Connected Car Of The Future Stella Gets London Debut

The world’s first solar-powered family car Stella made an appearance at London Docklands.

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By Martijn van der Linden
At NXP we feel it’s vital that for the connected car to have a future we need to begin openly discussing the issues of security and privacy.

The roundtable discussion at The Crystal was chaired by industry analyst Dr. Charles V Clarke and featured contributions from Ferry Smith, Director Public Affairs, Royal Dutch Touring club ANWB, Lars Reger, Vice President, Head of Strategy, New Business, R&D, Business Unit Automotive, NXP, Professor Bart Jacobs, Computer Security, Radboud University Nijmegen and Steve Nevey, Formula One Motor Racing speaker.

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Over the course of an hour the vigorous discussion covered a number of important topics including ownership of data, ‘big brother’ snooping and ensuring security in safety critical automotive services. For those in the automotive industry these are concerns that need to be tackled if the connected car is to become a reality.

One of the most interesting points raised was around insurance and the privacy concerns around customer data. “We found that people are quite easily tempted to give away their privacy in exchange for some benefits” said Ferry Smith. “As a driver you can opt in and say do you know what I would quite like to reduce my insurance premium…and I’ll modify my driving habits, so that makes me a safer driver,” added Steve Nevey.

Despite the scale of the challenges facing the industry Lars Reger of NXP remains optimistic: “The next decade is the car connectivity decade for sure. We’ll have telematics everywhere and car to car communications, the question is how open will these systems ever be or how quickly will these systems be open?”

Professor Bart Jacobs also gave his view on the future of the connected car, “What will the future car be, a smartphone on wheels or an aeroplane on wheels?…the answer is probably somewhere in the middle.”

You can see highlights of the roundtable in the video below:


Experiencing Stella
Later in the day the media, from UK national and trade publications, were invited to ride in Stella the connected solar car. Built by students from the Eindhoven University of Technology the car won the 2013 World Solar Challenge in Australia the car was a huge hit with the media, including the Sunday Times:

As well is the impressive solar technology the journalists were also able to experience NXP’s Car2X technology and see how an On Board Unit in Stella, powered by NXP’s LPC1759 microcontroller, can help to make traffic safer. During an on-road demo passengers in the car passengers could see via an installed screen a warning of road works ahead and suggest corrective action, a feature of the cars of the future.

This system uses NXPs specialist automotive technology and Wi-Fi standard, 802.11p, to transfer data. In the future this connected car technology is set to become central to the automotive industry by allowing vehicles on the road to automatically exchange information about their speed, position and direction in order to prevent accidents and traffic problems.

It also lets them communicate with local infrastructure to determine the speed limit as well as the phasing and timing of cooperative traffic lights. These elements allow major cities to significantly improve their traffic flow and enable cars to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

Of course the ultimate focus was on security and in that regard Lars was able to explain the NXP vision for security in the connected car:

“We have a lot of security mechanisms from other industries already, so it’s not that the automotive industry is saying we need to invent security for cars. No. We have banking security, we have passport security we have health card security and a lot of these back send services in place. For us a big task is now with the right people in research and in other industries, finding out how we lift these concepts over in a robust way into cars.”

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Martijn van der Linden is PR & Communications Manager for EMEA at NXP Semiconductors.
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