Stella Lux, the solar powered family car build by students from the Eindhoven University of Technology is currently leading the World Solar Challenge in Australia. But what’s the technology powering this innovative machine and what can we expect to see in our own cars in the near future?
NXP is a key technology supplier for Solar Team Eindhoven and has provided a wide range of microcontrollers that enable many of Stella Lux’s features. NXP technology supports Stella Lux’s steering, Heads up Display, solar power system, window and throttle/brake functions amongst others.
Let’s take an in-depth look at two of the most exciting technologies featured in Stella Lux that could be in our own cars soon.
V2X communications technology
Stella Lux is fitted with NXP Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology. This allows it to communicate with the support car following behind, sending important data about the status of the vehicle, battery level, operating temperature etc. This means that the team can combine this data with other sources like weather data to develop predictive models in real time, enabling them to change their strategy as they go.
In the future all cars will feature V2X communications technology. Initially it will be used to communicate with other cars on the road as well as infrastructure like traffic lights and road signs. This will enable drivers to be more aware of their surroundings and be warned of upcoming hazards. This same technology will also form the building blocks of autonomous driving. Instead of sending warnings to the driver, the car will receive these signals and autonomously take action, driving itself and leaving us free to do other tasks.
The advent of autonomous driving will lead to safer, greener more efficient journeys for everyone.
RFID license plates
The electric vehicle currently racing across Australia also features an NXP enabled RFID license plate. This plate can be read by special readers that can tell instantly if it is genuine or not. While this has limited applications in the outback it can be very useful in more urban environments.
There are currently over 40,000 illegal license plates in The Netherlands but this is problem for every country in the world. While counterfeiting a license plate in itself might not be considered a serious crime it hampers police’s ability to track down serious criminals using stolen vehicles.
If cars are fitted with an RFID enabled license plate then this could lead to a dramatic reduction in stolen cars and overall crime. Readers can be installed on roadsides and carried by police which will detect the plate at speed and immediately alert if the plate is not genuine. The chip does not require a battery to operate so they have a very long lifetime.
Privacy is a big concern when it comes to tracking people’s cars so it will be vital that not just any RFID reader can communicate with the license plates. NXP has designed the technology so that only authorised readers can be used, ensuring the privacy and security of road users.
Field trials are currently taking place so we could see this on the roads in as little as two years.