If you own a vehicle, chances are it is powered by a Freescale microchip. Freescale Semiconductor is one of the largest manufacturers of embedded hardware in the world. Almost every aspect of a vehicle is powered by a Freescale unit, including engine controllers, body electronics, driver information systems, critical safety systems and much more. As an EcoCAR 2 platinum-level sponsor, Freescale is supporting the development of a center control stack for all competition teams. Freescale is also donating a touch screen display and i.MX53 computer.
These center control stacks will operate as driver information systems and allow the driver to review the performance of their vehicle. Freescale is also collaborating with General Motors to provide a software interface that allows the control stack to access vehicle systems, such as temperature and ventilation controls. Ultimately this donation gives students a ‘sandbox’ to design the next generation of user-interface for vehicles. These interfaces will be easy to use and minimize distraction for the driver.
The University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) has taken the system one step further by using a QNX real-time operating system on the i.MX53 computer. QNX was started by two Waterloo graduates in the 1980s and has grown significantly. QNX is used to power just about everything, from nuclear power plants to medical equipment. UWAFT will use the center stack to provide critical information about the powertrain during development of the vehicle in year two. During the third year refinement of the vehicle, the display will take on different role. It will provide fuel consumption, charging information and trip details. Hopefully this information will encourage the driver to use a ‘green-foot’ rather than a lead-foot.
Freescale also co-hosted the Winter Workshop in Austin, Texas at their headquarters in February, offering students the opportunity to learn about their Freescale systems, alongside engineers in a hands-on-setting.