Ah, winter! How I love the skiing, the skating, and the snowshoeing. But oh, how I loathe the black ice, the biting cold, and the backbreaking hours of shoveling.
For some people, the second half of the above equation far outweighs the first. As a result, they set their sights on a luxury cruise to southern climes. Goodbye blizzards, hello wall-to-wall sunshine.
You might not know it, but when you board a cruise ship, there's a good chance that QNX technology is at the helm, controlling the ship's radar and navigation systems. Now, I know you're busy planning your vacation itinerary. But if you can, take a few minutes and check out this article published a few years back — it tells the story of how a pioneer of computer-controlled radar systems sails the high seas with QNX.
Ocean Liners Navigate With QNX
Water makes up more than 70 percent of the earth's surface and is used to transport nearly 90 percent of all goods. These goods and passengers could never reach their destination punctually and safely without navigation systems. The first computer-controlled radar system was developed in 1976 by a team of developers that today works for SAM Electronics in Hamburg/Germany. The company has more than 1,000 employees and offers a wide range of advanced navigation and communication systems for the civil navy. More than 70 percent of all cruise liners and about 30 percent of all container ships use SAM Electronics products. The QNX realtime operating system (RTOS) ensures smooth, reliable and fast operations.
Only an RTOS enables applications with extreme demands on timing: it prioritizes processes and prevents important, time-critical processes being slowed down. This slowing down occurs in a general-purpose OS when tasks that are less important are carried out before more critical operations. With an RTOS, the developer uses tools to define which tasks should prioritize.
Thanks to its microkernel, the QNX RTOS is highly robust and reliable, which is fundamental for mission-critical applications like nautical navigation systems: a system failure during bad weather on the high seas, with fog in the estuary or while landing, could have disastrous consequences.
QNX was also chosen because of its more than twenty years of development continuity and proven documentation. Its high scalability and clear structures were also vitally important for SAM Electronics. Furthermore, the QNX RTOS includes a wide range of extended operating system functions — besides additional file systems and networking capabilities, it also offers excellent graphical support.
Connectivity Facilitates Navigation
A look at the product range of SAM Electronics makes clear why the connectivity capabilities of QNX are so important: The Radar 1000 product series is based on a PC platform and on PCI boards both developed and manufactured by SAM Electronics. All radar systems are set up on this platform, which runs on the QNX RTOS. At the top of this series is NACOS, an integrated navigation system that combines different radar systems with varying ranges of services, for example the radar system, the electronic chart system, or the autopilot. All these components are connected by CAN bus and ethernet LAN and communicate over this network.
To increase security, each SAM Electronics device has its own independent processing unit. This means that any other device could assume the lead function should a device be defective or the officer on the watch requests it. In addition, the QNX Photon microGUI windowing system provides these devices with flexible control functionality. The user interface can be displayed on any other device exactly as it is on the host system. While the program is running on the host system, the user interface can be displayed not only on the host, but also on any other network device.
For software development, SAM Electronics uses the QNX Momentics development suite and benefits from the ease of use and the fast learnability of the QNX tools: New team members in the development team are trained by their colleagues and learn QNX on the job.
SAM Electronics and QNX Software Systems have been successfully working together since 1997.