Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Blackberry QNX controls UK vehicle-to-grid network

Steve Rogerson
July 28, 2020

The QNX real-time operating system from Canadian firm Blackberry is helping the UK government implement vehicle-to-grid functionality in an electric vehicle charging network.
Part of the UK government-backed Vigil programme, the OCPP 2.0 compliant charge controller allows the charge-post to manage electric vehicle and building energy dispatch, and ensures distribution network limits are not exceeded.
The system uses technology from Direct Insight, a UK-based technical systems integrator and reseller of system-on-module (SoM) and other embedded systems. Based on NXP i.MX6 hardware, and designed by electronic design consultancy ByteSnap Design, the controller, named Ray, reduces latency and improves robustness by allowing direct control via the building management system.
“Early EVSE infrastructure has struggled with perceptions of poor reliability,” said Dunstan Power, ByteSnap director. “Making this advanced controller available based on QNX means that customers can rely on the performance of the charge posts year-in, year-out.”
During the Vigil project, it was integrated into three V2G units at Aston University, and is already being used by commercial customers.
The QNX Neutrino RTOS, supplied by Direct Insight, is a microkernel-based full-featured and robust OS that scales down to meet the constrained resource requirements of real-time embedded systems. Its modular architecture enables users to create optimised and reliable systems with low total cost of ownership.
QNX is often used as a commercially supported and licensed alternative to Linux in Arm-based embedded systems that are mission-critical, including those that require safety certification, particularly in automotive, medical or industrial fields.
UK firm ByteSnap Design specialises in embedded systems development, encompassing hardware and software design. The consultancy’s technical portfolio includes electronic circuit design, Linux and embedded software development, designing hardware products from wireless sensors to rugged tablets.
“ByteSnap is without doubt at the leading edge of embedded design and development, and is known for creating a quality product,” said David Pashley, Direct Insight’s managing director. “Therefore, its choice endorses QNX’s credentials in mission-critical applications.”
Founded in 1992, Direct Insight has helped hundreds of development teams upgrade to the latest SoC, FPGA and OS technology by choosing off-the-shelf hardware, software and tools, providing the required support and services to fill the gaps, and allowing customer development teams to focus on their differentiating core skills. Key partners include QNX, German embedded module designer Ka-Ro Electronics, and Taiwanese single board computer maker DFI.