There’s only a couple of weeks left until the next Formula 1 season will be kicking off. The real fans can hardly wait any longer to hear the engines roar again. Last week we had the honour to use the holy rooms of the Ferrari Museum in Maranello, Italy for a special workshop. I was not about the latest developments of the new Ferrari race car. But the overall topic was automotive vehicles too – different kinds though.
Together with our supplier partner Infineon Technologies, we organize the “TQ on Tour” seminar series. The idea behind the events goes along with the publication of our successful knowledge magazine “The Quintessence”. To impart practice-oriented knowledge about future applications in modern electronics is the objective.
The first seminar of the series was dedicated to and addressed to innovative manufacturers of agricultural machinery and commercial vehicles. During this event it was not about a monolog, but about dialog. Together with branch experts technical solutions and the latest semiconductor trends were discussed in detail after each presentation.
Preparing For The Future
Digitalisation is one of these global trends that will influence mankind in many ways, although we haven’t seen the full extent of this impact yet. It’s for sure that computers will play an increasingly significant role in the future, also in commercial and agricultural vehicles (CAV). “Independently of the technologies that will be implemented in CAVs in the future, it is predictable that there will be connectivity in some way. This creates the need for security technologies and hardware,” says Bruno Soi, Business Development Manager Automotive South Europe at EBV Elektronik and organizer of the “TQ on Tour” event in Italy.
The Importance Of Data Collection
A huge amount of data is needed to enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication. These are produced by all kinds of sensors and cameras, which are built in the vehicle. GPS systems for navigation will be one of the key elements of agriculture in the future. When the machines move round they collect data. There will be a need for smart software to review all data. Smart systems will help the farmer of the future to interpret data and make decisions. A scenario could be the use of the right quantity of fertilizer in production, based on data about the plant’s colour, to help the product grow better. There are still challenges to overcome until precision farming becomes common practice. Standards are needed, including for handling standard communication between machine and the cloud.
Security And Safety In CAV
To meet the challenges and to push the industry forward, standards can be an effective tool. This also and especially applies to safety. The new version of ISO26262, the standard for functional safety of electrical and electronic systems (E/E) in production automobile, is a big step into the right direction. It includes a vital topic that was too much neglected in the past. The chapter “Application to Semiconductor” basically describes that all the vital electronic components must be protected from hacking, which consequently makes an autonomous vehicle safer. There are thoughtful efforts needed to develop cryptography forward and to deal with security issue. “These standards will help develop this business with more discipline and more guarantees and harmonise development,” John Favaro, Senior Consultant at Intecs states during his presentation in Maranello.
CAV is a niche market for electric vehicles. Lack of noise, pollution and lower operating costs are obvious advantages of those types of cars. But if you ask people about the challenges of this technology, they will answer that energy density of the batteries is not sufficient. How can this be improved? The implementation of standardisation and an infrastructure would be a first step. The second is to improve the current technology to reach the highest possible level of energy density.
To conclude, there’s still quite some efforts to be done in order to reach an efficient level of precision farming. Agricultural processes must be improved and require more connectivity and a better communication bandwidth. Existing technologies from industrial and automotive can be used but must be adopted to the field of precision farming. More efficient systems will mean less environmental impacts and greener machinery. The transition is in progress, and new and old machines must be compatible in the meantime. But in the future there will be several machine connected together in co-operation. That was the quintessence of the discussion during the “TQ on Tour” seminar in in Maranello.