Car Electronics 2012

The Year of The EV article tells that We can dub 2011 the year of the EV (electric vehicles) and gives a timeline what happened 2011. The end result is that today there are enough Volts on the road (along with competitors like Nissan’s Leaf, various hybrids, and an electric Ford Focus) that it might be safe to suggest that the electric car is here to stay.

There has been many different car charging connectors in use on electronic vehicles. Electric Car Charging Standards Split article tells that many car manufacturers have agreed on a single EV charging port connector standard that has been in development by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) for several years. European car companies have been divided on standards for both AC and DC charging. The new single connector will support fast DC charging as well as be backward compatible with the J1772 AC charger that is standard on many plug-in electric vehicles today. I think that use of that standard will rise in 2012, and common charging standard will speed up the EV deployment.


Automotive electronics: What’s hot in 2012 article tells that in automotive electronics, 2012 looks to be a year of consolidation as technologies introduced previously become more widespread across model lines. In particular, voice recognition, with different features and interfaces, is seen as a way of distinguishing one brand from another, while electrified power trains in the form of hybrids and pure electric drives will be available in more models. In keep costs down driven auto industry the more mature the technology that goes into a car, the less risk of failure and costly warranty claims.

Cars and smartphones start to communicate using MirrorLink technology to allow new features. MirrorLink™ has been developed with the objective to provide a technology, offering seamless (extremely simple from the consumer perspective) connectivity between a smart phone and the in-vehicle infotainment system. It uses IP technologies in order to be independent of the physical transport mechanism and supports many car connectivity solutions (Bluetooth, WLAN, USB etc.). Whereas MirrorLink™ does allow any legacy application on the mobile device to show-up on the car display, it specifically enables easy development of mobile device based automotive applications.

Ethernet for Vehicles is gaining momentum in in the car. Ethernet for Vehicles Advances article tells that Ethernet technology in the car (a concept that was once unthinkable for the automotive industry) has been gaining momentum lately. Special interest group, known as the OPEN (One-Pair-Ether-Net) SIG, is aimed at driving broad-scale adoption of Ethernet in vehicles, largely to serve the expected boom of camera-based applications in cars. Many vehicles now have backup cameras, and many others are going to add cameras for such applications as lanekeeping, adaptive cruise control, and collision avoidance.

There is going to be an increasing number of Driver Information applications that involve displaying complex images and graphics. Xilinx Paves the Way for a New Generation of Automotive Driver Assistance and Infotainment Systems at CES 2012. World’s first Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) based Ethernet Audio/Video Bridging (EAVB) network implementation optimized for carrying high-speed data traffic within the automobile was shown at CES 2012. The IEEE 802.1 EAVB standard is already gaining the attention of a number of leading automotive manufacturers even though the specifications are still being finalized. OMG! Amazing home displays and automotive Ethernet AVB stuff from Xilinx article gives some more details what is expected in near future.


New electronics features are making challenges for developers. Automotive Electronics: Do We Really Need All This Stuff? article tells that everyone in the auto industry knows that the number of electronic control units (ECUs) in vehicles is nearing the point of unmanageability. Low-end vehicles now incorporate between 35 and 40 ECUs, while luxury cars may have 80 or more. “We’re right up against the limit right now. We need to find unique ways to integrate features and functions, and give our customers what they want without overloading our controllers.” The number of automotive features and functions keeps rising.

Would Cellphone Ban Secure Car Safety? article tells that the proliferation of in-car entertainment technologies (internet routers, smartphone links, MP3 connections, capacitive touch screens, etc.) are great for selling cars. Auto executives understand what consumers want: Many people don’t want a car with no extra features. Those new extra features have also sparked a serious debate about driver distraction dangers. “According to NHTSA [the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration], more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents.” “You’re dealing with human nature here. People want what they want. And sometimes they want more than they should have.”


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Ina Fried / Re/code:
    Verizon looks to bring connected car features to older vehicles with Hum, a $14.99/month service that offers roadside assistance, car diagnostics, more

    Verizon’s New Service Aims to Connect Older Cars, Keep Them Humming

    After a brief delay, Verizon is ready with a service designed to bring some connected car features to older vehicles.

    The $14.99-per-month service, dubbed Hum, offers roadside assistance, car diagnostics and help locating a mechanic. A companion app also lets users track vehicle records and also helps drivers remember where they parked and track the time on their parking meters.

    Powering the service are two pieces of hardware — a bluetooth speaker that mounts on a visor and a wireless modem that plugs into the diagnostic port included on most cars built since 1996.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Hackaday Prize Semifinalist: CANcrusher

    Trends in electronics projects come and go, and this year we have CANbus sniffers and development platforms. One of these CAN dev platforms, CANcrusher, is a semifinalist for the Hackaday Prize, and does a great job at poking and prodding a CANbus.

    Like a lot of very excellent projects, the CANcrusher is based on a Teensy 3.1 microcontroller. This, along with the MCP2515 CAN controller gives the CANcrusher three independent CAN channels supporting DW-CAN, SW-CAN, and LSFT. The software for the device can stream data directly to a computer over USB.

    CANcrusher Car Hack / Development Platform

    CANcrusher is an Open Source CANbus development system for hackers and developers interested in a low-cost alternative to the $$$$ systems.

    While USB is the main COM protocol for in-the-car analysis and hacking, I wanted a couple other channels to work with so I added a GSM module from IteadStudio (Model: IM141125004) for remote access and an RN42 Bluetooth radio which allows data rates up to 1Mbit and beyond.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Josh Gordon / Android Developers Blog:
    Google releases Desktop Head Unit emulator for Android Auto developers to test apps without being connected to a car

    Announcing the Android Auto Desktop Head Unit

    Today we’re releasing the Desktop Head Unit (DHU), a new testing tool for Android Auto developers. The DHU enables your workstation to act as an Android Auto head unit that emulates the in-car experience for testing purposes. Once you’ve installed the DHU, you can test your Android Auto apps by connecting your phone and workstation via USB. Your phone will behave as if it’s connected to a car. Your app is displayed on the workstation, the same as it’s displayed on a car.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Google robo-car suffers brain freeze after seeing hipster cyclist
    Devs try for frantic in-car fix as cyclist stands still

    Oxtox says the Googlemobile “apparently detected my presence … and stayed stationary for several seconds.” He then started his track stand, thinking the car would go through the intersection. “It finally began to proceed, but as it did, I rolled forward an inch while still standing. The car immediately stopped.”

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:
    How fixed-gear bikes can confuse Google’s self-driving cars

    Earlier this month in Austin, a cyclist and a Google self-driving car met at a four-way stop. This likely wasn’t the first time a Google self-driving vehicle has encountered a cyclist at a four-way stop. The company’s vehicles have driven more than 1.1 million miles in autonomous mode.

    But the encounter featured a twist — the cyclist was doing a track stand.

    But the track stand, which are generally done only by riders on fixed-gear bikes, quickly became a problem.

    The self-driving cars are notoriously careful, and tend to brake when anyone else is moving forward into the vehicle’s path. In a track stand, a rider on a fixed-gear bike may shift ever so slightly forward and back in an effort to maintain balance.

    While a human driver can easily see a rider doing a track stand isn’t going anywhere, Google’s self-driving car seems to be still be figuring that out.

    “The odd thing is,” wrote the cyclist, “I felt safer dealing with a self-driving car than a human-operated one.”

    Self-driving cars could be a boon for cycling. If self-driving vehicles almost never crash, roads will become immensely more safe and inviting to cyclists. But for now, mastering how to interact with cyclists is a challenge for self-driving vehicles.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:
    The Coming Terrorist Threat From Autonomous Vehicles

    Alex Rubalcava writes that autonomous vehicles are the greatest force multiplier to emerge in decades for criminals and terrorists and open the door for new types of crime not possible today. According to Rubalcava, the biggest barrier to carrying out terrorist plans until now has been the risk of getting caught or killed by law enforcement so that only depraved hatred, or religious fervor has been able to motivate someone to take on those risks as part of a plan to harm other people. “A future Timothy McVeigh will not need to drive a truck full of fertilizer to the place he intends to detonate it,” writes Rubalcava. “A burner email account, a prepaid debit card purchased with cash, and an account, tied to that burner email, with an AV car service will get him a long way to being able to place explosives near crowds, without ever being there himself.”

    According to Rubalcava the reaction to the first car bombing using an AV is going to be massive, and it’s going to be stupid. There will be calls for the government to issue a stop to all AV operations, much in the same way that the FAA made the unprecedented order to ground 4,000-plus planes across the nation after 9/11.

    A Roadmap for a World Without Drivers

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Julia Fioretti / Reuters:
    Sources: EU will launch a study of Uber in September to explore whether the company is a transport service or just a digital service
    To regulate or not to regulate? EU to launch study on Uber

    Meet the taxi industry’s last, best hope to survive Uber age
    New smartphone app Arro lets users hail and pay for yellow and green cab rides. Its backers laid out their strategy to compete with Uber.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Audi, BWM: soon transferred and Daimler’s ownership of Nokia’s HERE mapping wants to standardize the way vehicles emit positioning sensor data to cloud services. The matter was under discussion already held last week in Berlin forum.

    Berlin was accompanied by sixteen car manufacturers, automotive system suppliers and car manufacturers’ subcontractors. The event will discuss the content of data, data security, anonymity, and the accuracy and effectiveness of transmissions.

    Modern car collecting huge amounts of data from different sensor which can be used by other vehicles, and the authorities. If the data should be in a standardized format, a variety of cloud services should make it easier to take advantage of it. According to forecasts, the highway moves by the year 2020 already 30 million networked vehicle.

    t will be interesting to see how Apple and Google relate to Here initiative.


  9. Tomi Engdahl says:
    A Roadmap for a World Without Drivers

    Recently, a number of analysts have written thoughtful pieces about the future of mobility in a world of self-driving cars. Often, the projections assume that most cars will transition to electric motors over time, replacing the internal combustion engine.

    We should start with the points about the future of transportation that are nearly “consensus.” I use that word with quotes, because each analyst, consultancy, and forecaster offers opinions that coalesce around these points, though they differ on questions of degree, timeline of adoption, and other details. With that said, the consensus:

    Uber, or someone like them, will offer autonomous shared vehicle services. Widespread adoption of such services would reduce the amount of vehicles needed to accomplish the same amount of transportation by between 75% and 90%, depending on assumptions about utilization rates and consumer preferences for sharing rides.
    Without the need to pay drivers, Uber-like services with autonomous vehicles (AVs) will cost 50% to 90% less than they do today.
    The improved safety of AVs will reduce insurance premiums between 50% and 90%.
    Much of the urban real estate dedicated to parking will get re-purposed.
    There will be much less traffic, even if shared AVs do not take off, from the more efficient driving patterns of AVs.
    Vehicle miles traveled per person will not change much from today.
    The first vehicles on the market will arrive between 2017 and 2020, with rapid changes to the transportation infrastructure following in short order.

    Let’s call this the Consensus Model, and let’s stipulate that much of the Consensus Model is correct.

    Security Risks and Barriers to Adoption

    As summarized in Fortune, Gartner characterizes the barriers to adoption as technological and legal. The technological barriers to adoption are well known — more capable sensors, cheaper LIDAR, and more powerful software able to adapt to any conditions, etc. The legal barriers are familiar to anyone who has watched the growth of Uber over the last five years.

    But there are other barriers to adoption that will be even more difficult to overcome. Most importantly, when autonomous vehicles (AVs) become common, we will all have to get used to to the idea of thousands of cars driving around without passengers. Cars without passengers will present security and safety risks that have never been faced before.

    First, whether they are owned by an individual or by a fleet, AVs are the greatest force multiplier to emerge in decades for criminals and terrorists. Whether you’re a school shooter or a religious extremist, the biggest barrier to carrying out your plan is the risk of getting caught or killed by law enforcement. Only the most extreme mental illness, depraved hatred, or religious fervor can motivate someone to take on those risks as part of a plan to harm other people.

    Autonomous vehicles neutralize those risks, and they open the door for new types of crime not possible today.

    Now, a utilitarian would gladly accept an increase in terrorism and crime deaths, in exchange for the vastly greater reduction in accidental traffic deaths that would be prevented by AVs. But we are not utilitarians. We are Americans. And in America, a human life is somehow worth more when it is taken with an explosive than with a bullet.

    The scenario described above — using an AV to commit a violent crime — involves no hacking. Hacking is the second major barrier to adoption that will present unique problems to AVs. Any car with driver controls that are accessible via the Internet presents an amazing target for a hacker. The recent staged disabling of a Jeep Cherokee, which did not involve an autonomous vehicle, is a taste of things to come.

    The third barrier to adoption is scaling and adoption time. It’s hard enough to scale in software — just ask Google, where most Android users are still on versions between two and four years old. In the automotive world, hybrid cars are a good parallel for AVs

    Now, hybrid cars differ from AVs in material ways. The benefit of adopting hybrid technology — saving fuel— is a much less valuable benefit, with much narrower consumer appeal, than full AV capability.

    Traveling a mile in an AV is going to be deliriously cheap, and when we make something cheaper, we consume a lot more of it.

    This concept is not new.

    Driving somewhere takes time. During that time, it takes nearly your full attention (one hopes). Every mile you drive costs money, mostly in the form of fuel and vehicle depreciation.

    So — how cheap will AVs be compared to traditional vehicles? Brian Johnson, in his recent report for Barclays, provides framework for assessing the cost reductions. Johnson suggests that there will be four types of vehicles in the future: traditional cars that still require a human driver, “family autonomous vehicles” which are owned by consumers and used exclusively within a single household, “shared autonomous vehicles” (SAVs) owned and deployed by fleets in a model similar to Uber and Hertz, and “pooled shared autonomous vehicles” (PSAVs) that are like the preceding category, but which carry more than one passenger at time, like Uber Pool or Lyft Line.

    More importantly, the cost in attention associated with transportation will drop to nearly zero. The average American could shift some of the 5.5 hours of television watched per day into the car, and end up with vastly more personal time once freed from the need to pay attention to the road. This possibility has led many people to predict that AVs could enable further suburban sprawl as the costs of transportation fall.

    Autonomous vehicles will also allow new transportation use cases to emerge. Short haul flights and regional train travel will be hard pressed to compete against trips in FAVs, if the electricity needed to drive an autonomous Tesla from Los Angeles to San Francisco costs less than $10.00. Compared to a $75 fare on Southwest

    The Consensus Model holds that vehicle sales will fall, and the total automotive fleet will shrink, in response to the deployment of SAV & PSAV services. Barclays forecasts that the fleet will be 60% smaller and sales will be down 40%.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:
    The Year of the Car Hacks

    With the summer’s big security conferences over, now is a good time to take a look back on automotive security. With talks about attacks on Chrysler, GM and Tesla, and a whole new Car Hacking village at DEF CON, it’s becoming clear that autosec is a theme that isn’t going away.

    Up until this year, the main theme of autosec has been the in-vehicle network. This is the connection between the controllers that run your engine, pulse your anti-lock brakes, fire your airbags, and play your tunes. In most vehicles, they communicate over a protocol called Controller Area Network (CAN).

    A number of talks were given on in-vehicle network security, which revealed a common theme: access to the internal network gives control of the vehicle. We even had a series about it here on Hackaday.

    The response from the automotive industry was a collective “yeah, we already knew that.” These networks were never designed to be secure, but focused on providing reliable, real-time data transfer between controllers. With data transfer as the main design goal, it was inevitable there would be a few interesting exploits.

    Infotainment and Telematics

    Automotive companies are working hard on integrating new features in to distinguish their products and create new revenue streams. Want a concierge service? You can pay for GM’s OnStar. Need an in-car WiFi hotspot? Chrysler has that built into uConnect for $35 a month. Want to control every aspect of your vehicle from a touch screen? Maybe the Tesla Model S is for you.

    There are two main features that are leading to more connected vehicles: infotainment and telematics. Infotainment systems are the in-vehicle computers that let you play music, get vehicle information, navigate, and more. Telematics systems provide vehicle data to third parties for safety, diagnostics, and management.

    Regulators are helping speed up the process. Due to the eCall initiative, all new vehicles sold in Europe after 2018 must provide voice communication and a “minimum set of data” in the event of an accident. This means vehicle will be required by law to have a cellular connection, supporting voice and data.

    The Chrysler hack took advantage of a vulnerability that anyone familiar with network security would consider trivial: an open port running an insecure service. If you want to know the details of the hack, [Chris] and [Charlie] have published a detailed paper that’s definitely worth a read.

    The crux of the vulnerability relied on an assumption made by Chrysler. Their telematics unit had two processors, one connected to the in-vehicle network and one connected to the internet. The assumption was that the airgap between these devices prevented remote access to the in-vehicle network.

    Unfortunately, their airgap was made of copper. It was a SPI connection between the two processors, which allows for a variety of commands to be executed, including a firmware update. With rogue firmware running on the in-vehicle network, we’re back to the five-year old issue of in-vehicle networks being insecure.

    [Chris] and [Charlie] decided to focus on a Chrysler Jeep Cherokee, but let’s not place all the blame on Chrysler. The uConnect device running the vulnerable service was actually made by Harman. Harman is the largest manufacturer of automotive audio and infotainment systems. You’ll find their devices in vehicles from Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Buick, and others.

    This is how the automotive industry tends to work nowadays. An OEM, like Chrysler, integrates parts from a variety of “Tier One” suppliers. The Tier One suppliers source parts from “Tier Two” suppliers. It’s up to Chrysler to choose these parts, then stick them all together into a vehicle.

    When buying from a range of suppliers, security is a hard problem. As an engineer, you’re stuck with integrating parts that were chosen based on a range of criteria, and security isn’t at the forefront of purchasing decisions. OEMs do not always have the resources to evaluate the security of the products they are purchasing, and instead rely on the suppliers to build secure products.

    The other issue with suppliers is that fixes happen slowly. Chrysler could not patch this issue themselves, but instead needed to wait for the supplier to do it. After the patch was complete, they likely needed to perform testing and validation of the patch before releasing. This all takes time.

    Outside of the security industry, people have been hacking cars for years. Tuners charge money for “chipping” cars to improve performance, remove limiters, and alter settings.

    This type of work has good intentions, people pay for modifications to their vehicle. The security industry is more focused on nefarious motives.

    Vehicles are also becoming more automated. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) improve safety by giving computers control of the vehicles steering, throttle, and brakes. However, these systems also provide an additional threat to a compromised system.


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