5G Automotive Gateway with Advanced Connectivity Options

Clevon is a design and manufacturing company focused on autonomous vehicles. Their main focus is autonomous robot carriers. The company started as a spin-off of the parent company, Cleveron, and picked up the challenging task of designing an autonomous vehicle from scratch. Among other very challenging engineering feats, the newly designed vehicle needed a powerful gateway capable of pushing vast amounts of diagnostic and video data for both the development of autonomous driving algorithms and seamless remote control of the car.

Project Requirements

Because the gateway design turned out to be a large enough project with well-defined boundaries, Clevon approached Conclusive Engineering asking to outsource the hardware design, Linux-based BSP, and low-level firmware components. The CLEVON 1 vehicle was selected as the target platform for the device.

The gateway was tasked to gather, aggregate and route data sourced from various external wired and wireless data sources:

  • 2x 5G – cellular data link
  • V2X – Vehicle to Everything: automotive vehicle to vehicle, vehicle to infrastructure, and vehicle to pedestrian communication protocol
  • Wi-Fi 6E
  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • GNSS – high precision localization data source
  • Ethernet:
    • 1000BASE-T and 10GBASE-T – 4x twisted pair
    • 1000BASE-T1 – automotive single twisted pair
    • 10GBASE-LR – 1310nm long-range optical fiber link
  • 2x CAN FD
  • 2x RS-232
  • USB 2.0 OTG

Besides the most obvious requirement of providing a redundant high-performance 5G data link to the vehicle’s interfaces, the requirements list included one more important role of the gateway device: emergency vehicle detection. Because of this requirement, one last data source was added to the list of input interfaces of the gateway: an array of 8 microphones.

The other design requirements related to environmental factors, storage, and power supply boiled down to:

  • AEC-Q100 Grade 2 compatibility (-40C – 105C ambient operating temperature range)
  • IP55 water and dust resistance
  • Enclosure compatible with the vehicle’s water cooling system
  • Support for redundant 8-20V DC power supply 
  • Internal SSD storage easily replaceable through a sealed port on the enclosure
  • Internal SIM card slots easily replaceable through a sealed port on the enclosure

Solution

CPU Selection

The NXP Layerscape family was selected as the main CPU of the system for its broad range of supported high-speed digital interfaces. The SoCs in this family are well known for their design focus on networking, line rate routing, and forwarding capabilities, high processing power, and support for various storage options. The real-time processing capabilities needed by the emergency vehicle detection algorithms were added to the design by including NXP i.MX RT1160 MCU. The USB link was selected as a data transport layer between the CPU and the MCU.