We’ve all done it: We sit inside a new car at the auto show or a dealer showroom, we grab the steering wheel while pushing ourselves deeper into the seat, and we look at the instrument cluster (particularly the speedometer) and then the infotainment system. Then we fiddle with the infotainment buttons, imagine a short drive, take a final look and step out, thinking “nice car.” Second only to actually driving the car, it's an experience car geeks love.
For CES 2015, Qualcomm Technologies and the QNX concept team wanted to give tech and gadget enthusiasts (not just car geeks) a similar rush. We started with something visually appealing: a Maserati Quattroporte GTS. Then, the QNX team threw its field-proven QNX OS and the QNX CAR™ Platform, and Qualcomm Technologies provided its Snapdragon™ Automotive Solutions platform. The result: the definitive statement in immersive in-vehicle experiences packed into an amazing technology concept car.
The vehicle features advanced technologies for infotainment, digital instrument clusters, and driver assistance. These systems feature high-resolution UIs with multi-touch support, 3D graphics for navigation, and LiDAR-based obstacle detection. The side mirrors have even been swapped for smart displays that eliminate typical vehicle blind spots and present relevant color-coded overlay information to promote safer driving.
Deep inside the car, working hand-in-hand with the QNX OS, is the Snapdragon Automotive Solutions platform. The platform manages all infotainment features; it also processes vital vehicle safety information, collected via a myriad of camera, ultrasonic, and LIDAR sensors, and delivers all relevant information to the driver in real time—that’s a lot of computing and processing power.
What’s so special about the Snapdragon Automotive Solutions platform? First, let me define what it is: it’s a highly integrated, thermal-efficient automotive-grade platform that incorporates an optimized combination of CPU, GPU, 4G LTE modem, GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. What’s special is that it is engineered to not only enhance the driver and passenger experiences with the infotainment features we know today, but it future-proofs the vehicle for next-generation features—some of which haven’t even been dreamt of yet. More important, it allows automakers and tier ones to accelerate development schedules and to focus on creating feature-rich, reliable infotainment and safety systems built with solutions such as the QNX CAR Platform.
Let’s take a closer look at the three areas I find particularly exciting and where I think the presence of the Snapdragon Automotive Solutions platform makes the greatest impact: the instrument cluster, the infotainment system, and the driver assistance system. Keep in mind that this vehicle is more than a showcase of what’s “out there” and possible—it’s a test bed we’ll use to gain relevant experience and knowledge that we can apply to future technologies in real cars.
The all-digital, reconfigurable instrument cluster
The cluster—the go-to information display for drivers—on the technology concept car can cycle through a number of views, providing the driver with relevant data on what’s going on, in, and around the car in real time. Rear-view park assist, current audio track, navigation data, forward-collision warnings, and vehicle data are all examples of information rendered in the cluster:
The infotainment system
You can’t help but notice the 12” portrait touchscreen next to the instrument cluster. The system is built using the QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment—an automotive-hardened software platform built on the QNX OS. The QNX CAR Platform runs on the Snapdragon Automotive Solutions platform hardware and implements a sophisticated UI design that supports voice recognition, touch (including tap, swipe, and pinch and zoom on the map), and synchronizes with the rear-seat control system, allowing rear-seat passengers to manage navigation, song selection, and temperature settings.
Here's a photo of the touchscreen in action. As you can see, it's displaying map info, an incoming call, and a "Now Playing" section. If you simply tap the map, which is powered by Elektrobit (EB) street director navigation and works with EB electronic horizon, it will automatically take over two-thirds of the screen:
Driver assistance system
The car's driver assistance system makes use of LIDAR and ultrasonic sensors to detect the presence of obstacles around the vehicle and renders warning information to the driver through the cluster or side-view displays, and also through an obstacle awareness system made up of dashboard LEDs. This system projects color-coded warnings onto the windshield to indicate the location and proximity of the object.
Other highlights include:
- Elektrobit electronic horizon - Topographical map data is used to provide curve-speed recommendations and warnings that are displayed in the cluster
- “Always On” rear-view display - The rear-view mirror has been converted into a display that renders a wide-angle perspective of the area behind the car
If you have the opportunity to see this car at CES, I highly recommend it—it really is an amazing technology concept vehicle that showcases the next-generation of automobile infotainment and safety. It will be located in the Qualcomm booth located in Central Plaza #21A Jan 6-9. If you cannot make it to CES, you can learn more here.