PSA takes the fast lane in automotive electronics

PSA takes the fast lane in automotive electronics
Interviews |
French carmaker PSA Group recently made headlines for its intention to take over competitor Opel / Vauxhall. Independently, PSA is currently on the fast track in terms of automotive electronics. At the recent Automotive Ethernet Congress in Munich, PSA top electronics developer Jean-François Salessy provided insights into the carmaker’s strategy in terms of electronics.
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

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Like most of its competitors, PSA drives the development of its driver assistance systems towards higher degrees of automated driving; by 2020, the company plans to offer automated driving on highways with separate directional lanes. In 2022, the vehicles from PSA will be capable of automated overtaking on highways. In this context, the driver will still decide when to start the passing maneuver. Automated driving in urban environments is not on PSA’s roadmap, but the company is exploring the technology that would be needed. (On March 1, PSA received the permission to perform test drives in France with automated vehicles and lay drivers at the wheel).

Like BMW and Jaguar Land Rover, PSA is advocating the use of Automotive Ethernet as a data backbone for its vehicles. Presently, the central use case for this technology at PSA is the link between a smart antenna unit and a body control module. In this application, a single twisted pair Ethernet routes all communication streams between the vehicle and the outside world, including infotainment, vehicle diagnosis and vehicle management data. In one of the next steps, Salessy plans to establish Ethernet as the communication link for cameras, and later for lidar and radar. In such an environment, higher bandwidths will be needed. “Odds are that 100 Mbps won’t be the end of the story.” Salessy said. Headroom to grow the amounts of data could be offered by Gigabit Ethernet – appropriately, at the Munich event, Spanish chipmaker KDPOF introduced first samples of its plastic optical fiber (POF) transceiver chip for Automotive Gigabit Ethernet.


The development towards automated driving will require innovative electronics architectures in the car, Salessy pointed out. “There will be a central platform”, he said. This central computing platform will likely develop from the dedicated Safety ECU that ensures functional safety. Such a Safety ECU will be required for Level 3 of autonomy and handle all sensor data. 

Salessy strongly recommended the use of standard technologies in automotive electronics, and this is why PSA is committed to Ethernet. “You cannot deal with proprietary solutions”, Salessy said. “We have been through this journey before”, referring to a proprietary version of CAN which Peugeot developed with Renault back in the nineties. “It was a very good solution, but it was not an international standard”, he said. “We absolutely want to avoid this story again”. With standard technology, a carmaker has a much larger choice at different levels – tier one suppliers, tools and engineering skills.

Upon the question “when will you enable software updates over the air (OTA)?”, Salessy answered with a counterquestion: “What do you want to update?”, hinting that this feature depends on the amount of data and the requied level of security involved. The capability to update all software of all ECUs in the car will take some time before it will arrive in series vehicles. However, PSA cars have already limited OTA capabilities; by the end of the current year, PSA plans to expand this feature to the infotainment system, and by 2020 to a number of additional ECUs.

Related articles:

First POF transceiver for automotive Gigabit Ethernet sampled

NXP rolls Ethernet product family for next-gen data-rich cars

Automotive Ethernet needed for adaptive headlights, says Porsche

 

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