Despite the emergence of the first car models sporting internet access and location based services, the industry is yet to take the big step towards fully connecting the car to the external world at attractive price points.
This is according to Kurt Sievers, senior vice-president and general manager of the automotive business at NXP Semiconductors, who says that although the technologies are ready for the connected mobility era, new concepts and business models will be needed – both for the wireless technologies themselves as well as for security.
One in three cars produced worldwide has an NXP sensor on board and every brand of car produced in the world that uses in-vehicle networking features NXP transceivers (LIN, CAN & FlexRay). NXP’s automotive business supplies solutions across a wide range of applications including entertainment, in-vehicle networking, car access and immobilizers, sensors and power.
A global semiconductor company with operations in more than 30 countries, NXP posted revenue of US$4.4 billion in 2010. The company designs and supplies high performance mixed signal and standard product solutions that leverage off its leading RF, analog, power management, interface, security and digital processing expertise. These innovations are used in a wide range of automotive, identification, wireless infrastructure, lighting, industrial, mobile, consumer and computing applications.
NXP continues to introduce new solutions for connecting the car – both for networking the electronic units inside the car and for wirelessly communicating with the outside world. Alongside its focus on connected mobility technologies, NXP drives energy efficiency in conventional and electrical vehicles.
Automotive Industries asked Sievers about his view of the connected world, and what technologies NXP offers to meet the demands of Connected Mobility.
Sievers: The connected car requires a lot of high-performance, mixed-signal semiconductor solutions – exactly the heart of NXP’s company portfolio. We are looking at car-to-x communication, location based services, remote car management, digital broadcast reception and personalization or personal configuration of cars. Our additional areas of expertise include security as well as mobile and wireless infrastructures. Going forward into a world of connected and, therefore, more open cars, security will become highly relevant. It’s this rich mix of expertise that allows NXP to truly shape the future of Connected Mobility.
AI: How important is the aspect of security in the connected car?
Sievers: Very important, indeed. Security is an important topic that the industry will have to deal with in more detail as more and more wireless technologies are integrated in vehicles, hence making the car potentially much more open and vulnerable. We have all the security technologies and competence available: just like we enable safe banking cards and electronic identity documents, we will make cars benefit from the advances in cryptography.
AI: How will security be managed in the connected car?
Sievers: NXP supplies crypto chips for about 85% of the world’s electronic passports – including the US, Singapore, and Germany – and we are also the global number one for contactless payment. We can introduce an equal level of encryption into vehicles. Our telematics unit, ATOP, for example, is combined with SmartMX – the same security chip that is used in credit cards. A secure element in telematics is needed to absolutely exclude manipulation in payment or unauthorized tracking or access to vehicle data. In this domain, one hundred percent privacy protection and security are a must. The same is true for smart car keys and for future remote car management solutions. Apart from telematics and car access, where security is integral part of our solution, we are also bringing security solutions into car-to-x communication.
AI: Does NXP offer a C2X solution?
Sievers: For C2X communication, NXP holds the pole position. We can draw from our expertise in the field of car infotainment, where NXP is the global number one silicon solution provider. In December 2010, we launched the world’s first software-programmable chip that uses one and the same hardware platform to serve the entire broad range of global digital terrestrial radio standards – from DAB, T-DMB, and DRM, all the way to HD. And it is this same multi-standard platform that is perfectly suited to run WLAN IEEE802.11p. This is the standard for C2X communication that the industry has agreed on. Several large-scale field tests with OEM partners in the automotive industry are currently being launched across the world and NXP is part of that. Another project finishes in May in Eindhoven: a major research project with TomTom and other companies which is called SPITS - Strategic Platform for Intelligent Systems. NXP is project leader in the SPITS group. In a public event, NXP will demonstrate car-to-x solutions during the Automotive Week in the Netherlands in May 2011 – by the way, the world’s first actual hardware platform for this standard!
AI: Tell us about your company’s contribution to the eCall project.
Sievers: NXP is a proponent of the wide-scale introduction of eCall in Europe – the emergency call system that automatically contacts the paramedics in the event of an accident. In November 2010, we demonstrated in a pan-European field test that our telematics solution, ATOP, which is no larger than a two Euro coin, meets all of the EU’s technical requirements and can be used in any country across Europe. BMW, IBM, Deutsche Telekom, Allianz Ortungssysteme, Dekra, and four European automobile associations actively supported our initiative.
AI: Apart from eCall – which other use cases do you see for telematics?
Sievers: NXP’s telematics system, ATOP, combines cellular technology, exact GPS positioning, and a secure element for data privacy and secure transactions. With this technology mix, telematics enables a variety of applications. Besides eCall, it covers stolen vehicle tracking, road pricing, fleet management, and a lot more. In electric vehicles, telematics will provide answers for the status of the battery, how far it can go and where the next free charging station is.
AI: How close are OEMs to launching vehicles that can communicate with smart-phones?
Sievers: NXP has co-invented NFC (Near Field Communication) with Sony and is market leader for this standard that allows contactless data exchange at distances of just a few centimeters. NFC is currently causing quite a stir in the cellphone world, and makes cashless payments using smartphones possible. In Google Android, NXP’s chip is already an integral part of the specification, many Smartphone manufacturers will follow. At Mobile World Congress, Continental and NXP demonstrated that NFC offers completely new ways of communicating with a car using a Smartphone. The Smartphone can read out diagnostic data, or even find the car in an unfamiliar city using GPS. It automatically loads the drivers’ favorite vehicle or entertainment settings and simplifies car sharing. In the use-case “car-sharing” you acquire via your smart-phone the right to open, start and drive a specific car at a specific point of time, and you receive this “electronic voucher” over the air on your phone which will let you open, start and drive the car. Well, countless completely new services are suddenly imaginable.