Controls and controllers
[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.]
Avoiding Obstacles Safely at High Speed: An Optimal Control Approach for Driving Heavy Autonomous Ground Vehicles Close to their Dynamic Limits
June 22, 2016
by Paul N. Blumberg, PhD
No one who follows automotive news and technology trends can be unaware of the intense research and experimentation taking place related to vehicles that drive themselves, i.e., “Autonomous Vehicles.” Among other potential benefits, these vehicles offer the promise of increased safety on the nation’s roadways and personal mobility to those who are not able or do not wish to drive themselves.
The Society of Automotive Engineers has already developed Standard J3016 which describes six different levels of “driving automation” increasing from Level 0 - No Automation, to Level 5 - Full Automation. At Level 0, a human driver performs all driving tasks, even if assisted by warning or other momentary intervention systems. At Level 5, a system comprising sensors, actuators and control algorithms performs all driving tasks such as steering, braking, acceleration and monitoring the vehicle and roadway under all modes of driving. At Level 5, a human driver is no longer necessary.
NVIDIA deep learning software platform gets trio of big updates
June 20, 2016
NVIDIA announced three major updates for its deep learning software platform. NVIDIA DIGITS 4 introduces a new object detection workflow, enabling data scientists to train deep neural networks to find faces, pedestrians, traffic signs, vehicles and other objects in a sea of images. This workflow enables advanced deep learning solutions—such as tracking objects from satellite imagery, security and surveillance, advanced driver assistance systems and medical diagnostic screening.
When training a deep neural network, researchers must repeatedly tune various parameters to get high accuracy out of a trained model. DIGITS 4 can automatically train neural networks across a range of tuning parameters, significantly reducing the time required to arrive at the most accurate solution.
UQM partners with Eaton, Pi Innovo on full MD, HD electric drivetrain system; 2-speed transmission
June 16, 2016
UQM Technologies has begun a development and production program with Eaton’s Vehicle Group and Pi Innovo. The alliance calls for Eaton to develop and supply to UQM a 2-speed transmission for an EV application; Pi Innovo will develop and supply to UQM the transmission control unit. Together, the components will be combined with UQM’s current PowerPhase HD220/HD250 motor and inverter system to create a full electric drivetrain system called the “UQM PowerPhaseDT.”
The system will allow customers in the medium- and heavy-duty EV commercial markets to achieve increased performance in areas of gradability, acceleration and efficiency. UQM will have prototypes ready for customers by early fall and start-of-production units ready by early 2017.
BMW Group introduces MINI and Rolls Royce centenary concepts; individual mobility based on megatrends and projections
To mark its centenary year in 2016, the BMW Group is looking further ahead than usual with a series of Vision Vehicles designed to anticipate and respond to future mobility needs. At its Munich Centenary Event on 7 March, the automaker introduced the BMW VISION NEXT 100. (Earlier post.)
BMW now has introduced two more Vision concepts: the MINI VISION NEXT 100 and the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100. A fourth Vision Vehicle, by BMW Motorrad, will make its premiere on 16 October in Los Angeles, completing the BMW Group’s brand quartet of far-forward looking concepts.
TI introduces two new motor drivers for high-performance powertrain apps; support for start-stop
Texas Instruments (TI) has introduced two new auotmotive motor drivers that support high-performance powertrain applications. The DRV8305-Q1, a highly integrated three-phase brushless DC gate driver, and the UCC27211A-Q1, a high-current half-bridge gate driver, improve system performance and provide design flexibility to meet a diverse range of automotive system requirements.
For powertrain applications such as transmission pumps or engine cooling fans, the DRV8305-Q1 features a smart gate-drive architecture with programmable slew-rate control that allows easy optimization of MOSFET electromagnetic compliance (EMC). With an operating ambient temperature range of -40 to 150°C, the DRV8305-Q1 meets the Automotive Electronics Council (AEC)-Q100 Grade 0 automotive temperature specification. The device also operates down to 4.4 V to support start-stop functionality. Other features and benefits include the following:
Daimler Trucks pushing forward with platform strategy for chassis and electrics/electronics
June 08, 2016
Daimler Trucks is systematically expanding its strategic pillars of intelligent platforms and modules beyond the existing modular drivetrain components. The platforms for drivetrain components for medium- and heavy-duty engines and for automated transmissions are already successful in the market, and account for about 50% of a truck’s value added.
Daimler Trucks is now introducing multi-brand platforms for other truck module groups, including uniform electrics/electronics architecture (E/E), chassis and cab. Joint development and purchasing will be carried out wherever there is no impact on customer perception and brand differentiation.
A novel method for energy efficient warmup of lithium-ion batteries from sub-zero temperatures using predictive control
June 06, 2016
by Paul N. Blumberg, PhD
Many of the machines and appliances that are in common use today require that their power be available immediately, regardless of adverse ambient conditions such as sub-zero temperatures. For example, on a 0 °F day, we expect to be able to start our cars or trucks, which may have cooled down to near ambient conditions, and proceed to use them in the same manner as if we were in more moderate climates. To accomplish this, engineers and scientists have worked hard to ensure that in extremely cold temperature environments, the engine oil does not become too viscous and that there are sufficient high volatility components in the fuel so that vaporization and ignition within the engine are possible on an almost instantaneous basis.
The same requirement holds true for battery-powered devices or vehicles. The Lithium-ion battery has emerged as the current “battery of choice” for automotive hybrid and electric vehicle applications. Over the last decade, significant improvements in its energy and power density have been made through research in all aspects of its fundamental electrochemistry and materials. Nevertheless, due to fundamental electrochemical factors, the availability of “instantaneous” power at temperatures below approximately 15 ˚F remains a challenge.
New Georgia Tech MPPI technique controls autonomous vehicles at edge of handling limits
May 24, 2016
Researchers from Georgia Tech’s Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering (AE) and the School of Interactive Computing (IC) have developed a new control technique for autonomous vehicles that can help keep a driverless vehicle under control as it maneuvers at the edge of its handling limits.
The Georgia Tech method—model predictive path integral control (MPPI) using covariance variable importance sampling—was developed specifically to address the non-linear dynamics involved in controlling a vehicle near its friction limits. The approach could help make self-driving cars of the future safer under hazardous road conditions. A paper covering this research was presented at the recent International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Stockholm, 16-21 May.
Audi A7 piloted driving concept “Jack” now driving more naturally
May 13, 2016
Audi’s latest version of its piloted driving research car, the Audi A7 concept “Jack,” has not only learned how to autonomously perform all of its driving maneuvers on the expressway, it has also learned how to show consideration for other road users. Jack exhibits a driving style that is adaptive to the given situation, safe and especially interactive, Audi says.
“Jack”—the internal nickname for the Audi A7 piloted driving concept technology platform now passes trucks with a slightly wider lateral gap. It also signals upcoming lane changes by activating the turn signal and moving closer to the lane marking first—just as human drivers would do to indicate their intentions.
Toyota R&D continues work on free piston linear generators for EVs; novel resonant pendulum control method
May 06, 2016
In 2014, a team at Toyota Central R&D Labs Inc. published two SAE papers on their work in developing a prototype 10 kW Free Piston Engine Linear Generator (FPEG) for B/C segment electric vehicles. (Earlier post.) The FPEG consists of a two-stroke combustion system, a linear generator, and a gas spring chamber; the unit offers potential for compact build, high efficiency and high fuel flexibility.
Now, the Toyota researchers report on a new FPEG control method to realize stable and flexible piston motion control for efficient electric power generation. They presented their work in a paper at the recent 2016 SAE World Congress.
Ford invests $182.2 million in cloud-based software development company Pivotal
May 05, 2016
Ford is investing $182.2 million in Pivotal, a cloud-based software platform company with which it already has partnered (earlier post) on FordPass (earlier post), to further enhance its software development capabilities. The investment was part of Pivotal’s $253-million Series C financing round; the round was led by new investor Ford, in conjunction with Microsoft and all previous investors GE, EMC and VMware. The deal is expected to close in May 2016, subject to customary conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approval.
Ford intends for the $182.2-million investment in Pivotal to help drive Ford’s transition to both an auto and a mobility company.
SwRI to showcase Ranger precision localization technology for automated driving; non-GPS system with 2cm precision
April 27, 2016
Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) will showcase its award-winning Ranger precision localization solution at the AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2016 conference and trade show in New Orleans 2-5 May.
Ranger is a patented approach to vehicle localization that enables precise navigation for automated vehicles using commercially available hardware in combination with SwRI algorithms. The latest Ranger kit can be used for automated driving, valet parking in garages and structures, freight distribution, and docking of buses and large trucks.
AVnu Alliance members showcase the first multivendor interoperability demonstration of the AVnu AVB Automotive Profile
April 20, 2016
Members of AVnu Alliance, the industry consortium driving open, standards-based deterministic networking (earlier post), publicly demonstrated interoperability of systems designed to meet the AVnu Automotive Profile at the Automotive Ethernet Congress held in Munich, Germany earlier this year.
The demo featured products and solutions from several AVnu Alliance members: Ixia, a provider of network testing, visibility, and security solutions; Marvell Technology Group, a provider of complete silicon solutions; and NXP Semiconductors, a provider of secure connectivity solutions for embedded applications.
Self-driving mining truck stable at 90 km/h; clothoid-based model predictive control
April 15, 2016
A prototype self-driving truck under development by Scania and Swedish research universities has tested successfully at speeds of up to 90 km/h (56 mph). According to the research lead at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, the successful tests are aimed at implementing self-driving Scania trucks in mining operations within a year or two.
KTH, Scania, Linköping University, Saab and Autoliv and collaborating in a government-funded project called iQMatic, which is aimed at to develop a fully self-driving truck for difficult environments such as mines. With much greater mass and built-in inertia than passenger cars, such trucks present a greater challenge for autonomous driving.
ARPA-E issues $30M NEXTCAR program funding opportunity; 20% reduction in energy consumption beyond current regulatory requirements
April 12, 2016
The Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has issued a $30-million funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001564) for the Next-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Automated On-Road Vehicles (NEXTCAR) program. (Earlier post.)
NEXTCAR seeks to fund the development of new and emerging vehicle dynamic and powertrain (VD&PT) control technologies that can reduce the energy consumption of future vehicles—light-, medium- and heavy-duty—through the use of connectivity and vehicle automation. The new program is seeking transformative technological solutions that will enable at least an additional 20% reduction in the energy consumption of future connected and automated vehicles (CAVs), compared to vehicles without these VD&PT control technologies. I.e., the NEXTCAR improvements are in addition to and beyond any currently expected future vehicle fleet fuel efficiency improvements that will be required or driven by Federal or State regulations.
EB software and Mapscape digital maps support WEpods autonomous electric shuttles
April 06, 2016
Elektrobit (EB), a leading developer of embedded technology solutions for the automotive industry, and Netherlands-based digital map provider Mapscape, are contributing to WEpods—completely autonomous electric shuttle buses that will use public roads.
EB and Mapscape together provide an enhanced electronic horizon solution for assisting in motion prediction and path planning of the autonomous shuttle bus. Mapscape provides an NDS (Navigation Data Standard) map database with comprehensive road geometry data that provides more detailed information for objects and pinpoint locations than standard map information.
Saarbrücken engineers developing networked self-analyzing electric motors
March 23, 2016
Engineers from Saarland University are developing intelligent motor systems that function without the need for additional sensors. By essentially transforming the motor itself into a sensor, the team led by Professor Matthias Nienhaus is creating smart motors that can tell whether they are still running smoothly, can communicate and interact with other motors and can be efficiently controlled.
By using data collected from the motor while it is operating, the researchers are able to calculate quantities that in other systems would need to be measured by additional sensors. Further, they are teaching the drive how to make use of this knowledge.
Toyota and Lexus making automated braking standard on nearly every model and trim level by end of 2017; 4 years ahead of NHTSA/IIHS target
March 21, 2016
Toyota will begin to include the and Lexus Safety System+ and Toyota Safety Sense packages, anchored by automatic emergency braking (AEB), on almost every new vehicle by the end of 2017—four years before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) 2022 target. (Earlier post.) Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America. made the announcement at the New York Auto Show.
Already available as a low-cost option on a broad range of Lexus and Toyota vehicles, Lexus Safety System+ and Toyota Safety Sense are designed to help address three key areas of driver assistance: preventing or mitigating frontal collisions – including pedestrians; helping keep drivers within their lane; and enhancing road safety during nighttime driving. Technologies include Toyota’s Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert, and Automatic High Beams.
Pi Innovo and GaN Systems collaborate to offer electronics design services for auxiliary systems for multi-voltage, hybrid and electric vehicles
Controls engineering firm Pi Innovo and gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor manufacturer GaN Systems are collaborating to offer automakers a pathway to the efficient and effective electrification of auxiliary systems for multi-voltage conventional, hybrid-electric, and pure electric vehicles.
GaN devices offer a number of benefits compared to silicon-based devices, including high dielectric strength; high current density; high switching speeds; low on-resistance; and the ability to withstand higher operating temperature. Compared to silicon, gallium nitride has ten times higher electrical breakdown characteristics, three times the band gap, and exceptional carrier mobility.
20 automakers commit to make automatic emergency braking standard on new vehicles no later than 2022; faster than regulatory process
March 17, 2016
The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced the commitment by 20 automakers representing more than 99% of the US. auto market to make automatic emergency braking (AEB) a standard feature on virtually all new cars in the US no later than NHTSA’s 2022 reporting year, which begins 1 Sept 2022.
Automakers making the commitment are Audi; BMW; FCA US LLC; Ford; General Motors; Honda; Hyundai; Jaguar Land Rover; Kia; Maserati; Mazda; Mercedes-Benz; Mitsubishi Motors; Nissan; Porsche; Subaru; Tesla Motors; Toyota; Volkswagen; and Volvo Car USA. The unprecedented commitment means that this important safety technology will be available to more consumers more quickly than would be possible through the regulatory process.
Honda R&D using IBM Watson IoT technology for real-time monitoring and data analysis in F1 racers
Honda R&D is monitoring and analyzing data from more than 160 sensors in Formula One (F1) cars using IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Drivers and crews can apply data and analytics in real-time to help streamline performance and improve fuel efficiency, enabling drivers to make real-time racing decisions based on this data, such as speed adjustments and pit stops.
To help mark its return to Formula One racing and reach new milestones in efficiency for both race cars and future consumer models, Honda R&D developed a new system to analyze data from the hybrid power units quickly and efficiently to check residual fuel levels and estimate the possibility of mechanical problems. Honda is using the IBM IoT for Automotive solution, based on IBM Watson IoT technology, to deliver data generated from cars, including temperature, pressure and power levels, directly to the cloud for real-time analysis.
New Buick LaCrosse upgrades computing power from 17 to 31 ECUs; new electronic control system
March 16, 2016
The all-new Buick LaCrosse, which launches this week in China, features significant upgrades in computing power and networking to advance connectivity and safety features.
There are 31 ECUs distributed in the all-new Buick LaCrosse—its predecessor utilized only 17. This 82% increase in the number of ECUs helps to optimize calculating efficiency. In order to facilitate the handling of large quantities of data, a specific data bus is arranged to connect ECUs, each of which can process data independently.
IEEE approves 802.3bw Ethernet; 100 Mb/s over single twisted-pair driven by needs of automotive industry
March 15, 2016
IEEE announced the approval of IEEE 802.3bw, IEEE Standard for Ethernet Amendment: Physical Layer Specifications and Management Parameters for 100 Mb/s Operation over a Single Balanced Twisted Pair Cable (100BASE-T1). The standard is driven primarily by the needs of the global automotive industry and illustrates Ethernet’s expansion into new application areas.
Mainstream adoption of emerging in-car applications such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and infotainment has created the need for cost-effective, high-bandwidth connectivity. The first of several Ethernet standards especially tuned to the needs of the in-car automotive market, IEEE 802.3bw-2015 100BASE-T1 will provide 100 Mb/s Ethernet over a single twisted-pair. It is intended to enable the consolidation of these new, as well as legacy, in-car applications on a homogenous network architecture.
UC Riverside reinforcement-learning-based real-time energy management system can improve PHEV efficiency by almost 12%
February 09, 2016
Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have demonstrated that a new, data-driven, reinforcement-learning-based, real-time energy management system (EMS) can improve the efficiency of current plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) by almost 12% compared to the standard, binary mode control strategy. The UCR EMS optimizes the power-split control in real time while learning the optimal decisions from historical driving cycles.
Further, the ~12% improvement does not factor in charging opportunities. An 8% fuel saving—again, compared to the standard binary mode EMS—can be achieved when charging opportunities are considered, the researchers said in a paper describing the system in the journal Transportation Research Record.
New QNX software platform enables ADAS and automated driving
January 23, 2016
QNX Software Systems Limited, a subsidiary of BlackBerry Limited, earlier this month introduced the QNX Platform for ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems), expanding its portfolio of automotive software products. The QNX Platform for ADAS is scheduled for general release in Q2 2016.
Designed for scalability, the platform will enable automotive companies to build a full range of automated driving systems, from informational ADAS modules that provide a 360° surround view of the vehicle, to sensor fusion systems that combine data from multiple sources such as cameras and radar, to high-performance processors that make control decisions in fully autonomous vehicles.
Ricardo white paper outlines needed developments to realize autonomous driving
January 14, 2016
Engineering firm Ricardo has published a white paper—Key Enablers for the Fully Autonomous Vehicle—highlighting the technologies and development processes that are needed to develop commercially feasible self-driving cars that meet consumer expectations while also achieving compliance with likely future transport regulations.
According to the Boston Consulting Group, the projected size of the global autonomous vehicle market in 2025 will be $36 billion for partially autonomous vehicles (levels 1–3) and $6 billion for fully autonomous vehicles (level 4). This includes both passenger and commercial vehicle uses. The realization of fully autonomous vehicles will require further evolution in software, sensors, integration and efficient system testing beyond what is in place for current advanced driver assistance systems.
Visteon to launch ECU-consolidating cockpit domain controller with European automaker in 2018
January 08, 2016
Addressing the proliferation of electronic control units (ECUs) in vehicles, Visteon Corporation is preparing to launch an industry-first, automotive-grade cockpit domain controller with a European automaker on a global vehicle program in 2018.
SmartCore combines previously separate instrument clusters, head-up displays (HUD) and advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) domains on a one-chip, multi-domain controller that can be accessed through an integrated, easy-to-use human machine interaction (HMI). Visteon displayed the SmartCore connected domain controller at CES 2016.
Toshiba introduces new automotive Ethernet-AVB bridge; working with Qualcomm on advanced connected car systems
AT CES 2016, Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc. (TAEC) introduced an automotive-grade Ethernet bridge solution for in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) and other automotive applications. The TC9560XBG supports standards such as IEEE 802.1AS and IEEE 802.1Qav, generally referred to as Ethernet-AVB (Audio Video Bridging). The Ethernet-AVB standard enables stable, reliable multimedia transmissions, making it suitable for IVI and telematics. (Earlier post.)
TAEC also announced it is working with Qualcomm Technologies to bring to the automotive market advanced connected car platforms powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 820A and Snapdragon 602A processors, and telematics solutions powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 LTE modem. (Earlier post.)
Audi to use Gen 2 zFAS controller in production e-tron quattro; piloted driving; moving to domain-controlled architecture
January 07, 2016
The production version of Audi’s e-tron quattro battery-electric SUV (earlier post) will be equipped with the second-generation of Audi’s central driver assistance controller the zFAS (earlier post), according to Ricky Hudi, Executive Vice President Electronic Development, Audi AG. The vehicle will be capable of driving fully autonomously, he said at CES 2016.
zFAS is the domain controller for Audi piloted driving systems. The information supplied by all sensors—including the signals from the 3D cameras, the laser scanner and the radar and ultrasonic sensors—is permanently fed into and processed by this module. With its tremendous computing power, the zFAS will be capable of continuously comparing the data from the vehicle sensor systems with the model of the road space and its surroundings.
Qualcomm introduces Snapdragon 820A SoC infotainment and connectivity processors for automotive; expanding automotive investment
Qualcomm subsidiary Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., introduced its latest Qualcomm Snapdragon automotive processors, the Snapdragon 820 Automotive family, offering a scalable next-generation infotainment, graphics and multimedia platform with machine intelligence and a version with integrated LTE-Advanced connectivity.
The new processors expand Qualcomm’s automotive technology portfolio, adding to a collection of integrated solutions in the areas of telematics and connectivity, as well as high definition graphics and multimedia for rich infotainment systems, machine intelligence and sensor fusion for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), GNSS location technologies, V2X (Vehicle to Vehicle/Infrastructure/Pedestrian) communications for improved safety and driver convenience, and wireless charging for electric vehicles.
Kia Motors introduces new DRIVE WISE sub-brand for advanced driver assistance and autonomous driving technologies
January 06, 2016
At CES 2016, Kia Motors launched a new sub-brand—DRIVE WISE—to encompass its future Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Kia recently announced plans to manufacture partially-autonomous cars by 2020, and aims to bring its first fully-autonomous vehicle to market by 2030. (Earlier post.)
A preliminary $2-billion investment by Kia by 2018 is intended to fast-track development of the new DRIVE WISE technologies. The state of Nevada recently granted Kia a special licence to test the new technologies on public roads. Kia’s battery-electric Soul EV is acting as the brand’s testbed for the development of next-generation DRIVE WISE technologies.
Toyota Research Institute CEO Pratt outlines initial AI/robotics mandates; trillion-mile reliability
Last November, Toyota Motor established a new company—Toyota Research Institute Inc. (TRI), an R&D enterprise with a focus on artificial intelligence and robotics—with an announced initial investment of $1 billion over the next five years. (Earlier post.) (The investment is in addition to the $50 million investment over the next five years with MIT and Stanford, each close by TRI’s new offices, to establish joint fundamental artificial intelligence research centers at each university.) At a press conference at CES 2016, TRI CEO and Toyota Executive Technical Advisor Dr. Gill Pratt laid out his new company’s near-term approach and challenges it seeks to address, as well as its much larger ambitions.
For the longer term, Toyota believes artificial intelligence and robotics offers the significant potential not only to support future industrial technologies but to create an entirely new mobility industry. Drawing an analogy to Toyota’s own history, Dr. Pratt noted that:
NVIDIA introduces DRIVE PX 2 platform for autonomous driving
At CES 2016, NVIDIA introduced NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2—a high-performance computing platform for in-vehicle artificial intelligence applied to the complexities inherent in autonomous driving. DRIVE PX 2 utilizes deep learning on NVIDIA’s most advanced GPUs for 360-degree situational awareness around the car, to determine precisely where the car is and to compute a safe, comfortable trajectory.
DRIVE PX 2—which delivers processing power equivalent to 150 MacBook Pros—uses two next-generation Tegra processors plus two next-generation discrete GPUs, based on the Pascal architecture, to deliver up to 24 trillion deep learning operations per second, which are specialized instructions that accelerate the math used in deep learning network inference. That’s more than 10 times the computational horsepower than the previous-generation DRIVE PX.
ARPA-E issues RFI on energy efficiency optimization for connected and automated vehicles; vehicle dynamic and powertrain control
January 05, 2016
The Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has issued a request for information (DE-FOA-0001473) seeking input from researchers and developers in a broad range of disciplines including automotive vehicle control, powertrain control and transportation analytics regarding the development of advanced energy efficiency optimization technologies for future connected and automated vehicles (CAVs).
ARPA-E is interested in new and emerging full vehicle and powertrain control technologies that can reduce the energy use associated with automotive transportation, beyond those technologies currently expected to be deployed in future vehicles. The focus of the RFI is on the potential improvement in the energy efficiency of each individual vehicle in the automotive fleet through the improvement of powertrain control and vehicle dynamic control, by utilizing emerging technologies and strategies in sensing, communications, information, control and automation.
Mercedes adding semi-autonomous Active Lane Change Assist to new E-Class in spring
December 09, 2015
Mercedes-Benz will expand the new Driving Assistance package of the future E-Class for the market launch in spring with the semi-autonomous Active Lane Change Assist function. The radar- and camera-based assistance system supports the driver in changing lanes—for example, when passing on multi-lane roads. The system offers a significant further increase in comfort and can help to prevent collisions.
Active Lane Change Assist is a sub-function of DRIVE PILOT and thus a component of the Driving Assistance package from Mercedes-Benz, which will have its world premiere in the new E-Class next year. The new E-Class will be launched in Germany in spring 2016.
Audi’s production electric e-tron quattro may set a new standard for vehicle handling; advanced vehicle dynamics control
December 01, 2015
The production version of Audi’s battery electric e-tron quattro SUV (earlier post), due out in 2018, is an important vehicle for the brand, and especially for Audi of America, which is driving many of the requirements for the C-segment electric SUV. At the LA Auto Show, Audi of America President Scott Keogh said that the brand is targeting at least 25% of its US sales to be e-tron—i.e., plug-in hybrid or full electric—models by 2025. (Earlier post.)
He also observed, in a conversation on the eve of the LAAS, that if an automaker can launch a defining product, the game changes. Audi intends for the e-tron quattro to become such a defining product—an Audi electric SUV in the high-volume C-segment that is reasonably priced (in the luxury sector) and delivers longer range along with all the “known” benefits of electric drive: speedy acceleration, quiet, lower cost of fueling, and zero tailpipe emissions (as well as the high-value HOV sticker for some markets). But to make this a benchmark product, Audi intends to go further, leveraging the three-motor electric quattro powertrain through very advanced software controls to deliver a ride and handling experience not possible even in an all-wheel drive electric vehicle equipped with a torque vectoring differential mechanism (e.g., a Tesla).
Ford first to test autonomous vehicle at U Michigan Mcity
November 13, 2015
Ford is the first automaker to test autonomous vehicles at Mcity—the full-scale simulated real-world urban environment at the University of Michigan. (Earlier post.) The 32-acre facility is part of the university’s Mobility Transformation Center.
Ford has been testing autonomous vehicles for more than 10 years and is now expanding testing on the diversity of roads and realistic neighborhoods of Mcity near the North Campus Research Complex to accelerate research of advanced sensing technologies.
Kespry and NVIDIA demonstrate deep learning for commercial autonomous drones; NVIDIA Jetson TX1
November 11, 2015
Kespry, a commercial drone system company, demonstrated a prototype drone that uses NVIDIA artificial intelligence technology to recognize objects. The Kespry prototype uses the newly introduced NVIDIA Jetson TX1 module for deep learning, which offers complex algorithms to make autonomous devices more intelligent. The prototype is based on the Kespry Drone System that is in use by customers in the materials, mining and construction industries.
The demo was conducted using the NVIDIA Jetson TX1 embedded module—unveiled yesterday at an NVIDIA event in San Francisco. Jetson TX1 is a credit-card sized module that will enable a new generation of smart, learning autonomous devices. With its 1 teraflops of performance, Jetson delivers exceptional performance for machine learning, computer vision, GPU computing, and graphics, while drawing very little power.
HARMAN contributes open source software to Open AVB Project for low-latency, real-time automotive Ethernet
November 03, 2015
HARMAN has made an open source software contribution to the Open AVB project to help drive the adoption of Ethernet AVB/TSN (Audio Video Bridging/Time Sensitive Networking) in automotive, consumer, pro audio/video and industrial markets. In AVB/TSN, the maximum latency is deterministic and thus supports low-latency applications from live A/V to machine control.
Legacy Ethernet uses “best effort delivery”—i.e., data traffic flow is indeterminate, and intervening traffic can delay a data stream. Because of this uncertainty on receiving a stream packet, the receivers in legacy systems typically employ large buffers so as not to underflow, which would result in an audible click on an audio stream or loss of critical control information in a control stream.
New, faster cutting-plane optimization algorithm
October 23, 2015
The theory—and sometimes the implementation—of control systems relies heavily on optimization (e.g., earlier post)—as do many other aspects of engineering and design (e.g., earlier post). At the IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science, a trio of present and past MIT graduate students won a best-student-paper award for a new general-purpose algorithm for solving optimization problems.
The new “cutting-plane” method algorithm improves on the running time of its most efficient predecessor, and the researchers offer some reason to think that they may have reached the theoretical limit. They also present a new method for applying their general algorithm to specific problems, which efficiency gains of several orders of magnitude.
Opinion: Enablers of disruption in transportation
by Mike Millikin, editor, Green Car Congress
This post is part of the ‘Think Further’ series sponsored by Fred Alger Management. For more “Think Further” content, please visit www.thinkfurtheralger.com.”
The car has become the most computationally complex high-tech device with which the vast majority of consumers will ever come into contact—let alone own. The car has also become a focal point for the development of innovative and entrepreneurial technologies, services and business models designed to enhance and evolve not only the basic efficiency of vehicles, but also the way in which they are used alone and as a part of a larger multi-modal transportation eco-system.
There have been and continue to be a number of market drivers forcing this evolution: concerns over health effects, congestion, consumption of petroleum-based fuels, climate change, an ever more rapidly increasing population and what appears to be an inexorable movement toward large-scale urbanization. The auto industry has known for a long time that business-as-usual was literally unsustainable.
Marvell introduces 1st 1000BASE-T1 automotive Ethernet PHY transceiver; Gigabit Ethernet for connected cars
October 20, 2015
Marvell, a leading fabless semiconductor company, introduced the Marvell 88Q2112, the industry’s first 1000BASE-T1 automotive Ethernet physical layer (PHY) transceiver compliant with the draft IEEE 802.3bp 1000BASE-T1 standard—i.e., Gigabit Ethernet for cars. The 88Q2112 supports the industry’s highest in-vehicle connectivity bandwidth and is designed to meet the rigorous EMI requirements of an automotive system.
The 1000BASE-T1 standard allows high speed and bi-directional data traffic over light weight, low-cost, single pair cable harnesses. The Marvell 88Q2112 will sample to Marvell’s global customers starting in November 2015.
New efficient hybrid optimization control method for diesel engine emissions and performance
October 19, 2015
Researchers at Iowa State have developed a new hybrid optimization control method to improve diesel engine emissions and performance. As reported in a paper in the International Journal of Engine Research, the hybrid method, which combines both particle swarm optimization (PSO) and genetic algorithm (GA) methods was able to locate a narrow window of operation which showed 27% lower NOx emissions and 60% lower particulate matter emissions than a standard PSO method.
The hybrid method was also able to locate the improvements using similar dynamometer time, indicating that the hybrid method is more efficient and more effective, the researchers said.
ORNL researcher proposes solution for online optimization of power management in HEVs/PHEVs and for different drivers
October 12, 2015
Dr. Andreas Malikopoulos at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has developed a solution for the online optimization of power management in parallel HEVs/PHEVs and for any different driver (i.e., for different driving styles). A paper on his work is published in IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology.
There has been a great deal of work done since the late 1990s on the optimization of power management control—i.e., the optimal distribution of power demanded by the driver to the available subsystems of combustion engine, motor, generator and battery—in parallel HEVs. Despite that significant body of work, Malikopoulos notes, deriving online an optimal solution for different driving styles still remains a challenging control problem.
Jaguar Land Rover and EPSRC announce $17M autonomous vehicle research program; 5 projects selected
October 09, 2015
Jaguar Land Rover and the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) are jointly funding an £11-million (US$17-million) research program to develop fully autonomous cars. The research will take place at ten UK universities and the Transport Research Laboratory.
As part of its strategic partnership with Jaguar Land Rover, EPSRC issued a joint call for research proposals that focussed on developing fully autonomous cars: “Towards Autonomy - Smart and Connected Control”. Five projects were selected and Jaguar Land Rover will be leading the collaboration with these successful research groups.
$90M UR:BAN research initiative presenting results on ADAS and traffic management for cities; intelligent vehicles
October 07, 2015
In Düsseldorf, the 31 partners—automobile and electronics manufacturers, suppliers, communication technology and software companies, research institutes and cities—involved in the UR:BAN research initiative (Urban Space: user-friendly assistance systems and network management) presented the results of four years of work in a two-day event.
UR:BAN’s goal is to develop advanced driver assistance and traffic management systems for cities, with a focus on the human element in all aspects of mobility and traffic. The project pursued its objectives in three main thematic target areas: Cognitive Assistance; Networked Traffic System; and Human Factors in Traffic.
Volkswagen: new EU 6 diesels clear of software cheat, but up to 11M EA189 diesels worldwide affected
September 22, 2015
In a statement issued this morning, Volkswagen AG said that new vehicles from the Volkswagen Group with EU 6 diesel engines currently available in the European Union comply with legal requirements and environmental standards. The engine control software in those vehicles does not affect handling, consumption or emissions, the company said.
Although the engine management software that enabled the cheating on NOx targets (earlier post) is installed in other Volkswagen Group vehicles with diesel engines, the company added, for the majority of those engines the software does not have any effect. However, the software “discrepancies” do relate to vehicles with the Type EA189 2.0-liter diesel engines—involving some eleven million vehicles worldwide. (Earlier post.)
DOE announces $70M for Innovation Institute on Smart Manufacturing; advanced sensors, controls, platforms, and modeling for manufacturing
September 18, 2015
The US Department of Energy announced up to $70 million in funding (DE-FOA-0001263) for the next Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute, which will be focused on smart manufacturing. With this investment, the DOE aims to support research and development advancements that can reduce the cost of deployment for technologies such as advanced sensors, controls, platforms, and modeling for manufacturing by as much as 50%. As part of President Obama’s National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) institutes, the institute will also demonstrate these technologies in manufacturing processes with a goal to increase energy efficiency by at least 15% and improve energy productivity by at least 50%.
“Energy intensive industries, such as steelmaking, could see a 10 to 20 percent reduction in the cost of production, making products such as solar panels and chemical materials, such as plastics, as well as the cars and other products they go into, more affordable for American consumers,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. The goals of the Smart Manufacturing Institute are to:
New Renesas SoC enables transfer of vehicle high-resolution camera video through multiple systems; surround view
September 10, 2015
Renesas Electronics Corporation announced the development of the R-Car T2 system-on-a-chip (SoC), an SoC dedicated for Ethernet AVB-enabled vehicle camera networks, complementing the company’s popular R-Car Family devices for infotainment, instrument cluster and ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) applications. (Ethernet AVB, or Audio Video Bridging, is an emerging standard that extends Ethernet to support multimedia streaming.)
The new R-Car T2 enables the delivery of high-resolution camera video through multiple systems while maintaining real-time performance with very low latency levels. These capabilities are key to providing the “surround view” monitoring and obstacle detection applications that contribute to safe driving experiences.
AVnu Alliance, Cisco and TTTech to host Deterministic Ethernet Forum for in-vehicle networking
August 28, 2015
AVnu Alliance, Cisco and TTTech will host the Deterministic Ethernet Forum for automotive in-vehicle networking and the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT), on 23 October 2015 in Vienna, Austria. The forum will be an opportunity for leading automotive and industrial companies to discuss and influence the implementation of deterministic Ethernet solutions and related standards. Confirmed keynotes at the event include presentations by Altera, Audi, AVnu Alliance, Cisco, Delphi, GE, KUKA, NXP, Renesas and Vestas.
Deterministic Ethernet uses time scheduling to bring deterministic real-time communication to standard IEEE 802 Ethernet. Deterministic Ethernet is based on IEEE 802.3, IEEE 802.1Q AVB and 802.1Qbv TSN (pre-standard) as well as SAE AS6802 standards, and guarantees message delivery across switched Ethernet networks. It offers improved safety and security with a traffic class immune to Denial of Service. It also enables the full convergence of critical, real-time and regular traffic within a single network.
ZF TRW wins two major OEM contracts for Gen 2 Safety Domain ECU; building block for automated driving
August 27, 2015
ZF TRW has won two major contracts with North American and European vehicle manufacturers for its second generation Safety Domain ECU (SDE 2)—a key building block and enabler of automated driving. The central controller will launch in Europe and the US starting in 2018. TRW introduced the SDE 2 at the Frankfurt IAA in 2013.
The SDE acts as a central integration hub, processing millions of bytes of data from environmental sensors of the vehicle’s state and surroundings. By interfacing with the steering, braking and drivetrain systems, a multitude of functions can be enabled while reducing the number of control units and simplifying the vehicle’s electronic architecture.
NXP announces complete automotive Ethernet portfolio; high-bandwidth technology for autonomous driving and secure connected vehicles
August 07, 2015
NXP Semiconductors N.V. announced its new product portfolio for automotive Ethernet. The portfolio builds on BroadR-Reach—an automotive standard defined by the OPEN Alliance industry group, with the aim to make consumer-level Ethernet capable of meeting the automotive industry’s stringent requirements. NXP is a founding member of OPEN Alliance and the first to offer a truly automotive portfolio consisting of two product families: Ethernet transceivers (TJA1100) and Ethernet switches (SJA1105). Product samples are immediately available, and Ethernet transceivers will begin production in Q4.
Ethernet can provide the network backbone for autonomous driving and connected vehicles, as it is capable of the high data bandwidth, communications speed, weight reduction, and cost efficiency that future connected cars will require. NXP says that its modular approach with switch and transceiver allows for flexible and cost efficient combinations, enabling automakers to build optimal solutions for a wide range of networking architectures—from entry-level cars to high-end luxury vehicles. This will also pave the way for new, distributed networking architectures (video) in the future.
Ko-HAF project on highly automated driving at higher speeds launched in Germany
August 06, 2015
A consortium of 16 automobile manufacturers, automotive suppliers and public partners has launched the Ko-HAF (Kooperatives hochautomatisiertes Fahren, Cooperative Highly Automated Driving) project in Germany. Ko-HAF, which is targeting highly automated driving at higher speeds, has a total budget of €36.3 million (US$40 million) and is expected to run until November 2018.
Ko-HAF is supported by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) as the first project within the framework of its new program “New Vehicle and System Technologies”.
Aclima partnering with Google to map outdoor air quality with Street View vehicles
July 29, 2015
Aclima, Inc., a San Francisco-based company that designs and deploys environmental sensor networks, is partnering with Google Earth Outreach to map and better to understand urban air quality. Google Street View cars can be equipped with Aclima’s mobile sensing platform to measure nitrogen dioxide; nitric oxide; ozone; carbon monoxide; carbon dioxide; methane; black carbon; particulate matter; and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
As a pilot, in August 2014, Aclima instrumented three Google Street View vehicles to perform a month-long system test in the Denver metro area during the DISCOVER-AQ study conducted by NASA and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The cars clocked 750 hours of drive time and gathered 150 million data points, correlated with data from EPA stationary measurement sites. EPA provided scientific expertise in study design and instrument operations as part of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Aclima.
Roland Berger study explores need for consolidation in vehicle electronic architectures
In a new study, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants explores the strategy of module consolidation as a solution for the feature- and function-driven increasing complexity of vehicle electronic architectures.
Consumers increasingly expect the latest and greatest in electronics and safety when purchasing a car, regardless of type. Whether it’s an instrument cluster with a graphics rich, fully reconfigurable display or a lane departure warning system, a tremendous amount of processing power and electronic communication is required. The current approach to adding these features to vehicle’s electric/electronic (E/E) architectures is generally “ad-hoc”—i.e., simply adding a new ECU every time a new vehicle feature requires processing power. This has resulted in vehicles with as many as 100 ECUs and more than 100 million lines of code in ultra-luxury cars.
MAHLE control software combines GPS and topographical road data to manage plug-in hybrid energy consumption
July 15, 2015
As part of the continuing development of MAHLE’s range-extended electric vehicle (REEV) initiative (described and demonstrated at the Aachen Colloquium in 2012), the company’s Powertrain division has developed control software which can manage the consumption of battery energy for plug-in hybrids through a combination of GPS (global positioning systems) and topographical road data.
Bernie Porter, head of MAHLE’s Calibration and Controls Engineering group, said the company developed the software to use in research on its REEV test vehicle. MAHLE is investigating this powertrain technology using a range extender combustion engine and a demonstrator vehicle, both developed in house.