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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

ONR developing offensive autonomous swarming capability for unmanned surface vehicles; adapting JPL’s CARACaS

October 05, 2014

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is developing an autonomous offensive swarming capability for unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) not only to protect Navy ships, but also, for the first time, to attack hostile vessels.

The technology under development—based on the Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing (CARACaS) developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)—can be put into a transportable kit and installed on almost any boat. It allows boats to operate autonomously, without a Sailor physically needing to be at the controls. Capabilities include operating in sync with other unmanned vessels; choosing their own routes; swarming to interdict enemy vessels; and escorting/protecting naval assets.

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BMW using ams data acquisition IC for battery management system in i3

September 18, 2014

BMW is using the AS8510, an integrated automotive data acquisition front-end integrated circuit (IC) from ams AG, a leading provider of high performance analog ICs and sensors, to provide extremely accurate battery voltage and current measurements in its i3 electric vehicles (EVs).

The BMW i3 model in volume production today includes an AS8510 in the battery sensor. The battery management system (BMS) monitors battery voltage and battery current of the 400V li-ion battery powering the cars’ electric motors, and ensures the functional safety of the vehicle’s battery systems.

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Siemens equipping EV with new information and communications technology concept developed by RACE project

September 17, 2014

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Prof. Armin Schnettler from Siemens’ central research department and Prof. Achim Kampker, Managing Director of StreetScooter, agreed to equip a StreetScooter EV with an innovative electronic and software architecture by end of 2014. Click to enlarge.

Siemens will equipping an electric car with a completely redesigned information and communications technology (ICT). Basically, the idea is to control a variety of vehicle functions on a uniform, centralized computer platform instead of providing every system with its own hardware and software as today.

The new ICT concept was developed by Siemens’ global Corporate Technology (CT) department and its partners in the German government-funded RACE (Robust and Reliant Automotive Computing Environment for Future eCars) project. (Earlier post.)

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Freescale introduces new Li-ion battery cell controller for 48V systems

September 16, 2014

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Freescale MC 33771 controller addresses the needs of 48V Li-ion battery packs. Click to enlarge.

Some automakers such as Audi (earlier post) are turning to 48V electrical systems as a technical building block for facilitating the integration of new automotive technologies while increasing the power and efficiency of its cars. Freescale Semiconductor has now introduced a highly integrated 14-cell lithium-ion battery cell controller for industrial and automotive applications that cost-effectively addresses the requirements of 48 V Li-ion battery systems.

With fourteen cell balancing transistors, a current sensor with ±0.5% accuracy from milliamps to kiloamps, and 2 Mbps communication transceiver interface integrated into a single 64-pin QFP package, Freescale’s MC33771 battery cell controller and companion MC33664 isolated communications interface deliver robust, reliable performance for 48 V battery systems, and enable economical scalability beyond 1000 volts.

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Scaleo chip and IFP Energies nouvelles unveil OLEA microcontrollers in a plug-in hybrid car

June 18, 2014

Scaleo chip, a fabless semiconductor company specializing in automotive electronics, and IFP Energies nouvelles (IFPEN) announced the “FlexHybrid powered by OLEA”, the first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) driven by OLEA microcontrollers. (Earlier post.) The OLEA family of multicore powertrain microcontrollers implements AMEC (Advanced Motor Events Control) hardware for real-time engine control and events processing and the ISO 26262 ASIL-D SILant (Safety Integrity LeveL agent) functional safety architecture.

Scaleo chip, IFPEN, Continental and CEA partnered within the NextSTEP program (Next Solution for Thermal and Electrified Powertrain), to demonstrate the ability of Scaleo chip’s OLEA microcontroller’s to control the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle FlexHybrid. This program was also actively supported by Bpifrance, the French public investment bank.

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IHS: Renesas maintains dominance in $26.7B automotive semiconductor market

April 18, 2014

Renesas remained the leader in the automotive semiconductor market in 2013, with the company’s dominance in microcomponents and logic integrated circuits (IC) helping it to hold a half-billion-dollar gap over the second-place competitor, according to analysis by IHS Technology. Japan-based Renesas posted automotive semiconductor revenue of $2.9 billion last year, giving the company a market share of 11%. This compares to $2.4 billion in revenue and 9% share for the Nº 2 contender, Infineon of Germany, allowing Renesas to maintain the leading position it held in 2012.

Although the IHS ranking shows Renesas experienced a 14% decline in revenue for the year, the drop was entirely driven by a fluctuation in the exchange rate between the Japanese yen and the US dollar. When measured in terms of its native yen, Renesas’ automotive semiconductor revenue actually rose by about 5% in 2013 compared to 2012, according to IHS. The overall automotive semiconductor market expanded by 5% in 2013, according to IHS. Market revenue last year rose to $26.7 billion in 2013, up from $25.4 billion in 2012.

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Mercedes-Benz’ anticipatory energy management system for hybrids

April 17, 2014

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The Intelligent HYBRID operating strategy manages the state of charge of the battery to exploit the potential for energy recuperation. Click to enlarge.

Mercedes-Benz has developed an intelligent energy management system for hybrid vehicles that assesses the road ahead and takes it into account. The objectives of the “Intelligent HYBRID” system are to maximize the benefit of recuperation energy and to provide driving pleasure through the boost effect of the electric motor. (Earlier post.)

The Intelligent HYBRID operating strategy, which Mercedes-Benz has employed in the S-Class since summer 2013 and now also uses in the new C-Class, ensures that the high-voltage battery is always charged only enough to take advantage of all opportunities for recuperation provided by the route and the terrain.

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Survey of power management control technologies for HEVs and PHEVs suggests future need to consider vehicle as part of larger system

April 11, 2014

A comprehensive survey of major power management control algorithms for hybrid-electric (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) proposes that future work will need to consider the vehicle as part of a larger system which can be optimized at an even larger scale.

This type of large-scale optimization will require the acquisition and processing of additional information from the driver and conditions outside the vehicle itself, suggests Dr. Andreas Malikopoulos, Deputy Director of the Urban Dynamics Institute and an Alvin M. Weinberg Fellow in the Energy and Transportation Science Division with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

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Volvo Car Group tests road-embedded magnets for accurate positioning of self-driving cars

March 11, 2014

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Volvo Car Group has completed a research project using magnets in the roadway to help the car determine its position. A pattern of round ferrite magnets (40x15 mm) was located 200 mm below the road surface. The test car was equipped with several magnetic field sensors. Click to enlarge.

Volvo Car Group has completed a research project using magnets embedded in the roadway to help the car determine its position. The research, which has been financed in strategic co-operation with the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket), is a potential means of implementing self-driving vehicles.

Reliable and highly accurate positioning is one of the crucial issues in the development of self-driving cars. While established positioning technologies such as GPS and cameras have limitations in certain conditions, road-integrated magnets remain unaffected by physical obstacles and poor weather conditions. Accordingly, the use of road magnets has attracted some academic research, as well as a number of patents filed on different approaches.

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Volkswagen Group’s new Future Tracks program targeting digitalization era in auto industry; “James 2025”

March 10, 2014

At the Geneva Motor Show and now at the IT trade fair CeBIT in Hanover, Germany, Volkswagen Group executive management has begun to outline its “Future Tracks” program which will address, among other things, what Chairman of the Board of Management Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn calls an approaching new era of digitalization.

In an address at the opening ceremony of CeBIT 2014 in Hanover in the presence of Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, the British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Minister-President of Lower Saxony Stephan Weil and Prof. Dieter Kempf, President of BITKOM, the IT industry Association, Winterkorn declared that the increasingly intensive networking of cars with their surroundings and automatic driving would be the key topics for the intelligent mobility of the future.

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Zytek lightweight electric powertrain for Yamaha’s MOTIV.e city car concept

February 21, 2014

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Zytek’s lightweight 25kW powertrain drives the Yamaha MOTIV.e through a Vocis single ratio transmission. A further development of the electric machine will deliver more power and torque from the same compact package. Click to enlarge.

Yamaha’s new MOTIV.e city car concept, shown at the Tokyo motorshow, is powered by an electric drive system from Zytek that employs a range of new design approaches to minimize the cost, weight and size of the powertrain while maximizing the performance and range. By supplying a number of core high-voltage components as an optimized system, Zytek is also minimizing the time required for vehicle development.

MOTIV.e comes from the partnership between Yamaha and Gordon Murray Design, using Murray’s iStream manufacturing technology; Murray has partnered in the past with Zytek on the T.27 City Car—the technology basis for the MOTIV.e. (Earlier post). Zytek Automotive, a specialist EV/HEV/fuel cell engineering consultancy, is a subsidiary of Continental, the global powertrain, chassis and interior products supplier.

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Mitsubishi Electric develops ultra-simple and fast HMI for in-car device operation

February 10, 2014

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has developed an “Ultra-simple HMI” (human-machine interface) that predicts a car driver’s needs for the safe and easy operation of vehicle equipment in one or two steps and no more than 15 seconds. Mitsubishi electric has filed for 25 patents on the technology in Japan and 42 abroad; pending design patent applications number five in Japan.

Mitsubishi Electric’s highly intelligent human-machine interface (HMI) technology bases its predictions on operational history and current conditions to minimize the steps and time required to operate the vehicle’s four primary on-board devices: navigation system, phone, air conditioner and audio-visual equipment.

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CAR report quantifies automotive’s position as a leading high-tech industry

January 08, 2014

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Percentage of Global R&D Spending by Industry, 2013. Source: Booz & Company “Global Innovation”; Battelle R&D Magazine; Center for Automotive Research 2012. Click to enlarge.

A newly-released report by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) concludes that the automotive industry is not only “high-tech,” it is frequently a leader in technological developments and applications. The report, supported by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, measures the technological nature of today’s auto industry and compares it to other sectors of the economy often viewed as technologically advanced.

The report authors acknowledge the difficulty of defining “high-tech” in an ever-changing economic environment. After reviewing of the works of several researchers and government agencies, CAR developed a working definition to differentiate high-tech industries from other sectors. Broadly, high-tech industries generally have the following characteristics:

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Audi and TTTech present prototype advanced ECU for piloted driving at CES; computing capacity superior to entire current A4

January 07, 2014

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Audi AG’s Ulrich Hackenberg (Member of the Board for Technical Development) holds the prototype zFAS at CES. Click to enlarge.

At the CES in Las Vegas, Audi and its technology partner TTTech Computertechnik AG presented a prototype of the zFAS platform ECU for piloted driving. TTTEch is a leading provider of reliable network solutions based on time-triggered technology and modular safety platforms. (Earlier post.)

The highly integrated platform ECU zFAS is based on a complex multicore network, hosting sophisticated sensor fusion and a variety of innovative functions with multiple safety criticality levels for applications such as piloted parking or driving.

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BMW previews future driver assistance and connected vehicle developments at CES, including more automated driving

BMW selected the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014 in Las Vegas as a venue at which to preview future developments and new applications of connected vehicle technology for series-produced vehicles.

Among these are a prototype for highly automated driving; vehicle functions on an electronic wristwatch (Samsung) as part of a research application; camera-based assistance systems bringing enhanced safety into new vehicle classes; and a new Parking Assistant with longitudinal and lateral guidance.

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NVIDIA unveils Tegra K1 192-core mobile processor; ADAS applications on the way to autonomous driving

January 06, 2014

At CES in Las Vegas, NVIDIA unveiled the Tegra K1 mobile processor, a 192-core chip featuring the same NVIDIA Kepler architecture that powers the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti GPU. Among its targeted applications—notably mobile gaming—are a variety of automotive applications.

Tegra K1 will drive camera-based, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and street sign recognition, and can also monitor driver alertness via a dashboard-mounted camera.

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NASA Glenn develops automated flywheel pulse-and-glide system; improving fuel economy up to 40-100%

December 27, 2013

Innovators at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed an automated pulse-and-glide technique using a flywheel energy storage system for on-road vehicles; the technology, which NASA Glenn says can improve fuel economy over existing internal combustion or battery hybrid systems by 40-100%, is available for licensing.

Drivers can use a manual “pulse-and-glide” (PnG) driving technique—accelerating and decelerating an automobile in cycles of approximately 10-30 seconds—as a way to improve fuel economy. A 2009 SAE paper by a team from Virginia Tech and Argonne National Laboratory found that a simulated PnG driving strategy in a Ford Focus delivered 33-77% fuel economy improvement depending on different speed ranges and acceleration times. The fuel economy results of a 2004 Toyota Prius from simulation and testing showed 24-90% fuel economy improvement with PnG drive cycles compared to steady speed results.

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NASA, Boeing finish tests of 757 vertical tail with active flow control technology

November 15, 2013

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The full-sized test tail modified and equipped with sweeping jet actuators. (Image credit: NASA Ames Research Center) Click to enlarge.

NASA’s Ames Research Center and NASA’s Langley Research Center, in partnership with The Boeing Co., have completed wind tunnel testing of a full-scale Boeing 757 vertical tail model equipped with active flow control (AFC) technology. The project is one of eight large-scale integrated technology demonstrations that are part of NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) Project. (Earlier post.)

Active flow control involves the manipulation of a flow field—through the addition of energy—to improve the aerodynamic performance of an aircraft structure. Active flow control can enable the design of simpler, smaller and more aerodynamically efficient structures that help reduce aircraft weight, drag, and fuel consumption.

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