NXP's S32K344 Evaluation Board Packs Six Independent CAN Buses for Mobile Robotic Experimentation

Featuring three flavors of CAN bus, including a secure option, this board looks to put a wealth of connectivity at your fingertips.

NXP Semiconductors has announced the launch of the MR-CANHUBK344 S32K344 Evaluation Board for a beastly chipset it's hoping will find a home in mobile robotics projects from transatlantic drones to autonomous mobile robots — and with no fewer than six Controller Area Network (CAN) ports, including two CAN-SCP secure variants.

"MR-CANHUBK344 is an evaluation board for mobile robotics applications such as autonomous mobile robots (AMR) and automated guided vehicles (AGV)," NXP says of its chip and development board design. "[It is] based on the Arm Cortex-M7 S32K3 general-purpose automotive microcontroller (MCU), featuring advanced safety, security and software support."

The biggest feature of the board is undoubtedly its six independent CAN bus ports, split into three variants. The first pair offers a fairly standard automotive-style CAN-FD bus with flexible data rate, based on the TJDA144x transceiver family. The second pair uses the TJA1463 transceiver which offers CAN-SI "Signal Improvement Capability," designed to actively improve the CAN signal for operation over longer distances, in the face of higher environmental noise, or at higher speeds.

The final CAN bus connector pair uses a TJA1153 transceiver to offer a CAN-SCP secure bus, designed to detect and contain a selection of attacks or fault conditions including the transmission of a CAN message with an unassigned identifier, reception of a CAN message from a remote node reusing an identifier assigned to a local node, tampered messages, or a local node flooding the bus — an attack which is already used in the wild to steal cars through easily-accessible CAN bus wiring.

While a single project is unlikely to need six independent CAN buses, NXP's evaluation board is designed to make it easier to experiment with each of the bus types to find the one that fits best for a given scenario. For those who need long-range communications, meanwhile, the board includes a 100BASE-T1 Ethernet PHY with CAN bridging support. Elsewhere on the board is NXP's S32K3 microcontroller, which includes an Arm Cortex-M7 microcontroller, and the company's SE050 "Plug and Trust" secure element — along with a small OLED display, for local feedback.

Officially, the evaluation board is still in the pre-production stage and doesn't launch until the end of the month — but at the time of writing NXP's site had a small number in stock for immediate shipping, priced at $179. The same page also offers full schematics, along with an introductory webinar for those interested in learning more.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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