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Rugged vehicle computing platforms

– design considerations
By Benson Chiu, ADLINK

Vehicle computing platforms

are systems for mobile
applications in the harsh
environments of the traffic
and transportation sectors. Figure 1. Based on an Ampro
The ideal platform should be by Adlink ReadyBoard EPIC
specifically designed to form factor SBC, the airport
meet these requirements and shuttle bus information system
not just be a ruggedized can drive two displays: one
office-based system. digital video output with HD
video decoder for an in-vehicle
digital signage application,
and an analog output for
driver navigation and dispatch

n The trend in vehicle computing platforms cific video requirements. Digital signage is a and the most unpredictable. The key areas for
for end users has moved from office-based PC booming application in retail, education, hos- consideration are as follows: broadband radi-
platforms to rugged industrial PC (IPC) prod- pitality and transportation. In-vehicle digital ated emissions, narrowband radiated emissions,
ucts. IPC adoption is projected to increase at signage is increasingly in demand. With mod- conducted transient emissions, conducted tran-
an above average rate in the traffic and trans- ern video technology, high definition video sient immunity, radiated immunity, and ESD.
portation sectors. A significant driving factor content is becoming the default standard in Conducted transient emissions and immunity
of this growth is the increasing popularity of digital signage applications. However, main- are well known as critical phenomena to power
panel and box computer use on trains, buses, stream embedded platforms generally do not in the automotive environment. Control of
and at rapid transit terminals. In-vehicle digital have sufficient performance for HD video conducted transients in a vehicle is not covered
signage and customer information displays playback as their primary focus is low power by legislation in the same way as transients in-
are the most popular applications in these en- consumption applications. Therefore, a vehicle ternal to systems in other environments. The
vironments. The increasing availability and re- computing platform will also require a high ISO-7637 standard covers tests for conducted
liability of the vehicle computing platform is a definition video decoder to support video transients, as well as tests for transients induc-
significant source of stimulation to the growth playback at resolutions from QCIF to Full HD. tively and capacitively coupled into adjacent
in rugged IPC deployment in the traffic and wires from the vehicle battery. Both 12V and
transportation sectors. Rugged IPCs are well An often asked question is - how rugged is 24V systems are covered by the standard. In
suited to harsh environments and are therefore rugged? The balance of cost and performance order to meet ISO-7637, a power design for
well suited to the in-vehicle environment. is always a dilemma to manufacturers. A true real automotive environment is required, not
vehicle computing platform should be rugged just a wide range of power input. In a vehicle
So what are the requirements of a vehicle by design and not just ruggedized. In order to computing platform, the power unit should
computing platform for the traffic and trans- support the extremes of shock, vibration, hu- have reverse battery protection, surge and over-
portation sectors? Vibration and shock are midity and temperature, care must be given to voltage protection, and a DC/DC converter.
commonplace, as are additional demands such component selection, circuit design, PCB layout
as extended temperature operation, conformal and materials, thermal solution, enclosure de- Furthermore, the automotive power design
coating support and automotive power design. sign, and manufacturing processes. Robust must have the ability to run on a wide range
Also required are system enclosures designed test methodologies including highly accelerated of vehicle power inputs, and ensure the plat-
to meet IP Codes (International Protection life testing (HALT) help to ensure that the form can operate during load dump or cold
Rating) with the degree of protection against platform is optimized while still in the design crank situations. Use of a high efficiency buck-
the intrusion of particulates and water that is phase and meets MIL-STD shock and vibration, boost controller in the automotive power unit
necessary for the specific application. In addi- the ISO-7637 automotive EMC standard, and is recommended to provide the platform with
tion to the ruggedness provided by an IPC, ve- other reliability requirements. The automotive the required voltage supplies to the vehicle
hicle computing platforms may also have spe- EMC environment is one of the most severe computing platform. Another factor to be

February 2010 24
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Hardware & software for
CAN bus applications…

Meet us in
hall 12, booth 512

Figure 2. In a vehicle computing platform, the power unit should have reverse battery protection,
surge and over-voltage protection, and a DC/DC converter.
CAN/LIN interface


High-speed USB 2.0 interface with

galvanic isolation for connecting
up to 2 CAN and 2 LIN busses.


CAN interface for Mini PCI slots.

Optionally with galvanic isolation.
Available as Single channel or Dual
channel version.
Figure 3. Ampro by Adlink Extreme Rugged products screening profile

aware of is that in the near future, 42V systems and IPC-CC-830 standards. Temperatures in
could replace current 12V and 24V automotive automotive environments can change drasti-
systems. As more electronic devices are installed cally, rising as much as 20°C ~ 30°C within 15
in vehicles, 42V systems can provide more minutes with exposure to direct sunlight. Upper
than twice the power efficiency of 12V/24V extremes of 50°C inside a car are not uncom-
systems. This should be considered for future mon. The ideal vehicle computing platform is
vehicle computing platform development. specifically designed to withstand high tem-
perature and rapid temperature changes. It is
Conformal coating is a method of providing also critical for vehicle computing platforms
protection against moisture, contaminants, to undergo thorough temperature testing to
dust, abrasion, corrosion and short circuits, ensure reliable operation under these temper-
and is especially effective for in-vehicle envi- ature conditions. An example of the screening
ronments. Conformal coatings also can protect profile from such a test is shown below. PCAN-Explorer 5
circuits and components from solvents, and
maintain the insulation resistance of the circuit An example of a typical vehicle computing Universal CAN monitor,
board. The selection of coating material is an platform application is in an airport shuttle symbolic representation, VBS
important consideration. Preferred coating bus information system for use by an interna- interface, integrated data logger,
materials are fast drying and easy to repair, tional airline running a city-to-airport transit functionality upgrades with add-
have high moisture resistance and superior di- bus service. To implement this system, a rugged ins (e.g. Instruments Panel Add-in).
electric properties, and contain a UV safety vehicle computing platform with shock and
tracer for ease of inspection under a blacklight. vibration-resistant design, flexible expansion
Conformal coating are generally applied in interfaces for communications, low power con-
thin layers (typically 1~3 mils) onto the PCB sumption, HD video decoder, and automotive
assembly and in accordance with MIL-I-46058 power design is required. Based on an Ampro
Otto-Roehm-Str. 69
64293 Darmstadt / Germany
Phone: +49 6151 8173-20
25 February 2010 Fax: +49 6151 8173-29
100010_ICC01_BAS01_FebUm_Heft 28.01.10 14:25 Seite 26


from conducted transient emissions in the au-

tomotive environment. The security of public
transportation systems has become an increas-
ing concern in recent years. City buses, railways,
subways and other transit systems are imple-
menting intelligent platforms to monitor public
areas and ensure riders safety. Stationary CCTV
systems can handle the requirements at stations,
but rail carriages are still blind spots. A rugged
vehicle computing platform plus intelligent IP
cameras is required to extend the range of the
security system to the entire transit system. A
mass transit rail carriage needs a rugged system
to fit into limited space that is able to withstand
the dust, shock, and vibration encountered in
the operating environment.

Such a platform could be based on an Ampro

Figure 4. A system for a mass transit rail carriage could be based on an Ampro by Adlink by Adlink RuffSystem, which meets MIL-STD-
RuffSystem, which meets MIL-STD-810 shock and vibration standards and has IP50 rating. 810 shock and vibration standards and has
IP50 rating. Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports can
by Adlink ReadyBoard EPIC form factor SBC, telecommunication module to receive real-time interface with IP cameras and operate with in-
the airport shuttle bus information system information, such as flight arrival and departure telligent surveillance software combined with
can drive two displays: one digital video output information, news, and advertising content for built-in GPIO or digital I/O functionality to
with HD video decoder for an in-vehicle digital the signage display. Other expansion options automatically detect potential threats, or objects
signage application, and an analog output for include a digital I/O module, GPS, or video on the tracks to aid emergency management
driver navigation and dispatch information. A grabber module. Automotive power design al- and response. This intelligent system could
flexible expansion interface, such as mini-PCIe lows reliable operation of the airport shuttle also be used to increase operational efficiency
or PCI-104, supports a WiFi/WiMAX/3G bus information system and avoids damage and performance. n

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