EW day 2 blog: All about automotive

(This is a wrap up of my thoughts from day 2 of Embedded World 2017. For day 1 highlights, check out EW17 day 1 blog: IoT security and Lego cities)

As embedded devices become more prevalent and assume more responsibility in our daily lives, there is a need for functional safety to make sure that we are not put in danger by any faults that may occur. It’s a hard requirement for market segments such as automotive, robotics (more on that later), industrial and even medical devices that require varying levels of fault coverage, depending on the application.

Kicking off the day, ARM’s director for functional safety Neil Stroud gave a presentation on that topic, introducing some use cases for the various computing envelopes.


Functional safety controls and mitigates the risk of faults in a system

 Neil introduced the concept of a safety island, which is an advancement on the current solution of lockstep. This is where multiple processing clusters perform the same computing in parallel, and send it to a safe processor to check for discrepancies. The safety island integrates a safe, real-time processor such as ARM Cortex-R52, within the processing cluster to enable higher levels of safety for the system as a whole through increased fault detection and control.

Check out Neil’s full presentation on Slideshare, or for a detailed introduction to this topic you can read Functional safety 101.

Back in September the ARM Cortex-R52 was launched to address growing functional safety needs in automotive, industrial and medical segments. A key new feature was the ability to perform real-time virtualization, and in January OpenSynergy announced the development of the industry’s first hypervisor for Cortex-R52. A demonstration of this is on the ARM booth this week, with the hypervisor running on a Fast Model of the Cortex-R52, enabling applications such as HVAC and lighting on separate virtual machines. 

Built on a Fast Model of Cortex-R52, the OpenSynergy hypervisor shows how a fault in one application has no effect on the other application

Staying on the automotive theme, ARM partner NXP was making a big splash as it announced its S32K family of chips is now available for general distribution. Designed for use in body components for ultra-low-power applications such as lighting, door locking and pressure sensors, the chips are based on the ARM Cortex-M4 and Cortex-M0+ processors. The NXP booth had evaluation boards of the S32K for attendees to check out and begin development on immediately, as well as a special guest!

A certain tame racing driver was a big fan of NXP's announcement

Cypress also announced Traveo II, a new family of 32-bit SoCs based on the Cortex-M7 and Cortex-M4 for auto body components in areas such as central body control modules, door, window and sunroof control units, seat control units, smartphone terminals and wireless power charging units. Continental confirmed their selection of the Traveo II family for its next-generation body electronics platform, more info on that here.

The launches mark a shift to 32-bit processing in vehicle MCUs, reflecting a growing trend for more security, safety and features in even the smallest automotive computing. You can find out more in Brian Fuller’s blog Automotive electronics design is about to take a giant leap forward.

Coming back to robotics, people who passed by the ARM booth at Hall 3 Stand 342 will have noticed the giant robotic arm that was taking on all comers in a game of air hockey! Showcasing Tensorflow and ROS running on ARM-based hardware, it was a working example of how embedded computing is becoming more intelligent.

A robotic arm was built to showcase robotics and computer vision running on ARM technology 

Learn more about how the ARM demo team put together this demo in the blog: How to build a robot.

Embedded computing is growing apace, with the growth in automotive-specific technology pushing a lot of the investment. Tomorrow I’ll share some of the other areas where the embedded community is growing into. With that said, this being a technology show in Germany, I’ll sign off with some photos of the cars that made my heart skip a beat.