NXP and VW show off concept car with UWB for security and safety

NXP and VW showed off a concept car with UWB that allows a driver to use gestures to access the doors or the trunk. The first VW models with UWB will appear later this year. (NXP)

NXP Semiconductors and Volkswagen showed off Ultra-Wideband (UWB) in a VW concept car on Aug. 27. The first VW models will use the technology later this year.

UWB can be used for better security and safety in vehicles because of its level of accuracy in delivering precise outdoor and indoor localization. With that ability, UWB can combat relay theft, which is a problem with keyless entry in some modern cars.

The companies said UWB can also enable automated trailer hitch activation, in-cabin passenger detection (useful for reminders of children in rear seats) and hands-free parking, among other features. The VW concept car demonstrated walking pattern recognition for car access and the opening of the trunk. The VW UWB car key uses high-precision sensing technology and AI to learn personalized user gestures to open the car and trunk.

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The companies described UWB as a “clear enhancement” to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS in its ability to process contextual information such as the position of the UWB anchor and its movements and distance to other devices with “unprecedented precision of a few centimeters in real-time.”

UWB has the potential to replace the key ring for a person’s home, office or car, said Lars Reger, CTO of NXP, in a statement. With UWB, if a person’s UWB key is indoors in a building, but a thief is outside trying to use a relay device to bridge the signal between the key and the car to break in, the thief won’t be able to do so. That’s because UWB measures “time of flight” for a precise location of the key, meaning the car would recognize that the key is not nearby and would not open to the thief.

Maik Rohde, VW’s head of electronics and car access, said the first UWB application for theft protection will appear in VW car models this year.

NXP has promoted a wide range of UWB applications beyond mobility, including for smart enterprises and smart retail.

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