Car manufacturers are making greater use of ambient LED lighting as a differentiator to enhance the driving experience. OEMs are able to support their car brand via the color and styling of the interior lighting, while dealers can offer consumers the option of customizing the lighting settings.
In a recent technological breakthrough to support this trend, the Netherlands-based NXP Semiconductors introduced a compact integrated UJA1018 chip that supports cost-efficient and flexible LED ambient lighting applications in vehicles. “With the UJA1018 and its unique Node Position Detection technology based on LIN switch, NXP enables car OEMs to offer personalized ambient lighting solutions to end consumers. At the same time, it saves system costs and simplifies logistics for both OEMs and Tier1 suppliers,” says Toni Versluijs, general manager of In-Vehicle Networking, NXP Semiconductors.
NXP has also started testing a next-gen congestion management system in Singapore. Cars equipped with NXP’s 3.5G telematics solution ATOP (Automotive Telematics On-board unit Platform) are piloting a solution for wirelessly collecting real-time traffic data via 3.5G mobile broadband. NXP technology can wirelessly communicate with other cars and traffic signs to warn drivers of dangers ahead and advise on optimum speed.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Drue Freeman, Senior Vice President, Global Automotive Sales and Marketing at NXP Semiconductors, to tell our readers more about the Connected Key concept.
Freeman: The Connected Key is an important element in the NXP Connects the Car strategy to effectively enable remote car management. The launch of NXP’s KEyLink Lite was timed to take advantage of the growing popularity and availability of NFC (near field communication) in many smartphones. With KEyLink Lite, drivers are able to simply wave their car key over an NFC-compliant mobile device to access essential and useful car data. Here’s a few examples:
• Car Finder – The car key records the GPS coordinates of your car’s last parking position, which can be read by an NFC-compliant mobile phone
• Route Planner – Enter your destination while sitting comfortably in front of a PC at home and transfer the data into the car key via NFC. Once you are inside the car, your destination will be automatically uploaded to the in-car navigation system.
• Car Status and Service Data Management – Before stepping out from your home or office, you can find out how much fuel is in your car for your next journey – by simply waving your car key over your NFC-compliant mobile phone. And, your car service history is saved on your KEyLink Lite-powered ‘smart’ car key.
• Fleet Management – Report trip computer data and mileage to the counter personnel, by simply reading the data from the key.
• Car Self-Diagnosis – Transfer diagnostic data from your car to a PC via the car key, then upload it to a service website and run a diagnostic analysis in seconds.
• Car Personalization – Car manufacturers can pre-fit cars with upgraded services, which can later be unlocked in the field.
And this is just the beginning. There will be many more convenient applications to come in the future for connected car keys.
AI: NXP has just launched the world’s smallest car key chip – give us some details.
Freeman: Our new NCF2960 is indeed the world’s smallest combo solution for automotive keyless entry with immobilizer functions. The chip is 44% smaller than previous units, requiring only 4-mm x 4-mm of board space. This provides key fob manufacturers with maximum design freedom. The chip features maximum reliability through RF multi-channel capability for frequency hopping. And, NXP’s NCF2960 features stabilized output power in order to minimize the impact of varying battery voltage and temperatures.
AI: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing connected mobility?
Freeman: First, connected mobility requires a complex infrastructure. It cannot be achieved by one or even a few companies, but needs a whole ecosystem – along with technology partnerships, extensive field trials, and standardization. All of these requirements are currently being addressed and are underway in the industry, but solutions will not be found overnight. As cars become increasingly connected to infrastructure, the “cloud” and even to each other, new players start to enter the automotive ecosystem. IT, networking, wireless infrastructure, telecom providers, software, and back-office infrastructure companies are all becoming part of the ecosystem and bringing changes in the traditional supply chains. Another big challenge is security. Eventually, every newly built car will have full internet access. This means that cars will become increasingly vulnerable to attacks and manipulation attempts. Secure identification of car drivers is a must for payment applications, such as in tolling or parking systems, or with EV charging stations or car sharing. Other functions that need to be protected against illegal access include remote software updates, personal data, and GPS information.
AI: What have been some of the developments with the Ethernet consortium co-founded by NXP – the “OPEN Alliance”’?
Freeman: NXP co-founded OPEN Alliance in order to roll out the BroadR-Reach automotive Ethernet technology and establish it as a de-facto standard. BroadR-Reach enables 100 Mbps Ethernet over one single unshielded twisted pair cable, thereby meeting both cost and EMC criteria of carmakers. OPEN Alliance has grown within nine months from a handful of promoters to an international alliance with over 70 members, including car makers from around the world. The OPEN Alliance has Technical Committees that are addressing specification, cables, connectors, common mode chokes, and many other system requirements. An IEEE working group for a reduced-pair Gigabit PHY has just been initiated.
AI: What makes your new chip for ambient lighting unique?
Freeman: It boils down to a very simple answer: we make the lives of LED ambient lighting module makers a lot easier. Up to now, lighting modules have had to be programmed during the assembly process. Not only does this irrevocably “fix” the modules’ colors, it also means complex and costly logistics for manufacturers. Our new chip UJA1018 for LIN networks uses a LIN switch which enables LED modules to be individually programmed AFTER being installed in the car AI: What about your SSL IC drivers for exterior lighting?
Freeman: Up to now, car manufacturers had to rely on complex, expensive driver ICs which had been primarily designed for the consumer industry. The ASL10xxNTK and ASL10xxPTK LED driver ICs from NXP integrate the required core functionality such as direct LED temperature feedback, LED fault detection, internal pulse-width modulation control for dimming, and short circuit protection – all on an automotive-qualified analog mixed-signal platform in a compact 14-pin package.
AI: How important is the Singapore traffic congestion management trial?
Freeman: Singapore’s world-class infrastructure is the ideal test bed for intelligent traffic solutions as it faces the mobility challenges of today’s global megacities and aims to reduce pollution and congestion. During the Singapore trial, cars equipped with ATOP – NXP’s telematics on-board unit platform – wirelessly collect real-time traffic data via 3.5G mobile broadband. Globally, we see enormous interest in such traffic management solutions – from simple road pricing to complex traffic management systems. Asia, with its enormous traffic challenges, is a key driver for making these concepts a reality. Next to traffic management, governments around the world are seeking to improve road safety. The technologies to achieve this – such as telematics and car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications – already exist today, and NXP together with other companies have been demonstrating this capability under real-world conditions in global field trials, such as simTD in Germany, ScoreF in France, or the “Safety Pilot Model Deployment” project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation. NXP closely works with Cohda Wireless on these solutions. Longer term, I am absolutely convinced that cars will be in constant communication with each other and with the roadside infrastructure via IEEE 802.11p wireless networks, thereby drastically reducing the number of road accidents. Safety applications enabled by car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications include forward collision warning, emergency brake light warning, blind spot or lane-change warning, do not pass warning, control loss warning, and many more.
I am personally very excited that NXP is participating in these trials because they will ultimately contribute to saving lives and reducing traffic congestion and energy consumption. This is what NXP Connects the Car is all about. What can be more important than that?