A Closer Look at Freescale’s Center Stack Training Session

It’s been a while since Virginia Tech’s Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT) returned from Winter Workshop in Austin, but the team is still enthused about some of the seminars provided during the four-day workshop.

Alexander Keller, a junior on the controls subteam, was particularly fascinated by the Freescale Center Stack session, during which he was trained on how to use the automotive board. The automotive board will be used to develop graphics for the center stack where the radio and climate controls are located. QNX also participated in the session, presenting software solutions that could be used to implement rich user experience features for center stack designs

Freescale, which co-sponsored the workshop in Austin, is a Platinum-level sponsor of the competition and one of the leading manufacturers of microprocessors and semiconductors. As a sponsor of the competition, Freescale has graciously provided each team with a hardware platform featuring the required electronics to run a 10-inch touchscreen. Additionally, Freescale is providing all of the accompanying software, training and support EcoCAR 2 teams need to successfully integrate the technology.

During the training session at Freescale, Alexander had the opportunity to talk with mentors about control area network (CAN) messaging, which is the protocol to communicate between the devices on the car, such as the engine control module, air conditioning and radio. “We learned about how to use the CAN drivers that Freescale provided and how to configure the CAN bus,” said Alexander.

Another component of the session included training on how to design the graphical user interface (GUI) using Qt. Qt is an open source program designed by Nokia to easily program the GUI. The CAN bus protocols can be integrated into Qt allowing the programmer to display events on the CAN bus on the GUI.

What does HEVT plan to do with the automotive board? Alexander, along with the help of other HEVT members, is working on programing the development board to integrate the air conditioner and radio. The development board also allows for more creative and complex functions, such as a GPS or Bluetooth. “Although HEVT isn’t currently working on these advanced functions, it’s something we’re certainly open to down the road,” said Alexander.

Thanks to Freescale for donating the technology! HEVT is excited to integrate it with its 2013 Chevy Malibu.