Tuesday, July 29, 2014

QNX-powered 2015 Audi TT named best-connected car

Is it innovative, beautiful, versatile, or just plain cool? I haven’t quite decided, so I’m thinking it’s all of the above. The QNX-based virtual cockpit in the 2015 Audi TT is a ravishing piece of automotive technology, and it brings driver convenience to a new level by integrating everything from speed and navigation to music and handsfree calling — all in a single, user-configurable display.

It seems I’m not the only one who's impressed. Because last week, 42,500 readers of “auto motor und sport” and “CHIP” chose the Audi TT as the industry's best-connected car. In fact, Audi took top honors in several categories, including navigation, telephone integration, sound system, entertainment/multimedia, and connected car.

To get an idea of what all the fuss is about, check out our video of the Audi TT’s virtual cockpit in action. We filmed this at CES earlier this year:

For more information on the award and the Audi TT, read Audi's press release.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Better safe than sorry — don’t miss our webinar on automotive systems

Lynn Gayowski
Lynn Gayowski
I’m from Winnipeg where there is an extremely high population of terrible drivers, so I like to think I have a special understanding of what automotive safety is all about. (I’m sorry Winnipeg, I do still love you. Anyone who changes lanes without signalling should feel the finger of shame pointing at them right now.) But when we’re talking about automotive functional safety, I think there’s still a lot of learning left to do.

Enter my esteemed colleague Yi Zheng. Yi will be presenting a webinar on Designing Automotive Systems with the ISO 26262 Standard. Highlights will include:

  • Lessons learned from safety standards in other industries
  • The key concepts of ISO 26262
  • What ISO 26262 requirements mean for the design of your system 

If you’re looking to brush up on your automotive safety knowledge I invite you to join. Here are the details:
Designing Automotive Systems with the ISO 26262 Standard  Monday, July 28, 2014
9 a.m. PT / Noon ET / 4 p.m.  UTC
Registration & more info here.

Attend from the comfort of your home or office – no parallel parking required!

Monday, July 21, 2014

The lost concept car photos

Have you ever rummaged through old boxes in your basement and discovered family photos you had totally forgotten about — or never knew existed? I experienced a moment like that a couple of weeks ago. Except, in this case, no basement was involved. And the box wasn't a box, but a shared drive. And the photos weren't of my family, but of cars. QNX technology concept cars, to be exact.

At least once a year, the QNX concept team retrofits a new vehicle to demonstrate how our technology can help auto companies push the envelope in connectivity, infotainment, and acoustics. And, in every case, we take pictures — sometimes, lots of them. Inevitably, we end up choosing a few images for publicity purposes and filing the others. But as I discovered, the images we don't use are often just as good as the ones we do use. We just don't need all of them!

In any case, stumbling across these photos was great fun. I thought you might enjoy them, too, so here goes...

The Porsche
First up is the QNX technology concept car based on a Porsche 911, which made its debut at 2012 CES. We had originally planned to drive the car back to Ottawa once CES was over — but that was before we spoke to our friends at Texas Instruments, who provided the silicon for the car's instrument cluster and infotainment system. They liked the car so much, they asked if we could bring it to their HQ in Dallas, where the following two photos were taken. All I can say is, Dallas is home to at least one awesome cool photographer. Because rather than curse the crazy lighting, the photographer used it to create some playful compositions:

If you look below, you'll see another shot of the Porsche, taken just before we shipped it off to CES. The image really doesn't belong in this collection, as it appeared once on a partner website. But it's rare nonetheless, so I decided to include it. And besides, it's cool. Literally.

Did you know? The original Porsche 911, which debuted in the early 60s, was dubbed the 901. Problem was, Peugeot had exclusive rights in France to three-digit car names with a 0 in the middle. And so, the 901 became the 911.

The Bentley
Next up is the QNX technology concept car based on a Bentley Continental GT. In this image, the driver is interacting with the center stack's main control knob, which was mounted directly on a 17" touchscreen. See the row of icons just above the knob? These represented HVAC, music, navigation, hands-free calling and other system functions. The  system would automatically display these icons as your hand approached the display; you would then turn the knob to choose the function you wanted. (This image was taken by a BlackBerry employee, whose name I have most ungraciously forgotten.)

As with our all concept vehicles, the intent was to showcase the technology that we had built into the car's dashboard and center stack. Which probably explains why the following image of the car's exterior was never published. Pity, as it's quite lovely — a classic case of flare adding flair.

Did you know? Those wheels aren't just for show. The Bentley comes equipped with a 616 hp W12 engine (yup, three banks of cylinders) that can do 0-60 mph in a little over 4 seconds — it took me way longer than that to type this sentence.

The Jeep
Next up is the Jeep Wrangler, which serves as the QNX reference vehicle. The Jeep plays a different role than the other vehicles highlighted here: instead of demonstrating how QNX technology can help automotive companies innovate, it shows what the QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment can do right out of the box. In this image, you can see the vehicle's main navigation menu:

Did you know? The original infotainment system in the reference vehicle could post Facebook updates that listed the title and artist of the song currently playing. The system performed this magic in response to simple voice commands.

The Vette
The QNX technology concept car based on a Chevrolet Corvette made its debut at SAE Convergence 2010. Among other things, it showed how digital instrument clusters can morph on the fly to provide drivers with context-sensitive information, such as turn-by-turn directions. You can see a slicker, more sophisticated approach to reconfigurable clusters in our most recent technology concept car based on a Mercedes CLA45.

Did you know? We used the Corvette to demonstrate how QNX technology enables automotive companies to create customizable, reskinnable user interfaces. Check out this post on the Corvette's 30-day UI challenge.

The Prius
The first QNX-powered technology concept car was a digitally modded Prius — aka the LTE Connected Car. The car was a joint project of several companies, including QNX and Alcatel-Lucent, who wanted to demonstrate how 4G/LTE networks could transform the driving experience with a host of new in-vehicle applications.

Here's the car with a very proud-looking Derek Kuhn, who spearheaded the LTE Connected Car project while serving as a VP at Alcatel-Lucent. Derek subequently joined QNX as VP of sales and marketing:

Did you know? When this car was created, telecom companies had yet to light up their first commercial LTE towers. Also, the car had more infotainment systems than any other QNX technology concept car: two in the front (one for the driver and one for the front-seat passenger) and two in the back.

Some things get lost, albeit temporarily. And some you just never see again. Fortunately, all these images belong to the first category. Any favorites?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Talking safety in Novi

Grant Courville
Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in a panel at Telematics Update's Advanced Automotive Safety Conference in Novi, Michigan. A key theme of the panel was — you guessed it — safety.

The two-day event brought together automakers, suppliers, government representatives, research groups, integrators, analysts, and educational institutions to discuss the latest standards and innovations in automotive safety and V2X. The show covered all aspects of vehicle connectivity, as well as the relationship of big data and cloud connectivity to automotive security.

The themes of reliability, security, and safety were front and center in my panel, “Automated Vehicles: The Stepping Stone to Autonomous Driving.” The panel was chaired by IHS Automotive and included experts from DENSO, Ricardo Inc., and the National Advanced Driving Simulator. Everyone on the panel agreed that interoperability and standardization are critical to accelerating innovation, and that ADAS systems are paving the path to autonomous driving.

All in all, the show was an informative event that helped identify the next steps in automotive safety — a topic near and dear to the QNX auto team.

Grant Courville is director of product management at QNX Software Systems.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Static analysis, functional safety, and why you should attend this webinar

Let's cut to the chase. Any webinar hosted by Chris Hobbs, a member of the safe systems team at QNX, is worth a listen. I honestly can't listen to the man for 5 minutes without learning something new. So if you're developing systems that must, or may need to, comply with the ISO 26262 functional safety standard, you owe it to yourself to attend the webinar that Chris will co-host this week:

Static Analysis' Role in Automotive Functional Safety
Thursday, July 17
10am PT, 1pm ET, 5pm UTC

As you may already know, ISO 26262 recommends static code analysis for ASILs B to D. And that's because static analysis can make a real contribution to functional safety — exactly the approach this webinar will explore. Topics will include:

• Functional safety and ISO 26262
• The balance between dynamic and static analysis
• How purpose-built tools can simply the qualification process

As an added bonus, Chris will be joined by co-host Steve Howard of Klocwork. Steve has over 15 years' experience in safety-critical and mission-critical software development, working with verification and validation tools.

Learn more about Chris, Steve, and the webinar here.

Recommended reading by Chris Hobbs
Testing as a road to confidence-from-use
The Dangers of Over-Engineering a Safe System
Protecting Software Components from Interference in an ISO 26262 System
Ten Truths about Building Safe Embedded Software Systems

Monday, July 14, 2014

The palindromic standard

The QNX OS for Automotive Safety was recently granted ISO 26262 certification. So why is that such a big deal? Allow me to explain.

When it comes to being hard to pronounce, ISO 26262 takes the cake among international safety standards. If you don’t believe me, just try to say “ISO 26262” ten times quickly, in any language.

You know what else is hard? Achieving compliance with ISO 26262. QNX Software Systems has just received its first ISO 26262 certificate from TUV Rheinland, so I can make that claim with a strong measure of confidence!

The certificate.
ISO 26262 is a new functional safety standard developed specifically for passenger vehicles. Published in 2011, it is based on the grand-daddy of functional safety standards, IEC 61508. Since its introduction, ISO 26262 has grabbed a lot of attention in the automotive industry. Why? Because rapid advancements in technology are presenting new safety challenges. The sophisticated hardware and software technologies now making their way into passenger vehicles may enable cool features, but they also stretch the concept of safety beyond mechanical parts. ISO 26262 is specifically developed to address the safety requirements of these electric and electronic components.

Due diligence
The ISO 26262 standard describes how safety functions must be addressed throughout the entire software lifecycle. This approach ensures that safety isn’t treated as an afterthought during final testing, but as a matter of due diligence in every stage of development. Apart from following functional safety processes, the software maker must continually ask questions such as these:

  • In what ways could my software fail?
  • If it does fail, how could it affect the safety of the overall system?
  • How can I mitigate the risk of failure?

These questions would sound familiar to any experienced safety engineer, but they might not be top of mind for many designers. Safety design imposes an extra dimension to a project that must be budgeted for, right from the start. In addition to the discipline and effort needed to develop any safety product, the ISO 26262 standard demands that you prove your product is safe.

Constructing the argument that the product complies with the standard, such as through building a safety case, is far from trivial. For instance, using methods like Goal Structuring Notation can help make a strong argument by giving some reason to the sea of documentation that serves as evidence for your safety claim. But it takes skill to wield the power of GSN to produce an effective, well-structured safety case.

In short, achieving ISO 26262 certification is a huge undertaking. But then, so is the importance of the ultimate goal: safer cars.

Again, for an inkling of how tough it is to get certified, just keep repeating the name of the standard without screwing up...

Recommended reading

QNX Unveils New OS for Automotive Safety
Architectures for ISO 26262 systems with multiple ASIL requirements (whitepaper)
Protecting Software Components from Interference in an ISO 26262 System (whitepaper)
Ten Truths about Building Safe Embedded Software Systems (whitepaper)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The drive to 2015 CES — first stop: Connected Car Conference

Derek Kuhn
The 2015 International CES show is just 6 months away. As a preview of what we’ll see in January, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) recently held its annual CEWeek, which included a special half-day event focused on the connected car and its influence on consumers’ lives.

Chaired by industry veteran Doug Newcomb, the Connected Car Conference (C3) explored some of the most pressing trends for connected automotive technology, including distracted driving, the Internet of Things, and the possibility of a self-driving future.

I took part in the panel discussion on safeguarding driver privacy. Moderated by Roger Lanctot of Strategy Analytics, the panel also included representatives from AVG Technologies, Covisint, HARMAN, and the Intelligent Car Coalition.

The panel covered both security and privacy — two different but intimately related topics — and sparked a lively exchange that ran the gamut from key fobs and VIN numbers to software practices and regulatory agencies. Check it out:

The countdown to 2015 CES has officially started. I’ll see you in Vegas — in 183 days!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Nothing semi about this HEMI

I rarely speak about any car in particular — I'm more interested in trends than trim levels — but allow me to make an exception. Because Chrysler has just announced a new Challenger equipped with a jaw-droppingly powerful HEMI V8.

How powerful, you say? Try 707 hp. Which is more than enough to make the Challenger SRT Hellcat the fastest, most powerful muscle car in history.

I haven't seen this car in person, but already, I'm in love with it. Which is weird, because I've been a tree-hugger since before the term existed. Can a person like myself who screams at colleagues for not recycling Coke cans honestly get excited over a car like this?

You bet. Because I prefer to live in a world where humans (and car makers) have latitude to indulge themselves. A world where the lion of fantasy can lie down with the lamb of environmentalism. A world where most vehicles are as green as grass, but where some can still roar to life with red-hot, unadulterated power.

So, tell me, does that sound schizoid? Or just well-balanced?