Advanced Automotive Electronics 2006 Conference and Exhibition


Williams RBS F1 Conference Centre, Oxford , UK

25 January 2006


The first AAE conference was held at the William RBS F1 Centre near Wantage in Oxfordshire , UK .  The facility itself was very impressive and a good turnout of around 120 delegates made the trip to this relatively remote part of Oxford .  The conference ran 3 simultaneous streams of presentations; Embedded Technology, Infotainment Technology and Emerging Technology.  The papers were timed so that it was possible to swap between streams after each presentation and quite a lot of swapping did occur, as there were several delegates interested in topics that spanned all 3 technology areas.  Proceedings were supplied on a 128MB USB pen that included all available presentations and papers.


Emerging Technologies


Low Cost Radar Sensor Fusion

Peter Bell, Cambridge Consultants Ltd


The background of this work is the US NHTSA study showing that 80% of accidents are caused by driver inattention, hence the increased use of driver safety aids for accident avoidance.  The presentation looked at some of the current techniques being investigated or in use; lane change detection, blind spot radar, lane departure warnings, stop-go urban cruise control, automatic cruise control, cut-in impact avoidance and active pedestrian protection.  Both vision and radar methods were considered and the benefits and limitations of both outlines, this included radar at 5.8GHz, 24GHz and 79GHz.  CCL have adopted 5.8GHz radar due to cost benefits of being able to “piggy-back” off other wireless developments around this frequency (IEEE 802.11p).  The fusion solution is CLL’s mix of both radar and vision systems as the solution to the limitations of each to provide a combined, cost effective solution to many of the applications listed a the start.


Paper in proceedings.



The Williams RBS F1 Centre

Roadmaps of Key Vehicle Technologies to 2015

Akhila Venkitachalam, Frost and Sullivan


This presentation was a tour-de-force of the forecast of virtually all electronic technology areas within a vehicle for the next 10 years.  Some of the forecasts seemed a bit difficult to believe, such as a reduction in the pervasiveness of ECU electronics and 100% penetration of Bluetooth by 2015 (I think CSR must have provided this data), but others were more easy to swallow such as the general increase in electronics in virtually all sections of the vehicle architecture and others have to be accepted as the best available guess (results were from research via polling and trend analysis, I am being somewhat disingenuous to suggest these are guesses).  The drivers for some of these technology changes were touched upon (e.g. Euro NCAP driving safety innovation) but, probably due to the sheer volume of data being presented, were not explored in detail.  The attendance for this presentation was close to half of the total delegates and it was standing room only in the room, and well worth standing for as this was an excellent and extremely comprehensive look at what way the market is going for automotive electronics.


Presentation in proceedings


Ultracapacitors Drive New Efficiency for Powetrain

Gianni Santorelli, Maxwell Technologies


I’ve been to many presentations on the application of super-capacitors in automotive circuits over the past 5 to 10 years, so I wasn’t expecting much from this, but I was very impressed and this presentation showed genuine usage and gave results of efficiency improvements.  Some of the applications had been in rail transport in the early days of the products development, but latterly the company have clearly made been inroads into public transport and these results suggest impressive 30% energy reductions and 50% peak power demands from the primary source using Ultracapacitors as the boost energy supply.  Mr Santorelli described the construction of these devices in enough detail to get a very good understanding of the chemistry and this was useful to understand the benefits and limitations (unlike some previous presentations I’ve attended on this topic, this one was a “warts and all” and did not try an suggest this technology is the solution to all energy storage requirements).  The benefits of the technology for downsizing the battery pack for hybrids could be one of the main areas this product gains a big foothold in the automotive sector.  It was also surprisingly non-commercial and I had to revisit my programme to recall who Mr Santorelli works, for so he deserves congratulating on that as well as on providing an impressive and informative presentation.


Presentation and paper in proceedings.


Infotainment Technology


Noise Reduction, Echo Cancellation and Signal Enhancement – Being Heard

Nathan Blundy, NCT


This presentation featured a lot of sound clips illustrating the effect of some of the principles being discussed that made the presentation stand out as different.  The first ideas were relatively basic and to me seemed like rather obvious advice; use uni- rather than omni-directional microphones, separate microphone and speaker, use wider bandwidth (8kHz rather than 4kHz), use maximum available dynamic range.  The second part of the presentation considered the use of a DSP in 3 specific in-vehicle applications; in-car voice call, speech recognition and emergency vehicle communications (with a siren in the background).  The presentation looked at the effect of various speech recognition algorithms and subtraction and noise cancellation techniques.  Although the processes were demonstrated effectively there was little detail on the non-linear programming (NLP) algorithms or how they were implemented, I expect these are embedded within the NCT software?  The effects were 50dB of echo cancellation, increase from 90% to 100% on spoken character recognition at 70mph and up to 18dB of noise reduction.


Presentation and white paper in proceedings.


A PWM for LED Drivers

Nic Houslip, Supertex


Probably the most commercial of the presentations I attended, this firstly looked at the emergence of high brightness, high power LED lighting as a technology gaining market in the automotive environment.  The need to meet load dump and cold cranking conditions were considered as some of the drivers for the gain of LED (although this has not stopped the incandescent bulb dominating the market).  The circuits for driving these high-powered LED’s are not unfamiliar to those of us who have designed SMPS circuits, these are the usual buck-boost circuits running in constant current rather than constant voltage control mode.  The solutions were presented using Supertex devices and their roadmap of product development was shown.  This minor bit of commercialism did not detract from an informative presentation on some of the issues surrounding the change from basic regulation for LED’s or no-regulation for bulbs to relatively complex current regulation for modern LED lighting circuits in an automotive application.


Presentation in proceedings


Embedded Technology


Key Elements of Flexray

Jens Kjelsbak, IPextreme


This paper can be summed up in a single sentence; if designing a chip for an established protocol, use available IP rather than design from the ground up.  This advice is applicable to any network interfacing chip design, not just for Flexray.  The background of the presenter is in other network protocol implementations and the experience there is that not using an established IP for protocol stack is a sure fire way to produce something that is not 100% compliant with the standard, especially as standards are emerging.


Presentation and paper in proceedings.


Having the refreshments in the  exhibition hall gave a busy feel to the exhibition, which was well supported by the automotive software industry.



The museum tour at the end of the day was well attended by exhibitors and delegates alike.



The exhibition was well supported with 20 stands, most exhibitors appeared to be software tool and test organisations for the automotive market, but they were all well visited and very professionally set-up.  The refreshments and lunch were all served in the exhibition area and this gave the exhibitors easy access to delegates (and vice versa) and made the exhibition look busy.


Tour of Williams F1 Museum


To top off an excellent day there was also a tour of the Williams F1 "museum", featuring many of their cars from the last thre or so decades of racing history.  Williams may not be the most successful team of late, but their dominanace in the 90's and significant successes of the 70's and 80's was well displayed and well attended. 




Although there were only 6 papers presented in any one stream, the ones I attended were all of very high quality and the 3 morning papers on Emerging Technologies were excellent, especially the Frost & Sullivan presentation that was worth the trip alone for anyone working at the forefront of automotive electronics.  The proceedings, although not complete, are well compiled and supplying on a USB pen is an excellent idea (any electronic format is preferable to paper today).  The second conference is already in planning for next year at the Motor Heritage Centre, Gaydon, UK and based on this first event I expect another excellent series of presentations.



Martin O’Hara

January 2006


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