figure1.jpgCan your car watch out for itself in heavy traffic? The average new vehicle carries plenty of computing power, with as many as 100 processors connected by as much as a mile of wire—it’s a mobile computer network with an array of sensors controlling practically every aspect of the engine and drive train. It was only natural to start adding sensors reporting on the external environment to warn of pending danger such as merging trucks, cars approaching on your blind side, or the vehicle in front of you braking suddenly.

Automotive radar is becoming increasingly common in high-end vehicles. Such systems trigger in-vehicle warnings of imminent collisions or inadvertent lane changes and, if you don’t react quickly enough, will initiate corrective steering and/or braking. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that such sensor-based crash avoidance technologies could potentially prevent as many as 80 percent of automobile accidents involving non-impaired drivers.

Talk to Me

However, just as a PC becomes more useful when it connects to a network, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications can greatly improve both safety and mobility. The two approaches are closely tied together.

Connected vehicle systems are based on Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC), a two-way, short-range (approximately 200 to 300 meters) wireless communication protocol that permits secure, fast data transmission critical in communications-based, active safety applications. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has allocated 75 MHz of spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band for use by Intelligent Transportations Systems (ITS) vehicle safety and mobility applications. DSRC was developed with the goal of enabling technologies that support safety applications and communication between vehicle-based devices and infrastructure to reduce collisions.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is currently conducting a Safety Pilot program involving 3,000 cars with DSRC beacons that emit a basic safety message 10 times per second. This information is collected and shared with other vehicles to indicate when a potential traffic hazard exists. If a vehicle was involved in an accident it would automatically alert other vehicles as well as first responders of the incident. The accident would immediately show up on the GPS displays of properly equipped vehicles and advise their drivers of alternative routes.

As traffic built up behind the accident site, freeway signs could be activated to warn of the delay and stop lights on alternative routes retimed to handle the increased traffic. According to the Texas Transportation Institute American drivers spent 4.8 billion hours stuck in traffic in 2010, the equivalent of one full work week for everyone on the road that year—in the process wasting 3.9 billion gallons of gas.

By communicating with roadside infrastructure drivers could be alerted in advance as they approached stop lights, school zones, workers or vehicles on the side of the road, or dangerous curves. If you failed to notice a yellow light your car might automatically start decelerating at just the right rate to stop you at the intersection. In another scenario if you arrive at a stop light late at night and there are no other cars approaching, your car could signal the light to change to let you pass instead of sitting there by yourself for two minutes.

Building the Backbone


The development and deployment of a fully connected transportation system requires a robust, underlying technological platform. The platform needs to be a combination of well-defined technologies, interfaces, and processes that, combined, ensure safe, stable, interoperable, reliable system operations that minimize risk and maximize opportunities. This is pretty much a definition of the sort of flexible, compatible intelligent systems that computing platforms built around 4th generation Intel® Core™ processors (Haswell architecture) can provide.


Kontron’s CP6005(X)-SA CompactPCI Processor Boards provide an ideal backbone for powerful network intensive applications providing virtualization (VT-X, VT-D) and highest graphics performance by up to 20 graphics cores supporting OpenCL 1.2 and OpenGL 3.2 and three independent interfaces. The boards’ I/O capabilities include 10 Gigabit Ethernet, PCIe 3.0 (x4), PMC/XMC, USB, VGA, DVI, RAID, and more.


Anticipating long embedded lifecycle support, SBS Science and Technology’s COM Express™ Type 6 Module-COMe8400 provides high performance, flexibility, and X86 software compatibility. The boards include an Intel® QM87 chipset; Intel® HD Graphics with DirectX 11.1, OpenCL1.2 and OpenGL 3.2 support; 1 PCI Express x16, 7 PCI Express x1 lanes; 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet; 2 SATA 6GB/s ports, and 2 SATA 3GB/s ports.


Venture Corporation’s eIPC380 Embedded Industrial PC is a compact computer that incorporates connectivity, manageability, and security in a ruggedized and low profile enclosure that protects the system in tough operational environments. The elPC380 I/O includes USB 3.0, HDMI, VGA, Display Port, PCIe, and SATA HDD. Wireless connectivity for 802.11 A/B/G is available via a Mini PCIe slot.


The Evoc NPC-8223 is a 2U standard rack-mount mainstream platform targeting network security applications. The NPC-8223 supports 6x GbE, 1x PCIe (x8), 4x SATA, 2x USB 2.0, and 4x 1066/1333 MHz UDIMMs (up to 32 GB). With EVOC ENM network module expansion, the NPC-82234 can support up to 14 Gigabit LAN ports.


Are We There Yet?

No, the infrastructure isn’t ready yet, but this is the direction that things are going. Intel’s wide ecosystem of partners can readily provide the architectural building blocks. Given sufficient funding and some time, driving from point A to point B will become a much safer and more efficient experience.

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Kontron is a Premier member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance. SBS, Venture, and Evoc are Associate members of the Alliance.

John Donovan

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

Editor/Publisher, Low-Power Design
Follow me on twitter: @jdonovan43