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.]
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.
ARPA-E holding Workshop on Powertrain Innovations for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles
April 16, 2015
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will be holding a Workshop on Powertrain Innovations for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, taking place in Denver, CO on 14-15 May 2015.
Even beyond 2030, the majority of vehicles in the US will continue to be engine-powered, either in conventional or hybrid configurations. As a result the light- and heavy-duty vehicle fleet will continue to consume about 30EJ of primary fuel energy, including substantial volumes of imported oil. Currently, each 10% improvement in vehicle fuel efficiency corresponds to a ~3% reduction in primary energy usage in the United States, with concomitant GHG emissions reductions.
Toyota beginning on-road testing of new SiC power semiconductor technology; hybrid Camry and fuel cell bus
January 29, 2015
|SiC PCU under the hood of the Camry hybrid test vehicle. Click to enlarge.|
Toyota will begin the on-road testing of silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors in Japan this year, using a Camry hybrid prototype and a fuel cell bus. The tests will evaluate the performance of the SiC technology, which could lead to significant efficiency improvements in hybrids and other electric-drive vehicles. (Earlier post.)
Power semiconductors are found in power control units (PCUs), which are used to control motor drive power in hybrids and other vehicles with electric powertrains. PCUs play a crucial role in the use of electricity, supplying battery power to the motors during operation and recharging the battery using energy recovered during deceleration. At present, power semiconductors account for approximately 20% of a vehicle’s total electrical losses; raising the efficiency of the power semiconductors is a promising way to increase powertrain efficiency.
Study finds vertical force of in-wheel switched reluctance motors deteriorates vehicle stability and comfort
January 27, 2015
In a study investigating switched reluctance motors (SRMs) for in-wheel motor applications, researchers at Chongqing University in China have found that the vertical component of the residual unbalanced radial force of the motor deteriorates the lateral and anti-rollover stabilities of the vehicle in addition to having a considerable impact on vehicle comfort. (The unbalanced radial force is the radial force difference between a pair of opposite stator poles.)
In their paper, published in the Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part D: Journal of Automobile Engineering, they suggest that a control method addressing these issues will be needed if SRMs are to see use in in-wheel applications. In an earlier paper, members of the team had proposed the use of an FxLMS (filtered-X least mean square) controller based on active suspension system to generate controllable force to suppress the vibration caused by SRM vertical force. In that paper, they found that utilizing active suspensions could reduce the effect of SRM vertical force on suspension performance.
IHS: automotive semiconductor market up 10% in 2014 to $29B; hybrids, connectivity and ADAS major drivers
January 26, 2015
The automotive semiconductor market did exceptionally well in 2014, according to new analysis from IHS. Strong growth in vehicle production together with increased semiconductor content in cars resulted in 10% growth year over year to reach $29B. IHS reported that the fastest growing segments for automotive semiconductors are hybrid-electric vehicles, telematics and connectivity and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).
The semiconductor revenue in these applications is forecast to achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR 2013–2018) of 20%, 19% and 18%t respectively. The outlook for 2015 is also promising and the automotive semiconductor market is forecast to reach $31B, a strong 7.5% improvement over 2014.
Audi showcases piloted driving version of prologue concept hybrid
January 08, 2015
|Prologue piloted driving. Click to enlarge.|
Further emphasizing its push towards production-ready piloted driving, Audi is showcasing a piloted driving version of its prologue concept hybrid—unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2014—at 2015 CES. (Earlier post.) The hybrid powertrain has a muscular 4.0 TFSI V-8 working together with a powerful e-motor. System power output of 505 kW (677 hp) and a combined torque of both engines of 950 N·m (700.7 lb‑ft) enable the Audi prologue piloted driving to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 3.5 seconds. CO2 emissions are 185 g/km (297.7 g/mi).
The piloted driving technology applied in the prologue is the same as used in the A7 Sportback piloted driving concept car that drove from San Francisco to Las Vegas for CES, said Alejandro Vukotich, Head of Development Drive Assistance Systems for Audi AG. (Earlier post.) This includes the sensors and the zFAS centralized control unit. (Earlier post.) Audi presented a prototype of the zFAS at the 2014 CES.
Ford announces Smart Mobility plan; 25 initial projects
January 06, 2015
At CES, Ford CEO Mark Fields announced “Ford Smart Mobility”—a plan to use innovation to take Ford to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data. The initial step is the creation of 25 mobility experiments across the globe designed to help change the way the world moves.
Smart Mobility builds upon Ford’s Blueprint for Mobility (earlier post). As outlined by Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford in his keynote at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Blueprint for Mobility defines the start of Ford’s thinking on what transportation will look like in 2025 and beyond, and the technologies, business models and partnerships needed to get there.
Audi selects Altera SoC FPGAs for production zFAS piloted-driving systems
January 05, 2015
Altera Corporation announced that its SoC field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) have been selected for use in Audi’s advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) for piloted driving targeted for mass production.
Altera said that Audi and Austrian high-tech company TTTech, the core-development partner for Audi’s central driver assistance control unit zFAS (zentrale Fahrerassistenzsteuergerät, earlier post), chose the Altera Cyclone V SoC FPGA for its ability to increase system performance and enable the differentiated features Audi requires for piloted driving and parking not available with application-specific standard product (ASSP) solutions.
ORNL, UT Austin team proposes optimization framework for hybrids; balancing fuel consumption, motor efficiency, battery capacity and life
December 22, 2014
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Texas at Austin have developed an optimization framework for hybrid-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs and PHEVs) including fuel consumption, motor efficiency, and battery capacity and lifetime. The approach, detailed in a paper accepted for publication in the IEEE Transactions On Control Systems Technology, is intended to enhance the understanding of the associated tradeoffs among the HEV subsystems—e.g., engine, motor, battery—and to investigate the related implications for fuel consumption and battery capacity and lifetime.
With the framework, the performance of the subsystems can be tailored according to consumer preferences, such as reducing fuel consumption or extending battery life. Further, the ability to control battery performance indices—e.g., temperature—enables operating the battery at a higher target SoC (state of charge) without incurring safety concerns. As a result, the results of such analyses could have significant implications for the related HEV and PHEV ownership and warranty costs.
Tsinghua team devises in-cycle control method for diesel LTC using detection of Start of Combustion
November 25, 2014
Low temperature combustion (LTC) refers to a broad range of in-cylinder combustion strategies for the reduction of NOx emissions from diesel combustion; NOx is formed primarily by a thermal mechanism, which production rates increasing exponentially with temperature. LTC strategies reduce combustion temperatures by the dilution of the in-cylinder combustible mixtures, either with excess charge gas to create more fuel-lean mixtures, or with moderate to high levels of EGR.
However, challenges remain in diesel low temperature combustion implementation due to combustion inconsistency or instability. To address this, a team from Tsinghua University has devised an in-cycle combustion feedback control method based on the detection of the Start of Combustion (SOC) in diesel LTC. A paper describing their method is published in the journal Applied Energy.