NXP Development Platform Aims to Unify Car Wireless Connectivity
NXP’s OrangeBox looks to bring all forms of vehicle connectivity into one development platform leveraging its densely integrated hardware and single point-of-access architecture.
This week, NXP Semiconductors announced its OrangeBox development platform, built to integrate both existing and emerging automotive technologies into a single product family.
As vehicles increase their connectivity, they also increase their complexity, making automotive software design a daunting task. NXP’s OrangeBox aims to provide an all-in-one automotive development platform that unifies all connectivity protocols.
The NXP OrangeBox can be used to unify wired and wireless connectivity within a vehicle. Image used courtesy of NXP Semiconductors
In this article, we’ll do a brief overview of the current automotive connectivity ecosystem, along with an explanation of its shortcomings and design challenges. OrangeBox’s potential role in solving these problems will then be discussed, as well as some of the key features of the new platform and the future of automotive connectivity.
The Fractured World of Automotive Connectivity
In keeping with our society’s trend toward connectivity, vehicles are sporting an abundance of wireless and wired technologies to enhance the user’s operation experience. For end-users, this is a major benefit, but for designers, this becomes a massive headache. As more and more protocols are supported such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or NFC, designers must put more time and effort into ensuring that each protocol cohesively works alongside the others. As the number of connectivity options increases, so too do the development costs and challenges.
Image highlighting the multiple connectivity standards that exist within next-generation vehicles. Image used courtesy of NXP Semiconductors
The preexisting NXP car connectivity ecosystem supports a variety of wireless communication methods: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth, 4G/5G cellular, secure access, GNSS global positioning, and broadcast radio. In addition, the Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) concept is getting the jump on vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications for autonomous driving efforts.
As autonomous driving becomes more mainstream, V2X may be a solution for real-time feedback from other vehicles or infrastructure to optimize autonomous traffic flow. With all of these wireless protocols, vehicle-wide integration becomes quite taxing and provides an increase in points of failure or security weak points, both of which are paramount for automotive technology. More information is available in NXP’s OrangeBox video.
A Tidy, Unified Solution for Car Connectivity
After realizing that automotive connectivity is no simple task, NXP developed and released its OrangeBox platform to help simplify vehicular connectivity. The OrangeBox comes equipped with all the hardware necessary to achieve full wired and wireless connectivity within the vehicle and supports all of the aforementioned communications protocols.
OrangeBox connectivity domain block diagram, illustrating the multiple connectivity protocols supported in a single reference design. Image used courtesy of NXP Semiconductors. (Click image to enlarge)
The true ingenuity of the OrangeBox doesn’t lie solely in its multitude of connectivity options, but also in its ability to provide a single point of communication to the rest of the vehicle’s hardware, reducing the complexity of vehicle-level designs and lowering the number of security weak points. The unit’s features are summarized in the OrangeBox fact sheet.
The OrangeBox is also compatible with NXP’s GoldBox, which serves as a central vehicle gateway. This mutually beneficial interaction would allow multiple automotive services to leverage the enhanced connectivity provided by OrangeBox.
Thinking Outside the OrangeBox
The release of OrangeBox is a major step toward enhanced vehicle connectivity. Wireless secure access, over-the-air updates, and seamless user-vehicle connection provided by the OrangeBox drastically improve the driving experience. In addition, the support for NXP’s V2X technology combined with the OrangeBox reference design has added a powerful tool to our autonomous driving toolbox.
Inter-vehicle or vehicle-infrastructure communication enabled by V2X would offer a new method of solving complex driving problems with collaboration from all participants to arrive at the optimal solution, helping to bring us one step closer to safe and reliable autonomous driving.