We unveil a totally new (and totally cool) technology concept car
|Times Square. We were there.|
Even if you weren’t at CES, you could still see the car in action. Brian Cooley of CNET, Michael Guillory of Texas Instruments, the folks at Elektrobit, and Discovery Canada’s Daily Planet were just some of the individuals and organizations who posted videos. You could also connect to the car through a nifty web app. Heck, you could even see the Bentley’s dash on the big screen in Times Square, thanks to the promotional efforts of Elektrobit, who also created the 3D navigation software for the concept car.
We ship the platform
We wanted to drive into CES with all cylinders firing, so we also released version 2.0 of the QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment. In fact, several customers in the U.S., Germany, Japan, and China had already started to use the platform, through participation in an early access program. Which brings me to the next milestone...
Delphi boards the platform
|The first of many.|
We have the good fortune to be featured in Fortune
Fast forward to April, when Fortune magazine took a look at how QNX Software Systems evolved from its roots in the early 1980s to become a major automotive player. Bad news: you need a subscription to read the article on the Fortune website. Good news: you can read the same article for free on CNN Money. ;-)
A music platform sets the tone for our platform
In April, 7digital, a digital music provider, announced that it will integrate its 23+ million track catalogue with the QNX CAR Platform. It didn't take long for several other partners to announce their platform support. These include Renesas (R-Car system-on-chip for high-performance infotainment), AutoNavi (mobile navigation technology for the Chinese market), Kotei (navigation engine for the Japanese market), and Digia (Qt application framework).
We stay focused on distraction
Back in early 2011, Scott Pennock of QNX was selected to chair an ITU-T focus group on driver distraction. The group’s objective was serious and its work was complex, but its ultimate goal was simple: to help reduce collisions. This year, the group wrapped up its work and published several reports — but really, this is only the beginning of QNX and ITU-T efforts in this area.
We help develop a new standard
Goodbye fragmentation; hello
We launch an auto safety program
|A two-handed approach to |
helping ADAS developers.
On the one hand, we have a 30-year history in safety-critical systems and proven competency in safety certifications. On the other hand, we have deep experience in automotive software design. So why not join both hands together and allow auto companies to leverage our full expertise when they are building digital instrument clusters, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and other in-car systems with safety requirements?
That’s the question we asked ourselves, and the answer was the new QNX Automotive Safety Program for ISO 26262. The program quickly drew support from several industry players, including Elektrobit, Freescale, NVIDIA, and Texas Instruments.
We jive up the Jeep
A tasty mix of HTML5 & Android
apps, served on a Qt interface,
with OpenGL ES on the side.
Did I mention? The platform runs Android apps in a separate application container, much like it handles HTML5 apps. This sandboxed approach keeps the app environment cleanly partitioned from the UI, protecting both the UI and the overall system from unpredictable web content. Good, that.
The commonwealth’s leader honors our leader
|I only ate one piece. Honest.|
Mind you, Dan wasn’t the only one to garner praise. Sheridan Ethier, the manager of the QNX CAR development team, was also honored — not by the queen, but by the Ottawa Business Journal for his technical achievements, business leadership, and community involvement.
Chevy MyLink drives home with first prize — twice
There's nothing better than going home with first prize. Except, perhaps, doing it twice. In January, the QNX-based Chevy MyLink system earned a Best of CES 2013 Award, in the car tech category. And in May, it pulled another coup: first place in the "Automotive, LBS, Navigation & Safe Driving" category of the 2013 CTIA Emerging Technology (E-Tech) Awards.
Panasonic, Garmin, and Foryou get with the platform
Garmin K2 platform: because
one great platform deserves
And if all that wasn’t cool enough…
Mercedes-Benz showcases the platform
|Did I mention I want one?|
Mind you, this isn’t the first time QNX and Mercedes-Benz have joined forces. In fact, the QNX auto team and Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America have collaborated since the early 2000s. Moreover, QNX has supplied the OS for a variety of Mercedes infotainment systems. The infotainment system and digital cluster in the Concept S-Class Coupé are the latest — and arguably coolest — products of this long collaboration.
We create noise to eliminate noise
|Taking a sound approach to|
creating a quieter ride.
And we flub our lines on occasion
Our HTML5 video series has given companies like Audi, OnStar, Gartner, TCS, and Pandora a public forum to discuss why HTML5 and other open standards are key to the future of the connected car. The videos are filled with erudite conversation, but every now and then, it becomes obvious that sounding smart in front of a camera is a little harder than it looks. So what did we do with the embarrassing bits? Create a blooper reel, of course.
Are these bloopers our greatest moments? Nope. Are they among the funniest? Oh yeah. :-)
Governments around the world, in particular those of the United States and the European Union, are calling for the standardization of ADAS features. Meanwhile, consumers are demonstrating a readiness to adopt these systems to make their driving experience safer. In fact, vehicle safety rating systems are becoming a vital ‘go to’ information resource for new car buyers. Take, for example, the European New Car Assessment Programme Advanced (Euro NCAP Advanced). This organization publishes safety ratings on cars that employ technologies with scientifically proven safety benefits for drivers. The emergence of these ratings encourages automakers to exceed minimum statutory requirements for new cars.
Sizing the ADAS market
ABI Research claims that the global ADAS market, estimated at US$16.6 billion at the end of 2012, will grow to more than US$260 billion by the end of 2020, representing a CAGR of 41%. Which means that cars will ship with more of the following types of safety-certified systems:
The 10 challenges
So what are the challenges that ADAS suppliers face when bringing systems to market? Here, in my opinion, are the top 10:
- Safety must be embedded in the culture of every organization in the supply chain. ADAS suppliers can't treat safety as an afterthought that is tacked on at the end of development; rather, they must embed it into their development practices, processes, and corporate culture. To comply with ISO 26262, an ADAS supplier must establish procedures associated with safety standards, such as design guidelines, coding standards and reviews, and impact analysis procedures. It must also implement processes to assure accountability and traceability for decisions. These processes provide appropriate checks and balances and allow for safety and quality issues to be addressed as early as possible in the development cycle.
- ADAS systems are a collaborative effort. Most ADAS systems must integrate intellectual properties from a number of technology partners; they are too complex to be developed in isolation by a single supplier. Also, in a safety-certified ADAS system, every component must be certified — from the underlying hardware (be it a multi-core processor, GPU, FPGA, or DSP) to the OS, middleware, algorithms, and application code. As for the application code, it must be certified to the appropriate automotive safety integrity level; the level for the ADAS applications listed above is typically ASIL D, the highest level of ISO 26262 certification.
- Systems may need to comply with multiple industry guidelines or specifications. Besides ISO 26262, ADAS systems may need to comply with additional criteria, as dictated by the tier one supplier or automaker. On the software side, these criteria may include AUTOSAR or MISRA. On the hardware side, they will include AEC-Q100 qualification, which involves reliability testing of auto-grade ICs at various temperature grades. ICs must function reliably over temperature ranges that span -40 degrees C to 150 degrees C, depending on the system.
- ADAS development costs are high. These systems are expensive to build. To achieve economies of scale, they must be targeted at mid- and low-end vehicle segments. Prices will then decline as volume grows and development costs are amortized, enabling more widespread adoption.
- The industry lacks interoperability specifications for radar, laser, and video data in the car network. For audio-video data alone, automakers use multiple data communication standards, including MOST (media-oriented system transport), Ethernet AVB, and LVDS. As such, systems must support a multitude of interfaces to ensure adoption across a broad spectrum of possible interfaces. Also, systems may need additional interfaces to support radar or lidar data.
- The industry lacks standards for embedded vision-processing algorithms. Ask 5 different developers to develop a lane departure warning system and you’ll get 5 different solutions. Each solution will likely start with a Matlab implementation that is ported to run on the selected hardware. If the developer is fortunate, the silicon will support image processing primitives (a library of functions designed for use with the hardware) to accelerate development. TI, for instance, has a set of image and video processing libraries (IMGLIB and VLIB) optimized for their silicon. These libraries serve as building blocks for embedded vision processing applications. For instance, IMGLIB has edge detection functions that could be used in a lane departure warning application.
- Data acquisition and data processing for vision-based systems is high-bandwidth and computationally intensive. Vision-based ADAS systems present their own set of technical challenges. Different systems require different image sensors operating at different resolutions, frame rates, and lighting conditions. A system that performs high-speed forward-facing driver assistance functions such as road sign detection, lane departure warning, and autonomous emergency breaking must support a higher frame rate and resolution than a rear-view camera that performs obstacle detection. (A rear-view camera typically operates at low speeds, and obstacles in the field of view are in close proximity to the vehicle.) Compared to the rear-view camera, an LDW, AEB, or RSD system must acquire and process more incoming data at a faster incoming frame rate, before signaling the driver of an unintentional lane drift or warning the driver that the vehicle is exceeding the posted speed limit.
- ADAS cannot add to driver distraction. There is an increase in the complexity of in-vehicle tasks and displays that can result in driver information overload. Systems are becoming more integrated and are presenting more data to the driver. Information overload could result in high cognitive workload, reducing situational awareness and countering the efficacy of ADAS. Systems must therefore be easy to use and should make use of the most appropriate modalities (visual, manual, tactile, sound, haptic, etc.) and be designed to encourage driver adoption. Development teams must establish a clear specification of the driver-vehicle interface early on in development to ensure user and system requirements are aligned.
- Environmental factors affect ADAS. ADAS systems must function under a variety of weather and lighting conditions. Ideally, vision-based systems should be smart enough to understand when they are operating in poor visibility scenarios such as heavy fog or snow, or when direct sunlight shines into the lens. If the system detects that the lens is occluded or that the lighting conditions are unfavorable, it can disable itself and warn the driver that it is non-operational. Another example is an ultrasonic parking sensor that becomes prone to false positives when encrusted with mud. Combining the results of different sensors or different sensor technologies (sensor fusion) can often provide a more effective solution than using a single technology in isolation.
- Testing and validating is an enormous undertaking. Arguably, testing and validation is the most challenging aspect of ADAS development, especially when it comes to vision systems. Prior to deploying a commercial vision system, an ADAS development team must amass hundreds if not thousands of hours of video clips in a regression test database, in an effort to test all scenarios. The ultimate goal is to achieve 100% accuracy and zero false positives under all possible conditions: traffic, weather, number of obstacles or pedestrians in the scene, etc. But how can the team be sure that the test database comprises all test cases? The reality is that they cannot — which is why suppliers spend years testing and validating systems, and performing extensive real-world field-trials in various geographies, prior to commercial deployment.