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In-car telematics and connectivity platform runs Linux

Sep 14, 2017 — by Eric Brown 1,677 views

Laird unveiled a Linux-based “Open Platform” for telematics and in-car connectivity with WiFi, BLE, and NFC, and optional GPS/Glonass, LTE, and 802.11p.

Linux is finding its way into car systems that move beyond in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) and into telematics and connectivity. On the low end, we’ve seen products like the recent, Raspberry Pi Zero W based AutoPi OBD-II dongle. This week at the inaugural Mobile World Congress Americas show in San Francisco, Laird is showing off a higher-end, OEM-focused “modular and scalable telematics platform” based on an open Linux platform.

Laird’s Open Platform
(click image to enlarge)

Laird’s Open Platform, which it also refers to as its Car Connectivity Platform, supports applications including FOTA updates, WiFi hotspots for up to 8x devices, and eCALL emergency calling service, which will be required in Europe starting in April 2018. The technology can also be used for developing smartphone-based vehicle remote control applications for turning on lights or checking the status of battery, fuel, and climate controls.

Sample remote control app (left) and eCALL conceptual diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The core offering of the modular Open Platform is an MCU-based telematics control unit with AutoSAR connections compliant with CAN, LIN, K-Line, and optional OBD-II buses. The telematics stack includes support for SMS, TCP/IP, http, MQTT, TLS 1.2, and various telematics protocols.

This telematics unit connects to a Linux-driven connectivity platform that controls WiFi-ac, Bluetooth 4.x LE, and NFC radios, as well as optional cellular and locational technologies. Connectivity options include various GNSS variants, including GPS/GLONASS, Galileo, Compass, and dead reckoning using gyro and/or wheel pulse info.


Up to 2x micro-SIM slots and internal and external antennas are available for WiFi, Bluetooth, and various cellular radios. There’s even a cutting edge option for an 802.11p Direct Short Range Communication (DSRC) radio to implement V2X vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-infrastructure links.

Technical details are limited except for informational provided about the optional, Linux-driven Laird LTE and LTE Advanced modules. The modules support both FDD and TDD networks, and ship with optional eMMC for FOTA updates.

The standard LTE module runs on an unnamed, 624MHz ARMv7 processor, and supports LTE Release 9 with CAT 4 for up to 150Mbps downlinks and 50Mbps up. It also supports WBCDMA Release 8 HSPA with CAT 24 Dual Carrier, among other protocols.

The LTE Advanced module runs on a 1GHz, Cortex-A7 Marvell PXA 1826 LTE chipset. The module supports LTE CAT 7 Release 10/11 links for up to 300Mbps down and 100Mbps up. It also supports WCDMA DC-HSPA+ Release 9 and other protocols.

OEMs can add to these features with a variety of Laird in-vehicle technologies. These include custom fitted antennas, compensers, USB hubs, and wireless charging units, as well as fleet management and diagnostic solutions. At MWC Americas today, Laird is demonstrating products including its new RG1xx series LoRaWAN/Wi-Fi/BTE Gateway and its 7mm thick, CFD Ultra Low Profile MIMO Low Passive Intermodulation (PIM) antenna.

Further information

Laird’s Open Platform appears to be available now to automotive OEMs. More information may be found in Laird’s Open Platform announcement and product page (PDF).

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