This week, at SAE Convergence, QNX is showcasing its brand new concept car, a digitally pimped-out Chevrolet Corvette. The car is equipped with a head unit that talks to smart phones (more on that in a subsequent post) and a digital instrument cluster that can reconfigure itself on the fly.
This dynamic reconfigurability is a dramatic departure from traditional analog clusters, so let’s start with that. For example, here is the cluster in “straight up” mode, showing both the speedometer and the tachometer:
Click to magnify.
Now here is the same display, but with a speedometer and a navigation app:
And here it is again, with a speedometer and a weather widget:
It’s easy to see how this dynamic configurability could simplify driving in the real world: Put the car in drive, for example, and you see a navigation display; put it in reverse, and you see a backup camera. Very cool.
Speaking of the real world, I know of at least two companies using QNX-based digital clusters in actual vehicles. The first is Land Rover, which uses a QNX-based cluster in its 2010 Range Rover. The other is the MTA Group, an international auto supplier that builds technology for some exceedingly cool supercars.
According to an article published in the MTA Journal, MTA chose the QNX Neutrino RTOS for their digital clusters because of “its extremely fast startup times, high-speed functionalities and support for graphics display controllers…”
To build the cluster showcased in the Corvette, the engineers at QNX took advantage of QNX CAR Application Platform, which includes, among other things, a reference implementation for building digital clusters. To find out more about QNX CAR, click here.
Technical deep dive
BTW, if your job is create a digital instrument cluster, check out the technical article discussed in this blog post.