Computing on the Move
By improving fleet management, monitoring and infotainment, intelligent transportation systems continue to provide a richer set of functionalities for today’s vehicles. Embedded computer vendors are keeping pace with highly integrated, high-performance box-level systems.
Transportation systems are relying on advanced embedded PC technology for both the control side and passenger entertainment side of systems. They need sophisticated networking, data collection and real-time control, all while meeting safety standards.
Innovations in data analysis and artificial intelligence (AI) continue to improve every sector of intelligent transportation. Everything including smart buses, public safety vehicles (ambulances, fire trucks and so forth) and truck fleet management are leveraging these technologies. Smart buses are integrating public information systems, driver monitoring and in-vehicle safety monitoring. Public safety vehicles are including emergency response and real-time medical record access for ambulance personnel. And, for trucking fleets, there are now centralized fleet management systems for fleet managers, real-time vehicle communication and live vehicle route tracking.
Embedded computing systems vendors have kept pace, rolling out solutions to meet diverse needs. Over the last 12 months, embedded computing vendors have introduced a variety of box-level systems designed for in-vehicle use.
Exemplifying these trends, in September Advantech announced the TREK-60 modular, an in-vehicle AI platform—the next-generation model of its widely adopted TREK-674 in-vehicle computing box. Aimed at fleet management and surveillance applications, TREK-60 and supports a 7th generation Intel Core i7/i5/Atom E3900 quad-core processor for flexible configuration according to specific usage requirements (Figure 1).
To enable hybrid video surveillance, TREK-60 supports up to eight camera input channels. The embedded dual CAN bus supports diverse vehicle protocols, including raw CAN, J1939 and OBD-II, for vehicle monitoring and diagnostics, while the intelligent vehicle power management system supports ignition on/off/delay and wake-up event control.
Compatible with 12V/24V vehicle power (ISO 7637-2) and a wide power input range (9VDC to 32VDC), TREK-60 can withstand operation in extreme in-vehicle environments. Moreover, the modular design allows the system I/O to be extended to facilitate the integration of optional modules. Finally, with the integration of Intel’s OpenVINO toolkit for convenient deployment, TREK-60 provides a robust and highly customizable in-vehicle solution for public transportation, emergency services, heavy-duty vehicles and utility fleets.
The inclusion of an RF extension module that supports WLAN, Bluetooth, WWAN and GPS technology and features an automotive-grade Hirose GT series/Amphenol RF FAKRA connector allows for reliable wireless communication and easy maintenance. Equipped with an I/O extension module, TREK-60 can be integrated with additional optional Edge AI, 5G communication and DSRC/V2X modules that expand the system functionalities at minimal cost.
For enhanced vehicle management, TREK-60 features a built-in G sensor and gyroscope for data collection and can be integrated with an optional Intel Movidius Myriad X vision processing unit and OpenVINO toolkit to facilitate deep learning and AI processing. Built to withstand operation in harsh in-vehicle environments, TREK-60 supports a wide operating temperature range and is compliant with MIL-STD-810G and EN60721-3(5M3) specifications for vibration/shock resistance.
AI FOR THE TRANSPORTATION EDGE
AI is showing up in diverse applications, and transportation is no exception. Along those lines, the VPC-3350AI embedded PC from Aaeon combines two Intel Myriad X VPUs with the Intel Atom x5 processor. Built for industrial and in-vehicle use, the VPC-3350AI provides faster and smoother AI processing compared to similar systems that rely on CPU performance alone, says Aaeon,
Together, the Atom x5 E3940 (formerly Apollo Lake) and two Intel Movidius Myriad X VPU modules provide the VPC-3350AI with processing speeds up to 210FPS (frames per second) and 8TOPS as a dedicated neural network accelerator (evaluated by GooLeNet) (Figure 2). This configuration of two VPUs with a processor enables the VPC-3350AI to support asynchronous processing of AI models, allowing for higher framerates and faster, smoother image processing for AI inferences.
The VPC-3350AI features a thermal design that provides wide temperature operations from -20°C to 60°C, well suited for operating in almost any environment. The VPC-3350AI is designed with an assortment of I/O ports including four POE ports, two COM, and USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, allowing for flexibility to integrate with any project. Aaeon’s OEM/ODM and manufacturer services provide options for clients to configure the VPC-3350AI to their needs, including providing up to four Intel Movidius Myriad X VPUs, expanded I/O and functionality for in-vehicle operations.
The VPC-3350AI is a good fit for AI and edge computing applications, including license plate and facial recognition. As an in-vehicle AI embedded system, it helps to power driver-safety applications such as advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) or driver monitoring and behavior analysis for heavy vehicle operators.
IN-VEHICLE IoT GATEWAY
The IoT isn’t just for stationary applications, vehicles are taking advantage of the technology too, and that drives the need for in-vehicle IoT gateways. Such gateways are in demand for all kinds of platforms, including shuttle buses, police cars, ambulances or heavy-duty trucks. Feeding such needs, in March Axiomtek introduced the UST210-83K-FL, its new compact DIN-rail fanless in-vehicle box PC powered by the Intel Atom x5-E3940 processor (codename: Apollo Lake-I) (Figure 3).
The UST210-83K-FL features the Smart Ignition function for power on/off scheduling to protect the vehicle battery from unstable voltages. Furthermore, the in-vehicle box PC is in compliance with ISO 7637-2 and can endure vibrations of up to 3Grms, ensuring stable and reliable operation under challenging environmental conditions. The ruggedized in-vehicle embedded system features front-accessible I/O ports for easy access and maintenance. The UST210-83K-FL is specially designed for in-vehicle applications such as vehicle controls, fleet monitoring, management systems and in-vehicle edge computing.
The cost-effective UST210-83K-FL has one DDR3L-1866 SO-DIMM slot with a maximum of 8GB of system memory. Combining a flexible configuration with a design permitting easy expansion, the fanless embedded system supports an array of functional I/O ports. These include two COM ports or one COM port and one CANbus 2.0 A/B port supporting SocketCAN, one HDMI port, four RJ-45 Gigabit PoE ports or four RJ-45 Gigabit LAN ports (with Intel Ethernet Controller I211-AT), two USB 3.0 ports, one DB9 8-bit programmable DIO port and four antenna openings.
The box PC also has one full-size PCI Express Mini Card slot (USB interface with SIM socket) and one half-size PCI Express Mini Card slot (mSATA/USB interface) for a wide selection of modules. A half-size mSATA card placed in the PCI Express Mini Card slot and an internal 2.5″ SATA drive are available for additional storage. This flexible IoT gateway is compatible with Windows 10. It supports Axiomtek’s exclusive AXView software to fulfill the requirements for remote monitoring and it features Trusted Platform Module 2.0 (TPM 2.0) to ensure critical information security. Additionally, it supports DIN rail and wall mounting for easy installation in a space-constrained control cabinet. It has a wide operating temperature range from -40°C to +70°C.
Transportation systems have evolved into robust, networked communications systems. As result, they need to keep pace with the latest technologies such as 5G. With that in mind, Kontron in April announced the TRACe-B104-TR/IV, a compact multipurpose fanless edge computer for use in space-constrained rolling stock applications (Figure 4). The system combines performance with flexible connectivity and storage options.
The 5G-ready TRACe-B104-TR/IV leverages the performance and graphics capability of the new Intel Atom x6425E SoC 10nm architecture which offers 1.7x the CPU performance and 2x the GPU performance of its previous generation. This is combined with a compact field-proven EN50155 rail-certified box computer design, supporting several operating systems such as Linux and Windows 10/ Windows 10 IoT while offering multiple I/O and storage options including 5G/LTE, Wi-Fi, SSD, GPS via M.2 and mPCIe sockets.
The flexibility of the TRACe-B104 means it can be easily integrated in a wide range of demanding rail and bus applications, from onboard gateways and network video recorders to passenger infotainment, Wi-Fi, diagnostic and smart vehicle servers, as well as ticketing systems and UCPe/SDWANs. Equipped with Kontron SEC-Line firmware (hardened openWrt hypervisor) and cellular and/or Wi-Fi modems, the system is transformed into a secure edge server/router gateway offering hardware root of trust, cybersecurity protection, virtualization and fleet management tools.
Meeting ITxPT specifications, the Kontron TRACe-B104 includes as standard numerous I/Os: 3x Gigabit Ethernet ports of which two can be PSE, 2x USB3.0/2.0 + 1x M12 USB2.0, 8x insulated digital I/Os, 2x insulated RS232/ 422/485, audio, display port, extractible SATA 2.5″ disk with hot swap capability) on robust connectors as well as 4x extensions sockets (3x M.2, 1x Mini PCI Express). The compact rugged aluminum enclosure can be wall or rack mounted, measuring 280mm × 186mm × 60mm (without wall mounting brackets). Operating/storage temperature range is -40°C to +70°C, 10min at 85°C/ EN50155 Class OT4 depending on configuration -40°C to +85°C.
DESIGNED FOR MULTI-USE
A lot of overlap exists between applications using rugged embedded PCs. As a consequence, sometimes a product designed for general use is appropriate for transportation applications. An example is the Karbon 410 from OnLogic. Powered by a dual-core Intel Atom x6211E, or Quad-Core x6425E processor, Karbon 410 offers a unique combination of features, power and connectivity (Figure 5). The integrated Intel Programmable Services Engine (Intel PSE) enables support for a host of connectivity and power management functions, including CAN bus and automotive power control for in-vehicle applications. All of this makes Karbon 410 well suited as a rugged Industrial IoT gateway, edge device or embedded controller.
Measuring just over 2″ tall, and with support for Wall, DIN Rail or VESA mounting, the Karbon 410 was designed to be installed anywhere you need ultra-reliable computing power. Sensitive internal components are protected from dust, debris, chemicals, and moisture with OnLogic’s integrated Hardshell Fanless Technology. Its rugged design, -40°C to 70°C operating temperature range, 9V-48V power input, and the absence of any moving parts dramatically improve the lifespan and reliability of the system.
The Karbon 410’s modularity and tiny footprint make it perfect for even the most inhospitable Industrial IoT or Industry 4.0 environments. Environmental testing is in process for Medical EMC (60601-1), Rail EMC (50121), Maritime EMC (60945), Automotive E-mark, as well as IEC and MIL-STD-810 shock and vibration. All of this performance is safely delivered inside a system NRTL listed to UL/IEC 62368-1, accompanied by a CB scheme.
Standard I/O includes two USB 3.2 and two USB 2.0 ports, dual LAN (with optional PoE), CAN bus (via 3-pin terminal block) and a DisplayPort. Onboard automotive ignition control allows you to program the on/off state of the system based on the power state of a vehicle, and the system’s integrated SIM slot and optional WiFi and 4G LTE give you wireless access to your critical data from anywhere. In addition, you can leverage OnLogic’s unique ModBay expansion capabilities to add dual COM or GPIO.
GPUs FOR TRANSPORTATION
The compute power of GPUs (graphics processing units) is yet another embedded technology that transportation system developers are anxious to leverage. Serving such needs, in March Cincoze launched the GP-3000, what is calls its flagship model system for AI and machine vision applications (Figure 6). It marries high-end computing performance, rich high-speed I/O, and harsh environment resilience to enable edge computing in the AIoT framework. It is designed for implementing multiple applications on the field side, such as smart manufacturing and transportation.
The GP-3000 supports an Intel Xeon/Core (Coffee Lake-R & Coffee Lake) processor and sports the Intel C246 chipset, with up to two sets of DDR4-2666 ECC/non-ECC SO-DIMMs for a maximum of 64GB of total memory. This setup provides a combination of efficient processing and parallel processing. The GPU Expansion Box (GEB) supports up to two 250W high-end full-length (less than 328mm) GPU cards to further enhance its processing capabilities. The high-speed I/O ports, with the simple addition of a camera, become the machine equipment’s eyes, allowing for the quick and accurate inspection and categorization of high-definition image inputs.
Ensuring passenger safety is always the primary criterion of transportation, and AI-enhanced systems can provide advanced monitoring of drivers, vehicles, and tracks. The Cincoze GP-3000 has powerful image processing capabilities and a high-performance CPU, which can quickly detect and analyze images to increase station safety monitoring, detect driver fatigue and monitor road and track conditions. In addition, the GP-3000 supports desktop, face-up, wall and rack mounting, to be installed in various car bodies or road application environments such as autonomous vehicles, in-vehicle supervision, remote signal monitoring, railway track monitoring and railway bogie condition monitoring.
The IGN module (power ignition sensing) can monitor the on-board battery voltage and set a delayed shutdown time to avoid damage to the system due to unstable current or instantaneous flameout when the vehicle starts. In the face of severe shaking and vibrations associated with the car body running or stopping, the “adjustable 3D GPU mount” exclusively designed for the GP-3000 keeps the GPU card firmly in place, even when shaken.
Three international certifications—the US military equipment inspection standard (MIL-STD-810G), E-mark and EN 50155 (EN 50121-3-2 only)—demonstrate the high stability and resilience of the GP-3000. The GP-3000 uses all industrial-grade parts to defend against harsh environments, boasting an operating temperature range from -40°C to 70°C. It features multiple protection systems such as overvoltage (OVP), overcurrent (OCP) and power reverse protection.
A key element of today’s transportation systems is infotainment. Mass transit systems have particularly demanding infotainment needs. Serving such demands, in April Sintrones unveiled its VBOX-3611-4L-D5G in-vehicle computer. The company says it is the first in-vehicle fanless computer with dual 5G network capability and dual SIM Card support (Figure 7). System developers can apply it to a mobile video, a network server with dual 5G aggregated network or a redundant network for the mass transit infotainment market.
Overall data delivery over wireless networks are expected to increase exponentially in the coming years, says Sintrones. The same trend applies to the transportation field. The challenge is that an unstable vehicle power source and an unstable signal strength both depend on the area. With the VBOX-3611-4L-D5G solution, the data speed can be doubled to provide efficient data transmission for classic and new applications while in a moving vehicle.
In addition, dual 5G mobile network configuration enables uninterrupted mobile network connection and avoids costly data roaming charges for transcontinental transports. For example, a train can move between Germany and France with German and French SIM cards installed. Passengers can luxuriate with quality entertainment during their commute.
Besides improving the passenger’s experience, Sintrones’ VBOX-3611-4L-D5G solution overcomes the above-mentioned challenges for the vehicle’s operation such as fleet management and Smart Train systems. With dual 5G modems and SIM cards installed, one can serve as a backup for unpredictable situations. Dual SIM design can be activated automatically based on the system setup configuration. The backup SIM card activates immediately as needed.
The VBOX-3611-4L-D5G is powered by Intel Gen 6 Core i7-6600U CPU and features wide range 9VDC to 48VDC power inputs, smart vehicle power ignition and adjustable power management. E13- and EN50155-certified power system design for a variety of vehicles can be adapted to an unstable vehicle power source with ease. With the optional CANbus and GPS, Dead Reckoning provides interfaces for real-time vehicle status monitoring and accurate location tracking.
12W RUGGED EMBEDDED PC
It makes sense that many of the most successful rugged embedded PC products have emerged from companies with long expertise in rugged SBC design. These products are well suited for transportation applications. Along just those lines, WINSYSTEMS offers its SYS-ITX-N-3900 industrial computing platform. The SYS-ITX-N-3900 is an industrial embedded computer based on the Intel Atom E3900 Apollo Lake processor family (Figure 8).
The system uses less than 12W for fanless applications and performs reliably in industrial operating temperatures ranging from -20ºC to +60ºC. It includes a SODIMM socket supporting up to 8GB of DDR3 system memory and internal mounting support for one 2.5″ SATA HDD/SSD. Additional expansion is available through MiniPCIe.
The SYS-ITX-N-3900 is a full-featured fanless embedded computer with onboard I/O that simultaneously supports VGA and DisplayPort video, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB 3.0 ports, one serial RS-232/422/485 port, audio and watchdog timer. It also has a half-size MiniPCIe socket and an antenna hole for Wi-Fi or 3G/GPS module.
This embedded computer supports Linux, Windows 10 Desktop, Windows 10 IoT, and other x86-compatible real-time operating systems. Drivers are available from the WINSYSTEMS website. The SYS-ITX-N-3900 is designed for long-term availability and is FCC- and CE-certified.
Aaeon | www.aaeon.com
Advantech | www.advantech.com
Axiomtek | us.axiomtek.com
Cincoze | www.cincoze.com
Kontron | www.kontron.com
OnLogic | www.onlogic.com
Sintrones | www.sintrones.com
WINSYSTEMS | www.winsystems.com
PUBLISHED IN CIRCUIT CELLAR MAGAZINE • JUNE 2021 #371 – Get a PDF of the issueSponsor this Article
Jeff served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxGizmos.com and its sister publication, Circuit Cellar magazine 6/2017—3/2022. In nearly three decades of covering the embedded electronics and computing industry, Jeff has also held senior editorial positions at EE Times, Computer Design, Electronic Design, Embedded Systems Development, and COTS Journal. His knowledge spans a broad range of electronics and computing topics, including CPUs, MCUs, memory, storage, graphics, power supplies, software development, and real-time OSes.