Half a year. That’s all it took for STMicroelectronics, Dassault Systèmes, Orange, Renault Group, and Thales to create, design, and build a concept car that changes our entire relationship with vehicles. Under the name ‘Software République’, the teams worked together to make the first human-centred car real. Unveiled at VivaTech in June 2023, the car called ‘Human 1st Vision’ is packed with no less than 20 innovations. They can inspire designers working for all kinds of industries. Let’s explore ST’s main contributions.
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Intuitive and secure biometric car access
Looking for your car key fob is likely to become a distant memory. Facial recognition and gait recognition are changing the game. The concept-car can recognize the car owner’s postures—within six meters. The system leverages a myriad of data from ST’s VD/VB1940, an image sensor with a high dynamic range designed to manage both RGB and NIR operations. As soon as you’ve been authenticated as the owner of your car, an avatar greets you and gently asks if you would like to open the door. All you have to say is ‘yes’. ST’s MP23DB01HP, an ultra-compact, low-power digital MEMS microphone captures your voice.
Spatial audio for immersive experiences
Have you ever heard of a personal sound space? If you haven’t, make sure to read this. If any of that sounds familiar, let’s explore what can be done with 16 loudspeakers, including a pair of tweeters in the driver’s headrest and a microphone—among other strategic components and software. Spatialized audio not only creates breathtaking soundscapes but also increases safety. The Software République teams developed three high-end use cases for mid-range cars. They are all based on ST’s automotive audio amplifiers. The team also tapped into Arkamys’ expertise (a long-term partner of ST) in automotive audio software.
Smart audio system (use case #1)
‘Human 1st Vision’ can create smart semi-private bubbles thanks to voice recognition. If you plan on visiting our booth at IAA Mobility 2023, you’ll be amazed by the ease with which you can take an incoming call. As soon as you say, ‘I’ll take it’, the audio is routed to your headrest’s speakers. This means that other passengers can’t hear the person on the other end of your phone call. Again, ST’s digital MEMS microphone captures your voice.
Spatial sound notification (use case #2)
Spatial sound notifications are commonly used in virtual environments, such as gaming. The trend extends to the car industry too. Headrests integrate two loudspeakers. In this use case, an emergency vehicle approaching from behind in the left lane automatically triggers an alert in the driver´s left ear. All built-in tweeters leverage ST’s TDA7901 (class AB) amplifiers. Multiple similar use cases can be developed to enhance safety.
Takes your music listening experience to the next level (use case #3)
The teams worked together with Jean-Michel Jarre –an early pioneer of electronic music– and his team of sound engineers to create a rich, immersive, and engaging spatial reproduction. Door, center, and subwoofer speakers are driven from ST’s HFDA801A (class D) amplifier ICs. Because of their low distortion rates—0.02% at 1 W 1 kHz—they offer a more natural sound and deliver a faithful reproduction of the original sound (e.g. voice or music).
Connecting safety, health & wellbeing
Human 1st Vision brings another major innovation to the car industry: the capacity to accurately monitor the driver’s health in real time and ensure safety everywhere.
Onboard health monitoring system (use case #1)
Monitoring the driver’s health status in real time, including vital health parameters, might soon become a standard feature. Built into the steering wheel and the seatbelt, sensors can track the driver’s heart rate and breathing rate. Results are displayed on the car’s dashboard screen.
As with any wearable device, the system had to be low-power. And because accuracy and compactness were also key, Software République opted for ST’s tiny LSM6DSV16BX 6-axis motion sensor with Edge AI and QvarTM to measure both the heart’s electrical and mechanical activity (ECG & SCG). Combined with the ultralow power TSU114 operational amplifier, and the tiny STM32WB5MMG module, the solution offers the right balance between performance and energy consumption.
Safety everywhere (use case #2)
Dead zones are still a challenge. If your cellphone has no signal, Human 1st Vision can trigger an emergency call via satellite no matter where you are. For example, in case of a heart attack—remember, that the steering wheel continuously monitors your heartbeat. In case of an accident, a vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) solution alert other drivers in real-time. A smart flashing beacon can also be placed on the car’s roof to send automatically the vehicle’s position to the road traffic supervision centre over the cellular network, using the ultralow-power ST87M01, a narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) module with GNSS location capabilities. STSAFE family ensures reliable and secure connectivity.
Energy efficiency and demand management: Two sides of the same coin
EV owners often only use a small portion of their batteries on a daily basis. As more EVs are deployed, it’s important to cover peak electrical demand. Human 1st Vision comes with a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology based on a bidirectional charger. The concept car can send power back to the grid when needed. Just to give one example, 50,000 vehicles equipped with a bidirectional converter could replace a small power station during peak demand periods. An STPM32 measures the amount of energy used or sent to the grid.
A unique collaboration
In this blog article, we’ve explored ST’s main contributions and products. Human 1st Vision is the result of collaborative work at both hardware and software levels that brought together multiple partners. Experts from various technical fields across the entire value chain used their boundless imaginations to incorporate innovative technologies that create a unique human-centred experience. Plenty of other use cases have been developed and many other strategic products have been used.
Software République founding members: Atos, Dassault Systèmes, Orange, Renault Group, STMicroelectronics and Thales
Additional partners (concept-car): Arkamys, Compredict, Epicnpoc, Eyelights, JCDecaux, Kardome and Stern Tech.
Designed by Software République, this two-way wall charger, called “Mobilize Powerbox®”, embeds key ST devices. The charger processes data at the edge using ST’s STM32MP1, an MPU packed with security features. Integrated into this two-way charger, the ST2100, a broadband powerline communication component widely used in smart grid applications, sends data over electrical power lines using the ISO 15118 communication standard between EVs and charging stations. Last but not least, because this level of connectivity makes two-way chargers vulnerable to cyberattacks, two ST33K secure elements have been used to secure both wireless and wired communications.
Another key technology that deserves your attention is Silicon Carbide or SiC. The concept car is powered by ST’s new-gen SiC technology. SiC components help maximize EVs’ driving range, extend their battery lifetime, and reduce their charging time. In short, make EVs a buyer’s first choice and accelerate the decarbonization agenda with sustainable options.