How smart is your car?

By Brandon Lewis


Embedded Computing Design

March 05, 2020


How smart is your car?

What an ambiguous, loaded question that has become? These days, if someone asks you "How smart is your car?" it could mean almost anything.

What an ambiguous, loaded question that has become? These days, if someone asks you “How smart is your car?” it could mean almost anything. Is it a compact electric vehicle (recently discontinued in the U.S.)? Or, can your car drive itself? Does it speak to your equally-smart home? Or is it simply a shrewd investment?

Or, can your car determine who is driving based on how that person drives?

At CES 2020, the last question was answered for me by BlackBerry courtesy their CylancePERSONA technology.

CylancePERSONA is an AI-enabled endpoint analytics solution that performs continuous biometric analysis and user conduct monitoring. The technology was originally developed to help enterprises identify cyber criminals who had obtained valid user credentials and were using them to attack company networks. Only now, BlackBerry is deploying the tool to stop car thieves – or maybe just mischievous kids who took the family car when they weren’t supposed to.

As demonstrated in Video 1, a fictional juvenile named Trevor takes his father Cedric’s key fob and starts driving the family car. Trevor takes Cedric’s key fob because pre-defined settings limit him to a certain speed when his own key fob is detected.

A short time later, CylancePERSONA recognizes that it is in fact Trevor, and not Cedric, who is driving, and relays this information to a Vehicle Operations Center. From there, several manual or automated actions can be taken, such as notifying Cedric via text message, calling the police, and so on. The integrated solution can even remotely manage the vehicle to restrict horsepower, prevent the driver from restarting the car, take a picture, or kill the engine altogether.

Obviously the solution is more applicable to enterprise fleet management than your average family, but it was a fun example.

Video 1. BlackBerry has integrated CylancePERSONA in its “Vehicle Operations Center” offering to ensure that drivers of a vehicle are known and trusted.

CylancePERSONA is just one of several BlackBerry technologies that can be included in the Vehicle Operations Center solution. Others include the company’s QNX Hypervisor, the Jarvis binary code scanning tool, and of course the BlackBerry OTA Software Update Management Service.

How smart is your development?

CylancePERSONA is great for vehicle owners and fleet managers. But what about automotive engineers?

Elsewhere at CES, Siemens was showcasing its PAVE360 digital twin environment, which uses high-fidelity modeling to simulate how vehicles perform in various operating environments. Through a partnership with Arm, the closed-loop solution is capable of running entire software stacks to verify not only vehicle dynamics, but electronic control units (ECUs) and sensors as well.

PAVE360 leverages multiple Siemens tools, including Simcenter Amesim and Simcenter Prescan. Amesim is the 1D modeling environment that houses highly accurate representations of components such as ECUs down to the RTL level. Prescan is a physics-based simulation environment that enables the testing and validation of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) under almost limitless conditions.

During a demonstration, Siemens engineers stepped through two driving scenarios. In the first scenario, an anti-lock braking system (ABS) ECU correctly deploys the brakes when a vehicle encounters a water spill, but the action results in the car colliding with oncoming traffic. Based on this outcome, the engineers modified the ADAS stack running on the Amesim twin so that the brakes were not applied in the second scenario, thus avoiding an accident.

The precision and accuracy of these physics-based representations is impressive to say the least. A full video recap of the Siemens demonstration will be available on the site soon.

These were just two of many fascinating automotive technologies on display at CES 2020. And if they’re any indication, pretty soon no one will be asking how smart your car is.

They’ll all be very smart.

Brandon is responsible for guiding content strategy, editorial direction, and community engagement across the Embedded Computing Design ecosystem. A 10-year veteran of the electronics media industry, he enjoys covering topics ranging from development kits to cybersecurity and tech business models. Brandon received a BA in English Literature from Arizona State University, where he graduated cum laude. He can be reached at [email protected].

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