In an automobile, a telematics system combines wireless communication with GPS and embedded computing to deliver up-to-date information and on-board entertainment to the driver. The telematics system's embedded processor controls the system functions, including the GPS, wheel sensors, and tachometer interface. Data from these components such as navigational information and wheel- and engine-speed information is displayed via the LCD graphics controller. This system provides the driver with current traffic conditions, driving maps and directions, and speed and fuel efficiency data. In addition, during an emergency, the system can provide rescue services with the exact location of the vehicle.
The entertainment unit provides access to the automobile's audio player/CD-ROM, where MP3 music files are stored. The system's navigational data, as used by the GPS system, can also be stored here. MP3 music files are sent to the automobile's audio system for playback via the audio interface.
Through a variety of bus connections, the interface unit provides the controller access to all of the automobile's entertainment and driver-information systems, such as the on-board computer. The USB or Ethernet (and/or Bluetooth) interface can be used for connecting portable devices such as laptops or personal digital assistants (PDAs) to the system for synchronizing data or uploading/downloading files. External multimedia devices such as portable DVD players can connect to the controller via the USB or FireWire interface. On-board CD/DVD players or other on-board multimedia devices are networked through media orientated system transport (MOST)/FireWire (IDB1394) interfaces. The vehicle's control area network (CAN), serial peripheral interface (SPI), inter-integrated circuit bus, and inter-integrated circuit sound bus interfaces manage non-critical vehicle body controls. Figure 1 shows a typical telematics/entertainment controller.
Figure 1. Telematics/Entertainment Controller
SPI = serial peripheral interface
I/C = inter-integrated circuit bus
12S = inter-integrated circuit sound bus
ATAPI = AT attachment packet interface
PWM = pulse width modulation
Altera's low-cost Cyclone series FPGAs are ideal for the interfacing applications found in telematics systems. Programmable logic allows you to customize the interfaces to suit many sources of data. It provides a complementary, flexible architecture working with the automotive-based ASSP devices. Most of the functionality of the telematics controller can be implemented within a Cyclone series FPGA. Using ready-to-use Altera intellectual property (IP) cores such as the 10/100 Ethernet media access controller (MAC), along with the PCI and CAN controllers, can significantly reduce development costs and the time-to-market for automotive applications. Additionally, Altera's 32-bit Nios II embedded RISC processor can be used to perform standard microcontroller functions in telematics applications.