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To infotainment... and beyond! First look at new QNX technology concept car

Monday, January 5, 2015

The new car delivers everything you’d expect in a concept vehicle from QNX. But the real buzz can be summarized in a four-letter word: ADAS

The technology in today's cars is light-years ahead of the technology in cars 10 or 20 years ago. The humans driving those cars, however, have changed little in the intervening years. They still need to focus on a host of mundane driving tasks, from checking blind spots and monitoring road signs to staying within the lane and squeezing into parking spaces. In fact, with all the technology now in the car, including a variety of brought-in devices, some drivers suffer from information overload and perform worse, instead of better, at these crucial tasks.

Advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, can go a long way to offset this problem. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes — from drowsiness monitoring to autonomous emergency braking — but most share a common goal: to help the driver avoid accidents.

Which brings us to the new QNX technology concept car. As you’d expect, it includes all the advanced infotainment features, including smartphone connectivity and rich app support, offered by the QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment. But it also integrates an array of additional technologies — including cameras, LiDAR, ultrasonic sensors, and specialized navigation software — to deliver ADAS capabilities that simplify driving tasks, warn of possible collisions, and enhance overall driver awareness.

Mind you, the ADAS features shouldn’t come as any more of a surprise than the infotainment features. After all, QNX Software Systems also offers the QNX OS for Automotive Safety, a solution based on decades of experience in safety-critical systems and certified to ISO 26262, Automotive Safety Integrity Level D — the highest level achievable.

Okay, enough blather. Time to check out the car!

The “I want that” car
If the trident hasn’t already tipped you off, the new technology concept car is based on a Maserati QuattroPorte GTS. I won’t say much about the car itself, except I want one. Did I say want? Sorry, I meant lust. Because omigosh:



The differentiated dash
Before we run through the car’s many features, let’s stop for a minute and savor the elegant design of its QNX-powered digital instrument cluster and infotainment system. To be honest, I have an ulterior motive for sharing this image: if you compare the systems shown here to those of previous QNX technology concept cars (here, here, and here), you’ll see that they each project a distinct look-and-feel. Automakers need to differentiate themselves, and, as a group, these cars illustrate how the flexibility of the QNX platform enables unique, branded user experiences:



The multi-talented digital instrument cluster
Okay, let’s get behind the wheel and test out the digital cluster. Designed to heighten driver awareness, the cluster can show the current speed limit, display an alert if you exceed the limit, and even recommend an appropriate speed for upcoming curves. Better yet, it can display turn-by-turn directions provided by the car’s infotainment system.

Normally, the cluster displays the speed limit in a white circle. But in this image, the cluster displays it in red, along with a red bar to show how much you are over the limit — a gentle reminder to ease off the gas:



Using LiDAR input, the cluster can also warn of obstacles on the road ahead:



And if that’s not enough, the cluster provides intelligent parking assist to help you back into tight spaces. Here, for example, is an impromptu image we took in the QNX garage. The blue-and-yellow guidelines represent the car’s reverse trajectory, and the warning on right says that you are about to run over an esteemed member of the QNX concept team!



The rear- and side-view mirrors that aren’t really mirrors
By their very nature, car mirrors have blind spots. To address this problem, the QNX concept team has transformed the car’s rear- and side-view mirrors into video displays that offer a complete view of the scene behind and to the sides of the vehicle. As you can see in this image, the side-view displays can also display a red overlay to warn of cars, bikes, people, or anything else approaching the car’s blind zones:



The ADAS display for enhancing obstacle awareness
I don’t have pictures yet, but the car also includes an innovative LED-based display lets you gauge the direction and proximity of objects to the front, rear, and sides of the vehicle — without having to take your eyes off the road. Stretching the width of the dash, the display integrates input from the car’s ultrasonic and LiDAR sensors to provide a centralized view of ADAS warnings.

The easy-to-use infotainment system
To demonstrate the capabilities of the QNX CAR™ Platform for Infotainment, we’ve outfitted the car with a feature-rich, yet intuitive, multimedia head unit. For instance, see the radio tuner in the following image? That’s no ordinary tuner. To change channels, you can just swipe across the display; if your swipe isn’t perfectly accurate, the radio will automatically zero in on the nearest station or preset.

Better yet, the radio offers “iHeart drive anywhere radio.” If you drive out of range of your favorite AM/FM radio station, the system will detect the problem and automatically switch to the corresponding digital iHeartRadio station. How cool is that?



Other infotainment features include:
  • Natural voice recognition — For instance, if you say “It’s way too cold in here,” the HVAC system will respond by raising the heat.
  • Integration with a wide variety of popular smartphones.
  • Support for multiple concurrent app environments, along with a variety of Android and HTML5 apps, as well as an HMI built with the Qt framework.
  • A backseat display that lets passengers control HVAC functions, navigation, song selection, and other infotainment features.

The oh-so-awesome partners
The car is a testament not only to QNX technology, but to the ecosystem of technology partners that provide complementary solutions for QNX customers. Peek under the hood, and you'll find the latest tech from Elektrobit, iHeart, Nuance, Pandora, Parkopedia, Phantom Intelligence, Qualcomm, RealVNC, Rightware, and TE Connectivity.

The other stuff
Do not, for one minute, think that the Maserati is the only attraction in the QNX booth. Far from it. We will also showcase a significantly revamped QNX reference vehicle, outfitted with lane departure warnings, traffic sign recognition, and other ADAS features, as well as the latest version of the QNX CAR Platform — more in an upcoming post.

Visitors to the booth will also have the opportunity to experience:
  • a 3D navigation solution from Aisin AW
  • a digital instrument cluster designed by HI Corporation
  • two QNX CAR Platform demo systems, one powered by a dual-core Intel Atom E3827 processor, the other by an NVIDIA Tegra Visual Computing Module
  • the latest incarnation of the Oscar-winning Flying Cam SARAH aerial camera system


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