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CES: BlackBerry QNX launches new car OS

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At CES in Las Vegas this week, BlackBerry announced its QNX Software Development Platform 7.0. This 64-bit OS is said to raise the bar for security and performance in cars.

At CES 2017 in Las Vegas this week, BlackBerry announced its most advanced and secure embedded operating system (OS) for the automotive industry. QNX Software Development Platform 7.0 (QNX SDP 7.0) is a 64-bit OS that “raises the bar for security and performance in cars”. At CES 2017, the technological capabilities of QNX SDP 7.0 is being demonstrated in BlackBerry QNX’s 2016 Jaguar XJ and 2017 Lincoln MKZ concept cars.

“With the push toward connected and autonomous vehicles, the electronic architecture of cars is evolving – from a multitude of smaller processors each executing a dedicated function, to a set of high performance domain controllers, powered by 64-bit processors and graphical processing units,” said John Wall, senior vice president and head of BlackBerry QNX.

“To develop these new systems, our automotive customers will need a safe and secure 64-bit OS that can run highly complex software, including neural networks and artificial intelligence algorithms. QNX SDP 7.0 is suited not only for cars, but also for almost any safety- or mission-critical application that requires 64-bit performance and advanced security. This includes surgical robots, industrial controllers and high-speed trains.”

BlackBerry provided the following information:

QNX SDP 7.0 provides high performance and enhanced kernel-level security through an array of features, including microkernel architecture, file encryption, adaptive time partitioning, a high availability framework, anomaly detection, and multi-level policy-based access control.

Featuring the next-generation QNX Neutrino Realtime OS and QNX Momentics Tool Suite, this reliable OS helps guard against system malfunctions, malware, and cyber attacks by implementing a multi-level, policy-driven security model that incorporates best-in-class security technology from BlackBerry. The OS also offers a safety pedigree proven by certification to ISO 26262 ASIL D (the highest level achievable) for automobiles and to IEC 61508 SIL 3 for industrial automation systems, and by compliance with IEC 62304 for life-critical Class III medical devices.

As automakers look to consolidate domain functions such as infotainment, telematics, and digital instrument clusters into a virtual cockpit controller, QNX SDP 7.0 provides a realtime OS that supports 64-bit for the ARMv8 and Intel x86-64 architectures, along with virtualization capabilities. QNX SDP 7.0 can help ensure that these automated systems perform all processes and actions reliably, within the pre-defined amount of time needed for successful and safe execution.

Must-See Concept Cars at CES

BlackBerry QNX is unveiling a Jaguar XJ concept car with a new digital cockpit design that combines the infotainment and instrument cluster functionality. It shows two operating systems running safely and securely on a single System-on-a-Chip (SoC) processor. BlackBerry QNX hypervisor software safely separates and isolates the infotainment system and graphics, meaning the infotainment system can safely re-start without affecting the instrument cluster. BlackBerry worked with Rightware Cluster UI to build the QNX Cluster graphics monitor that can detect failures in the safety system.

The Jaguar XJ concept car also features BlackBerry’s QNX Acoustics Management Platform (AMP) for clear high-definition in-car communication, active noise control, and engine sound enhancement.

BlackBerry QNX is also taking the wraps off of its autonomous Lincoln MKZ concept car, showing QNX SDP 7.0 capabilities in action on Renesas’ CES test track. BlackBerry QNX worked with Renesas, the University of Waterloo, and Polysync to develop the prototype vehicle that demonstrates Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities.

Using LiDAR, radar, forward-facing cameras, global positioning systems (GPS), and inertial measurement units (IMU), the car can detect obstacles on the road, anticipate dangerous driving situations, and present warnings to avoid collisions to keep drivers and passengers safe. The QNX Platform for ADAS processes data generated from the sensors in realtime, and also records and plays back the data off-line for feature development and testing.

Also on display at BlackBerry’s CES booth is a 2017 Aston Martin Vanquish model that is now shipping with BlackBerry QNX’s latest in-vehicle infotainment software technology. The new infotainment system is the control center, seamlessly integrating audio, hands-free communication and vehicle status technologies into the cabin. It also has an upgraded satellite navigation system with a quicker address input, advanced traffic information, and support for Apple CarPlay.

BlackBerry Radar

BlackBerry is also showcasing BlackBerry Radar, its secure end-to-end hardware and software asset tracking solution for the transportation and logistics industry. Radar provides more sensor readings, more often than any other solution on the market today. This allows customers to accurately monitor assets, manage yards, analyze utilization, measure efficiency, and reduce theft based on a near realtime view of the fleet.

Availability

QNX SDP 7.0 is the latest in a string of momentum updates BlackBerry has made in its software transformation, and comes less than a month after the company released a mobile-native, secure software platform for the Enterprise of Things, and two weeks after the unveiling of the BlackBerry QNX Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Centre. The beta release of QNX SDP 7.0 is available now for evaluation and product development. General availability is scheduled for Q1 2017.

Cars

Body-tracking tech moves to assembly line

Technology typically used by the world’s top sport stars to raise their game, or ensure their signature skills are accurately replicated in leading video games, is now being used on an auto assembly line.

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Employees at Ford’s Valencia Engine Assembly Plant, in Spain, are using a special suit equipped with advanced body tracking technology. The pilot system, created by Ford and the Instituto Biomecánica de Valencia, has involved 70 employees in 21 work areas. 

Player motion technology usually records how athletes sprint or turn, enabling sport coaches or game developers to unlock the potential of sport stars in the real world or on screen. Ford is using it to design less physically stressful workstations for enhanced manufacturing quality.

“It’s been proven on the sports field that with motion tracking technology, tiny adjustments to the way you move can have a huge benefit,” said Javier Gisbert, production area manager, Ford Valencia Engine Assembly Plant. “For our employees, changes made to work areas using similar technology can ultimately ensure that, even on a long day, they are able to work comfortably.”

Engineers took inspiration from a suit they saw at a trade fair that demonstrated how robots could replicate human movement and then applied it to their workplace, where production of the  new Ford Transit Connect and 2.0-litre EcoBoost Duratec engines began this month.

The skin-tight suit consists of 15 tiny movement tracking light sensors connected to a wireless detection unit. The system tracks how the person moves at work, highlighting head, neck, shoulder and limb movements. Movement is recorded by four specialised motion-tracking cameras – similar to those usually paired with computer game consoles – placed near the worker and captured as a 3D skeletal character animation of the user.

Specially trained ergonomists then use the data to help employees align their posture correctly. Measurements captured by the system, such as an employee’s height or arm length, are used to design workstations, so they better fit employees. 

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Electric cars begin to bridge the luxury gap

A new era has dawned as electric mobility bridges the gap between luxury and necessity, writes TREVOR HILL – head of Audi South Africa.

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Mobility is essential to today’s world. We travel to get to work, to go shopping, and to meet friends and family – in short, effective transport impacts on all aspects of our modern lives. Access to mobility is critical to economic growth and progress, bringing more opportunities and better productivity. At the same time however, growing environmental concerns and a looming shortage of fossil fuels have created tension between our ever-growing demand for mobility and the health of our planet.

Growing populations, increasing urbanization and economic and social development mean that there are more cars on our roads each day. The knock-on effects of this are greater levels of congestion and longer times spent commuting, which means more stress and higher levels of aggression on the road. Skyrocketing levels of air pollution – to which transportation is one of the leading contributors – has negative effects on both health and climate change, both of which are key issues in global policy agendas.

So, the writing has been on the wall for some time. The gold standard in automotive technological progress has thus been to achieve a radical reduction of engine emissions and the development of electric cars has been at the forefront of this charge. We have now entered the beginning of a new era, as more and more of these vehicles take to the roads. Electric cars are now at the cusp of the mass market, with a steady stream of new models set to reach the consumer in future. Last week, we launched the Audi e-tron, our first all-electric-drive SUV, at a world premiere in San Francisco – one huge leap forward in pursuit of our goal. Audi will also bring more than 20 electrified models to the market by 2025, from the compact class to the full-size category. Around a dozen models will be all-electric, while the remainder will be plug-in hybrids for emission-free driving on shorter journeys.

Powering this development is ongoing improvement in battery technology, with increasing energy density and lengthened driving ranges possible between charges. Consumers have noted that they feel confident using electric cars for day-to-day use once battery technology can sustain a driving range of 300 or more kilometres, which is now possible. The Audi e-tron has a range of 400 kilometers, making it ideal for long distance driving. Drivers who charge the e-tron overnight can set off in the morning in full confidence that they won’t need to stop at a charging station as they go about their day.

What this technological progress also means however, is that the levels of power and performance achieved by an electric car draw ever closer to those of traditional engines. For anyone who loves high strung, powerful engines and the rush of adrenaline that comes from flooring the throttle on an empty stretch of road, this is no small thing.  At Audi, we are lucky to be surrounded by some of the most exceptional engines ever produced, so few people understand the thrill of an extraordinary driving experience better than we do. So, the holy grail is to achieve this same performance with vastly improved economy.

The Audi e-tron’s electric drive has two asynchronous motors, one at the front, one at the rear, with a total output of 300 kW of power. This allows the Audi e-tron to accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in just 5.7 seconds.

The next step will be the development of electric cars suitable for those who regularly drive long distances, entailing further advances in battery technology, and the development of a network of charging stations across the country. The battery for the Audi e-tron is designed to last the entire life cycle of the vehicle. When charged at a high-power charging station at up to 150 kW, the Audi e-tron can be restored to 80% in less than half an hour. At 22 kW, the Audi e-tron can charge its battery to 100% in around four and a half hours.

For city dwellers, however, the age of electric mobility has well and truly arrived. Rapid advances in technology continue to drive progress; the rise of electric cars is only one of many developments set to transform transportation as we know it, heralding a cleaner, more efficient future.

 

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