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On Electronics: August 2013

Infineon's flexibly FlexRay; NHTSA issues voluntary guidelines for in-dash electronic devices; V2V equipment for motorcycles; Wireless Bonded LED

Infineon Introduces Flexible FlexRay Transceiver

 Infineon’s new FlexRay transceiver manages data rates of 10Mbit/s for in-vehicle communication. 

Infineon Technologies’ (infineon.com) suite of LIN and CAN (local interconnected network and controller area network) is growing with the addition of its first FlexRay transceiver. 

With data rates of 10Mbit/s for in-vehicle communication, the TLE9221SX is the interface between the communication controller unit and bus wires. Compliant with Infineon’s current FlexRay specs, the TLE9221SX transceiver was designed for suspension and chassis control applications, as well as power steering, engine and transmission control units. 

“There is a noticeable trend towards extending the FlexRay bus from chassis control and body gateway applications to the powertrain domain, including engine and transmission control,” says Frank Schwertlein, Infineon vice president and general manager, Standard Power, Automotive Div.

Because it can be placed on a 20-pin FlexRay transceiver footprint, the 16-pin TLE9221SX is intended for integration within existing designs. Its bus pins are protected against short circuits, Infineon says. 

Don’t Touch That Dial (Seriously) 

The federal government can’t lock you out of your smartphone if you attempt to text while driving. But regulators are strongly suggesting automakers do their best to block drivers from in-vehicle systems that can similarly steal the attention behind the wheel. 

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently issued voluntary guidelines for in-dash electronic devices. The regulations suggest OEMs disable any digital functions that demand the driver take their eyes off the road to operate for more than two seconds at a time, or 12 seconds in total. That includes embedded infotainment platforms, navigation systems, video calling and the wide swath of app-infused activities. NHTSA touted a new study showing that visual/manual tasks such as scrolling and texting triples the risk of a crash. 

The guidelines also recommend disabling several operations unless the vehicle is stopped and in park, including receiving or sending texts, video phoning, and engaging social media. 

But while “NHTSA and automakers share the same goal” of keeping drivers’ eyes and hands from drifting to their smartphones, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) said the voluntary regulations don’t impact the free range of smart phones that make their way into just about every vehicle on the road. 

“Our concern is that limiting built-in systems without simultaneously addressing portable devices could result in drivers choosing not to connect their phones in order to access the functionality they want,” says an AAM statement. “That would be a troubling outcome, given the NHTSA finding . . . that visual-manual tasks associated with hand-held phones and other portable devices increase crash risk by three times.”

Motorcycles in the V2V Mix

Just about all the talk and (and most of the action) around vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications revolves around cars, light trucks and semis. Less attention is paid to those travelers without airbags, and in some U.S. states, without helmets: motorcyclists.

Motorcycles represent 5% of all highway deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 80% of motorcycle crashes end in injuries or fatalities compared to 20% for cars. 

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) is partnering with motorcycle makers Honda and BMW to figure out how cars, trucks, buses, and motorcycles interact using vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology from Cohda Wireless (cohdawireless.com).

The V2V-connected vehicle equipment provided for the motorcycles is based on the RoadLINK chipset, a collaboration between Cohda Wireless and NXP Semiconductors (nxp.com). The automotive-grade chipset consists of a software defined radio chip from NXP running connected vehicle firmware from Cohda. 

With nearly 3,000 vehicles, the Safety Pilot Model Deployment trial in Ann Arbor, Michigan, managed by UMTRI for the U.S. Department of Transportation, is the world’s largest connected vehicle trial. Cohda supplies the equipment for half of the fleet. 

“With V2V communications, the vehicles must be able to communicate with each other, even in an urban setting where buildings prevent the drivers at an intersection from seeing each other,” said Cohda CEO Paul Gray. 

Cohda and Cisco (cisco.com) have jointly developed roadside equipment that enables V2I—vehicle to infrastructure—communications for safety applications such as curve speed warnings and traffic signal violation warnings, both of which are of critical importance to motorcycle riders. 

 

Brighter, Stronger, Cooler 
In announcing the global launch of its TitanBrite Wireless Bonded LED, Lumex (lumex.com) says the product is 15% brighter, five times stronger and 25% cooler (as in temperature) than competitor versions. 

The wireless bonded technology, also known as “flip chip,” results in LEDs that are five times stronger than surface mount technology LEDs, Lumex says. That’s because of the absence of a wire bond and hard epoxy layer. Its design makes the light more resistant to vibration, provides better heat dissipation, and improves light distribution because the chip can directly emit light from the top and side of the unit without shadows from a wire bond. 

Available in the standard 3- and 6-W versions, the TitanBright also comes in a 9-W variety. They also are the only LEDs of their kind that can be customized by shape, as in octagons and triangles, Lumex notes. The product comes in warm/cool white and blue colors. With the range, the LED finds uses in running lights, dome lights, footwells and floorboard runners. Pricing runs from $6 to $10 per unit.

Lumex’s TitanBrite Wireless Bonded LED 

 

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