[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.]
Volkswagen to lead EEMBC effort on benchmarks to quantify automotive microcontroller energy efficiency
May 21, 2013
|Prototype of EEMBC’s automotive microcontroller efficiency benchmark includes test equipment from National Instruments connected to the Renesas V850E2/Fx4-L microcontroller. Click to enlarge.|
The Volkswagen Group will chair an expanded Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark Consortium (EEMBC) working group project to establish an energy-efficiency benchmark for microcontrollers aimed at making automotive end products more energy-aware and more robust.
EEMBC’s first-generation automotive benchmark suite, AutoBench, focuses on CPU processing power, measuring the time required to complete specific algorithms. Its 16 benchmark kernels include generic workload tests; basic automotive algorithms, including controller area network (CAN), tooth-to-spark (locating the engine’s cog when the spark is ignited), angle-to-time conversion, road speed calculation, and table lookup and interpolation; and signal processing algorithms.
Mercedes-Benz launches new S-Class with hybrid, diesel, gasoline models; 59 mpg PHEV model to come
May 16, 2013
|New S 400 HYBRID. Click to enlarge.|
Mercedes-Benz’s new generation flagship S-Class, introduced at an elaborate event at Airbus in Finkenwerder, marks a number of technology firsts in numerous areas from comfort, to driver control, to efficiency. As one example of the last, the new S-Class is the first car in the world to completely dispense with conventional electric bulbs, making exclusive use of energy-saving LED technology both inside and outside.
On a larger efficiency scale, the new S-Class in its first year will offer two hybrid versions, a gasoline model and a diesel variant: the S 400 HYBRID, S 300 BlueTEC HYBRID, S 500, and S 350 BlueTEC. The models offer up to 20% lower fuel consumption than the outgoing model series. These soon will be followed by the S 500 Plug-In HYBRID—the first S-Class with a fuel consumption lower than 4l/100 km (59 mpg US). All the engines already meet the requirements of the Euro-6 emissions standard.
FEV analysis of automotive-scale Pinnacle opposed-piston engine finds potential for significant increases in fuel economy
May 15, 2013
An analysis by FEV of a modeled automotive scale version of Pinnacle’s 4-stroke, spark-ignited (SI), opposed-piston, sleeve-valve architecture engine (earlier post) concluded that the engine has the potential to deliver significant additional fuel economy benefits of up to 42.6% with application of various advanced technologies over a baseline naturally aspirated (NA) 1.5L configuration of the engine.
Start-up Pinnacle initially has been targeting the Asian two-wheeler market with a small-displacement version of its technology (e.e., 110 cc) to gain some market traction rather than trying to push its way into the automotive market. Automotive, however, has always been a company target, notes founder Monty Cleeves. FEV is also supporting Pinnacle on those initial versions of the engine.
GM recalling certain eAssist models; up to 42,904 vehicles potentially affected by GCM issue
May 06, 2013
General Motors (GM) is recalling certain model year 2012 and 2013 Buick LaCrosse and Regal, and model year 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco vehicles equipped with the eAssist light electrification system. (Earlier post.) Some of these vehicles have a condition in which the Generator Control Module (GCM) may not function properly. This could cause a gradual loss of battery charge and the illumination of the malfunction indicator light, GM said in its notice to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
If these warnings are ignored, eventually the engine may stall and/or the vehicle may not start. In addition, there may be a burning or melting odor, smoke, and possibly a fire in the trunk. Potentially up to 42,904 MY 2012 and MY2013 vehicles may be affected.
2014 Sprinter van for US standard with new 2.1L diesel; new driver assistance features
|2014 Sprinter. Click to enlarge.|
The new MY2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van for the US now features a 2.1L, 4-cylinder diesel with a t-speed automatic transmission as standard. The familiar V6 diesel is available as an option.
Since 2010, all Sprinters in the US have been powered by BlueTEC diesel engines, marking the first use of BlueTEC technology, with its selective catalytic reduction (SCR) exhaust aftertreatment system, in the commercial van market here. The 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel engine produces 161 hp (120 kW) and 265 lb-ft (359 N·m) of torque at 1,400-2,400 rpm.
New Porsche 911 Turbo improves fuel economy by 16%
May 03, 2013
The new generation Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S, equipped with new advanced engines, PDK transmission, new combined thermal management system for the turbo engine and the transmission, the new Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel drive system, and other fuel efficiency technologies such as start/stop and active aerodynamics, have reduced NEDC fuel consumption by up to 16% to 9.7 l/100 km (24.3 mpg US); these figures apply to both models. Final US EPA label values will be calculated closer to the time the car is on sale in the United States.
The bi-turbocharged 3.8-liter flat 6-cylinder engine with direct gasoline injection produces 520 hp (383 kW) in the 911 Turbo and 560 hp (412 kW) in the S model. Porsche continues to be the only carmaker to offer two turbochargers with variable turbine geometry for a gasoline engine. Power is transferred to the drivetrain via the seven-speed dual clutch transmission (PDK), which now enables an auto start/stop function with engine shutoff that now activates earlier during coasting to a stop as well as a coasting function.
Renault adapts F1 KERS system for electric Twizy F1 Sport Concept
April 26, 2013
|The Twizy Renault Sport F1 concept. Click to enlarge.|
Renault engineers have built an “F1” concept version of the Twizy EV featuring a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) based on the solution used by Renault-powered Formula 1 race cars.
Twizy Renault Sport F1 is consequently equipped with two electric motors—i.e. the original motor (17 hp/13 kW) onto which the F1-style KERS with its own motor has been grafted. When the KERS is activated, Twizy Renault Sport F1’s power output climbs instantly by a factor of six, from 17 to 97 horsepower (72 kW). This boost is available for approximately 14 seconds, just as it is in the case of a Formula 1 car. Thanks to this additional power, the concept car is capable of accelerating from standstill to 100 km/h in the same time as Mégane R.S.
Ford and Schaeffler demonstrate Fiesta-based e-WheelDrive car; follow-up research project in the works
|Fiesta eWheelDrive. Click to enlarge.|
At Ford’s Lommel Proving Ground in Belgium, Ford Motor Company and Schaeffler demonstrated the Fiesta-based eWheelDrive car. (Earlier post.) Powered by independent electric motors in each of the rear wheels, eWheelDrive technology could lead to improvements in urban mobility and parking by enabling smaller, more agile cars, Ford said.
This technology could in the future support the development of a four-person car that only occupies the space of a two-person car today. At the same time, eWheelDrive steering system designs could enable vehicles to move sideways into parking spaces—a boon as cities become more populated and congested. Ford said it will work with Schaeffler and other partners on a follow-up research project, including producing two more drivable vehicles by 2015.
Volvo Cars’ tests of flywheel technology confirm fuel savings of up to 25%
April 25, 2013
|Volvo Car’s flywheel KERS system. Click to enlarge.|
Results of Volvo Car Group’s testing of kinetic flywheel technology on public roads during 2012 show that the flywheel technology combined with a four-cylinder turbo engine has the potential to reduce fuel consumption by up to 25% compared with a six-cylinder turbo engine at a comparable performance level, according to Derek Crabb, Vice President Powertrain Engineering at Volvo Car Group. (Earlier post.)
If the energy in the flywheel is combined with the combustion engine’s full capacity, it will give the car an extra 80 horsepower. Combined with the swift torque build-up, this translates into rapid acceleration, cutting 0 to 100 km/h figures by seconds. The experimental car, a Volvo S60, accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds.
ALABC and CPT to introduce 48V LC Super Hybrid demonstrator at Vienna Motor Symposium
April 24, 2013
|12V and 48V LC Super Hybrid technology demonstrators. Click to enlarge.|
The Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC) and Controlled Power Technologies (CPT) will introduce a low-carbon 48 volt LC Super Hybrid technology demonstrator at the International Vienna Motor Symposium this week. The 48V LC Super Hybrid aims to demonstrate CO2 emissions of 120 g/km, combined with 0 to 100 km/h acceleration in less than nine seconds, in a family-sized sedan.
Employing cost-effective low-voltage micro-mild hybrid technology, the LC Super Hybrid, which is based on a 1.4-liter VW Passat, will make its global debut at the 34th annual powertrain conference. The 48-volt version of the LC Super Hybrid complements the existing 12 volt technology demonstrator unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 2012. (Earlier post.)
SAE CRP1234-4 analysis of R-1234yf nears completion; finding refrigerant safe and effective in automotive applications
April 23, 2013
The SAE International Cooperative Research Project (CRP1234-4) team, formed last year to perform an updated engineering safety analysis of the low global warming potential (GWP) R-1234yf refrigerant (earlier post), met during the SAE World Congress in Detroit. The team includes European, North American and Asian OEMs including Chrysler/Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, PSA, Renault and Toyota.
The SAE CRP has carefully evaluated the extensive testing conducted by its members. The fault tree analysis was subsequently updated with regard to actual collision scenarios and is now complete pending final review.
Volvo upgrades C30 Electric with more powerful motor and 22 kW fast charger
|The new 22 kW fast charger supports a full pack charge in 1.5 hours. Click to enlarge.|
Beginning this summer, European leasing customers will drive and evaluate an upgraded demo fleet of 100 Volvo C30 battery electric cars that feature a new, more powerful motor from Siemens and a new 22 kW on-board flexible fast-charger from BRUSA.
The new Siemens motor for the generation II C30 has a peak power output of 89 kW (120 hp) and a torque of 250 N·m (184 N·m), enabling acceleration from 0-70 km/h (0-43 mph) in 5.9 seconds and 0-100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in 10.7 seconds. The motor in the first generation C30 EV delivered 83 kW (111 hp) and 220 N·m (162 lb-ft).
ZF’s decoupleable all-wheel drive system for cars delivers up to 5% reduction in fuel consumption compared to conventional AWD
April 22, 2013
|Simulation of CO2savings using ECOnnect decoupleable AWD system. Source: ZF. Click to enlarge.|
ZF has developed an all-wheel drive system for front-transverse installation in passenger cars that, through an automatic decoupling function, can reduce fuel consumption by up to 5% in comparison with conventional all-wheel drives, according to the company. Additionally, the front-transverse architecture allows for a combination with the new ZF 9-speed automatic transmission. ZF showed the ECOnnect system, first presented at a technical workshop in October last year, at the 2013 SAE World Congress.
Currently, vehicles with classic, controllable all-wheel drive (AWD) do not have better fuel economy than vehicles with permanent all-wheel drive; even when the second axle is trailing, the driveline is active, which causes spilling and friction losses.
FEV’s two-stage VCR system; 5-7% increase in fuel economy using variable length conrods
|Working principle of FEV’s two-stage VCR system. Click to enlarge.|
Use of a variable compression ratio (VCR) could be one technology approach to reducing fuel consumption in highly boosted (e.g., downsized, turbocharged) gasoline engine, as operating an engine with higher compression ratios at low load can increase fuel economy compared to operating an engine with fixed compression ratio.
At SAE World Congress 2013, engineers at FEV reported on their progress on a two-stage variable compression ratio (VCR) system based on a variable length conrod with eccentric piston pin suspension. The small end of the connecting rod in the FEV systemis equipped with an eccentric sleeve housing the wrist pin. By rotating the eccentric sleeve, the effective connecting rod length, and thus the compression ratio, can be varied. (Diagram at right.)
Linamar introduces Agilit-e rear axle hybrid power unit for OEMs; FWD Cadillac SRX converted to AWD plug-in hybrid as demo
April 18, 2013
|The Linamar Agilit-e unit contains the two motors, gears, power electronics, and cooling. The ECU, which is discrete in this first demo application, will be subsequently integrated into the main unit. Click to enlarge.|
Global automotive supplier Linamar Corporation has developed a fully-integrated, compact, modular and scalable twin-motor bolt-on rear axle unit to enable hybrid all-wheel drive applications: the Agilit-e Hybrid Power Unit. The company presented the unit, applied in a conventional front-wheel drive Cadillac SRX now converted to an AWD plug-in hybrid, at the 2013 SAE World Congress in Detroit.
The demonstration unit features twin independent 75 kW motors (150 kW total output), each coupled with a single-speed reduction gear (8.4 ratio), which is bolted to its respective half shaft. Coupled with a 330V, 9 kWh Li-ion battery pack in the SRX, the system enables an all-electric range of up to 30 km (18.6 miles) with a maximum all-electric speed of 130 km/h (81 mph).
IEA: carbon intensity of global energy supply has barely changed in last 20 years; “window of opportunity in transport”
|The ESCII, along with projections for three scenarios. To meet 2DS targets, the index needs to decline by 5.7% by 2020, and 64% by 2050. Source: IEA. Click to enlarge.|
In a fairly bleak assessment of global progress towards low-carbon energy, the International Energy Agency (IEA) concluded that, despite a few bright spots such as the rapid expansion of renewable technologies and the growth of hybrid and EV sales, the progress is far below that required to achieve a 2 °C pathway—i.e., to hold warming to 2 °C as outlined in the IEA Energy Technology Perspectives 2012 (ETP) 2 °C Scenario (2DS). The assessment came in an annual report to the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM).
To illustrate this inertia, the report, Tracking Clean Energy Progress, introduced the Energy Sector Carbon Intensity Index (ESCII), which shows how much carbon dioxide is emitted, on average, to provide a given unit of energy. The global energy supply became 6% cleaner from 1971 to 1990,in response to the oil shocks of the 1970s. Since 1990, however, the ESCII (2010 = 100) has remained essentially static, changing by less than 1%. In 1990 the underlying carbon intensity of supply was 57.1 tCO2/TJ (2.39 tCO2/toe); in 2010 it was 56.7 tCO2/TJ (2.37 tCO2/toe).
Intelligent Energy, Dyson, Ricardo and TRW Conekt boost fuel cell system power density more than 30%; reliable cold-start down to -20 °C
April 16, 2013
A project, 50% funded by the UK’s Technology Strategy Board and led by power technology company Intelligent Energy, has demonstrated an increase in fuel cell system power density of more than 30% together with reliable cold-start performance at temperatures down to -20 °C.
The project team delivered an improvement in power output from 30kW to 40kW for the chosen test system without increasing system mass or size. Additionally, through the introduction of a new coolant module developed specifically for the project, cold start performance was consistently achieved at temperatures down to -20°C.
Delphi advancing Gasoline Direct-Injection Compression-Ignition engine concept; new two-stage supercharger/turbocharger boost system
April 12, 2013
At SAE World Congress next week in Detroit, Delphi Automotive will present two technical papers describing its ongoing progress with the Gasoline Direct-Injection Compression-Ignition (GDCI) engine concept. (Earlier post.)
GDCI is an advanced low-temperature combustion concept that uses compression ignition under lean to near stoichiometric fueling conditions over the complete engine operating range. Previous studies of GDCI have shown good potential for very high efficiency, low NOx, and low PM over the full speed-load range. GDCI achieves low-temperature combustion using multiple-late injection (MLI), intake boost, and cooled EGR.
LaunchPoint completing SBIR project on electromechanical valve actuator for fully variable valve system
April 09, 2013
|Concept of valve implementation on 4-cylinder head. Source: LaunchPoint. Click to enlarge.|
LaunchPoint Technologies, Inc. is completing Phase II of a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant (IIP-1058556) from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to design and test a novel electromechanical valve actuator designed specifically to control a low-cost, high efficiency valve actuation system that achieves fully variable control over the duration and phase of an engine’s intake valve.
Phase I of the project (NSF SBIR Award No. IIP-0945595) demonstrated a compact, linear-motion actuator capable of driving a typical engine valve. LaunchPoint designed and tested a prototype actuator using the magnetic spring technology originally developed for a high-speed switching mechanism in a space application (US Patent 7,265,470).
Sendyne IC achieves ten-fold increase in dynamic range of current measurement; targeted for EVs and grid applications
Sendyne Corp., a company that develops semiconductor components and advanced circuits for the management of battery systems used for grid storage and EVs, has introduced the SFP100, a high-precision current sensing IC, that extends by at least an order of magnitude the range of accurate measurements of current through a resistive shunt. The Sendyne SFP100 was designed to address the unique requirements of battery monitoring in energy storage systems, such as those used for electric vehicles (EVs), grid storage and photovoltaic arrays, where large variations of current need to be monitored accurately.
Sendyne’s SFP100 is a high precision sensing IC that simultaneously measures bi-directional DC current through a resistive shunt, voltage, and temperature at four points using two 24-bit ΣΔ ADCs. Qualified to AECQ100, the SFP100 is rated for the automotive temperature range of –40 °C to +125 °C.
NXP and Cohda Wireless Sign CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium memorandum of understanding; RoadLINK units
April 04, 2013
NXP Semiconductors N.V. and Cohda Wireless have signed the CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). (Earlier post.) The memorandum aims at implementing and deploying harmonized technology for the wireless communication between cars, or between cars and traffic infrastructure, in Europe. NXP and Cohda, a leading specialist in wireless communication for automotive safety applications, are the first automotive electronics suppliers to sign the MoU, following twelve major car manufacturers in October 2012.
In addition, NXP and Cohda have announced the introduction of RoadLINK as their new technology brand for marketing a total Car-to-X (C2X) communication and security solution for on-board units and road-side units in Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). Automotive-ready modules based on RoadLINK are currently being developed by companies including lesswire AG in Germany.
Freescale introduces new automotive microcontrollers; streamlining body electronics networks and reducing vehicle weight
March 19, 2013
At Electronica China in Shanghai, Freescale Semiconductor introduced a new Qorivva vehicle body gateway network microcontroller (MCU) and two new S12 MagniV end-node devices to address increasing requirements for higher bandiwdth automotive networks, improved data security, increased functional safety and reduction of overall energy consumption.
As the number of electronic control units in a vehicle grows (up to 100 ECUs, requiring some 10 million lines of code, said Brad Loane, Freescale product manager) the amount of connectivity needed also increases. The average vehicle now includes several miles of copper wire—weighing up to 150 lbs (68 kg) or more—for in-vehicle networking. Integrating more functionality within the vehicle’s main ECUs and increasing the intelligence of its satellite nodes (i.e. modules in doors or electric motors) can help reduce the number of ECUs and the amount of associated wiring required, eliminating weight in the vehicle wiring harness and helping improve vehicle fuel economy.
DOE to award more than $50M for new plug-in vehicle technology research projects
March 09, 2013
The US DOE has released the final version of a new funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0000793) that will award more than $50 million in funding for new projects intended to accelerate the development of advanced plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) technologies to increase vehicle fuel economy and improve performance. DOE had earlier requested public comment on a draft of the solicitation. (Earlier post.) The FOA supports the President’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge. (Earlier post.)
DOE will select new research projects—an anticipated minimum of 30 and maximum of 50—that focus on lowering the cost and increasing the efficiency of PEV components, as well as the development of models and tools to predict these vehicles' performance and help improve fuel economy. The Department will fund projects across five major areas of research and development that cover 12 areas of interest (AOIs), including:
Volkswagen to use CO2 as refrigerant for future air conditioning systems
March 08, 2013
The Volkswagen Group announced that it is choosing CO2 as the future low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant for its mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems. The announcement follows press reports from the Geneva Motor Show that Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen would pursue CO2 (R744) as the refrigerant for MACs instead of R-1234yf (developed by Honeywell and DuPont). (Earlier post.)
Volkswagen said it would roll out CO2 MAC systems progressively over its entire vehicle fleet. With a GWP (Global Warming Potential) value of 1, R744 is 99.3% below the EU’s now-specified GWP limit of 150 for MAC systems. R134a, the current widespread MAC refrigerant, has a GWP of 1,300, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Subaru VIZIV diesel plug-in hybrid concept debuts at Geneva; independent-rear-motor-driven symmetrical AWD
March 06, 2013
|VIZIV Concept. Click to enlarge.|
Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), the manufacturer of Subaru automobiles, introduced the VIZIV (“Vision for Innovation”) hybrid crossover concept at the Geneva Motor Show.
The powertrain is a plug-in hybrid system that combines a 2.0-liter Subaru Boxer diesel engine and high-torque-compatible Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a single front motor that provides both vehicle drive and power generation, and two independent rear motors for vehicle drive only. The 100% motor-driven rear wheels eliminate the need for a propeller shaft, creating a lower floor that offers ample legroom for rear seat occupants despite its compact size.
Continental and BMW Group working together to develop freeway-grade highly automated driving
February 27, 2013
Continental and the BMW Group are pooling their development capacities to define the long-term prerequisites for series introduction of highly automated driving on European freeways. In January 2013, the two companies signed an agreement to jointly develop an electronic co-pilot for this purpose. The overarching aim of the research partnership is to pave the way to highly automated driving functions beyond the year 2020.
Continental is a leading suppliers of advanced driver assistance systems; the development of products and systems for automated driving is one of the central themes of its long-term technology strategy. (Earlier post.)
GM announces broad global strategy for embedded 4G LTE; first rollout in 2014 with MY2015 vehicles; AT&T first carrier partner
February 25, 2013
|The demo screen of a research Cadillac ATS equipped with 4G LTE connectivity, first shown at the 2013 Mobile World Congress. Click to enlarge.|
At the 2013 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, General Motors announced a broad global strategy to deliver a new generation of connected cars and trucks with embedded 4G LTE mobile broadband, the largest announced deployment of the technology in the automotive industry to date.
Most MY2015 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models available in 2014 in the US and Canada will be the first GM cars, trucks and crossovers with embedded 4G LTE; connectivity will be delivered through AT&T. GM will announce more carrier and supplier relationships in coming months to expand 4G LTE capabilities in markets around the globe. (In January, Audi unveiled the 2013 Audi A3 with 4G LTE wireless connectivity, and will be offering a fully integrated LTE link for Audi connect services in the A3 this year. Earlier post.)
Deutsche Telekom and IBM to integrate Machine-to-Machine communication and Smarter Cities data analysis technology for enhanced city services
February 23, 2013
Deutsche Telekom and IBM are collaborating to provide an integrated solutions portfolio that enables cities to make smarter use of their services through intelligent data capture and analysis. The Smarter Cities solutions will build on IBM’s Smarter Cities expertise (earlier post) and “big data” analysis capabilities combined with Deutsche Telekom’s global Machine-to-Machine (M2M) capabilities, which include M2M solutions integration and advanced network connectivity.
M2M communication technology facilitates the automated exchange of information between terminal equipment such as machines, vehicles and containers or with a central control center—i.e., an “Internet of Things.” By using sensors embedded in a wide array of systems serving the public—such as a traffic lights, public transport vehicles or parking spaces—M2M technology can report on the status of the system being monitored via the Internet in real-time.
Volvo Trucks introduces dynamic steering system combining hydraulic power steering with electric motor
February 19, 2013
|Volvo Dynamic Steering. Click to enlarge.|
Volvo Trucks is introducing Volvo Dynamic Steering, which combines conventional hydraulic power-steering with an electronically-regulated electric motor fitted to the steering gear. The result is precise steering that gives a truck driver a safer and more comfortable working environment.
An electronically-controlled electric motor attached to the steering shaft is the technological innovation in Volvo Dynamic Steering. The electric motor, which works together with the truck’s hydraulic power steering, has a maximum of 25 N·m (18 lb-ft) of torque and is regulated thousands of times per second by the electronic control unit.
New GPS/IMU fusion system improves the precision of GPS in vehicles in cities by up to 90%; implications for connected vehicles, autonomy and ITS
February 12, 2013
|Integration of GNSS (GPS) antenna of rover receiver and IMU in a platform over the roof of the test vehicle. Source: Martí et al.Click to enlarge.|
Researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) have developed a new system which improves the ability of a GPS to determine a vehicle’s position as compared to that of conventional GPS devices by up to 90%, and which can be installed in any vehicle at a very low cost. Future applications that will benefit from the technology will include cooperative driving, automatic maneuvers for the safety of pedestrians, autonomous vehicles or cooperative collision warning systems, the scientists noted.
The system is a fusion of a GPS (or GNSS, Global Navigation Satellite System) and an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) integrating three accelerometers and three gyroscopes, based on a context-aided Unscented Kalman filter for navigation in urban conditions. The GPS/IMU system was jointly developed by the Applied Artificial Intelligence Group (GIAA – Grupo de Inteligencia Aplicada Artificial) and the Systems Intelligence Laboratory (LSI – Laboratorio de Sistemas Inteligentes) at UC3M.
SAE CRP: growing high level of confidence that R1234yf can be used safely; “disappointment” with departure of Daimler, BMW and Audi
February 11, 2013
The SAE International Cooperative Research Project (CRP1234-4) team, formed last year to review relevant research and testing to finalize the risk assessment of the use of the low global warming potential R1234yf in mobile air conditioning systems (earlier post), met face-to-face during the week of 4 February 2013. SAE reported that as the CRP team continues to review relevant research and testing to finalize the risk assessment, the high level of confidence that R1234yf can be used safely in automotive applications continues to grow.
This review—the fourth such—was launched in October 2012 after Daimler in September announced that findings from its internal investigations raised questions on the safe usage of R-1234yf as a replacement refrigerant in mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems and said that it would not use this chemical in its products. (Earlier post.)
Panasonic develops 12V NiMH energy recovery system for start-stop vehicles; aims to double fuel economy improvement rate of start-stop systems
February 08, 2013
|Concept of the 12V Energy Recovery System for start-stop. Click to enlarge.|
Panasonic Corporation has developed a NiMH-based 12V Energy Recovery System for start-stop systems in vehicles. This system allows the energy generated during braking to be stored in the batteries and use the stored energy to power the vehicle’s electrical components, thus ensuring power availability even when the engine is not being used. The system is also designed to supply power to the drive assist motor, improving fuel economy.
With this 12V Energy Recovery System, Panasonic aims to approximately double the fuel economy improvement rate of existing start-stop systems over conventional gasoline-engine vehicles.
AC Kinetics to showcase next-generation motor control software at ARPA-E Summit; 10-40% reduction in energy consumption and improved performance
February 05, 2013
Motor control company AC Kinetics, Inc. will introduce its next-generation motor control technology at the upcoming ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C., 25-27 February. AC Kinetics was selected as a Semi-Finalist in the Future Energy Pitching Event at the Summit.
The advanced AC Kinetics software (ACKS), supported by real-time adaptive algorithms, runs on standard drive hardware for motorized equipment in the consumer, industrial, and transportation markets. The drive software controls the motor to optimally generate torque on demand in a maximally efficient manner.
DOE seeking comment on draft $50M solicitation for new projects over 11 areas of interest to improve vehicle performance and decrease fuel consumption
February 02, 2013
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Vehicle Technology Program is seeking public comment on the draft of an upcoming solicitation (DE-FOA-0000793) totaling more than $50 million for new research projects that will develop advanced technologies to improve vehicle performance and increase fuel economy. As part of the Advanced Vehicle Power Technology Alliance between DOE and the Department of the Army, the Army plans to contribute $3.5 million in co-funding for several areas where there are joint development opportunities. The FOA supports the President’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge. (Earlier post.)
DOE will release the final version after a period of public comment and revision. The FOA contains a total of 11 areas of interest (AOIs) in the general areas of advanced lightweighting and propulsion materials; advanced battery development; power electronics; advanced heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems; and fuels and lubricants. Specific AOIs are:
CRC study finds that fuel systems in some modern vehicles fail with E15 use
January 30, 2013
A newly completed study (CRC Project No. AVFL-15a) by the Coordinating Research Council, a non-profit organization created and supported by the petroleum and auto industries, has found that some fuel systems in modern vehicles survive testing in mid-blend ethanol fuels, while others will experience complete failures that would prevent operation.
The fuel pumps and level senders that failed or exhibited other effects during testing on E15 and E15a are used on a substantial number of the 29 million 2001 – 2007 model year vehicles represented by the components evaluated in the report.
Volkswagen introduces new 4WD Golf 4MOTION with 5th generation Haldex coupling; 15% reduction in fuel consumption over current model
January 29, 2013
|Fifth-generation Haldex coupling in the Golf 4MOTION. Click to enlarge.|
Volkswagen is expanding the new Golf range with versions with 4MOTION all-wheel drive. In this latest version of the Golf 4MOTION, Volkswagen is using a four-wheel drive system with an enhanced, fifth-generation Haldex coupling.
Volkswagen is offering the new Golf 4MOTION in Europe in three levels (Trendline, Comfortline, Highline) and with two turbo diesel engines. The Golf 1.6 TDI 4MOTION BlueMotion Technology delivers 77 kW/105 PS and consumes 4.5 liters per 100km (52.3 mpg US). The Golf 2.0 TDI 4MOTION BlueMotion Technology delivers 110 kW / 150 PS with fuel consumption of 4.7 liters per 100km (50 mpg US). The new model consumes 0.8 liters or 15% less fuel than the current Golf 4MOTION delivering 150 PS.
Schaeffler presents Efficient Future Mobility North America concept vehicle; cost-effective reductions in fuel consumption
January 14, 2013
|Technologies and contributions to reduced fuel consumption in Efficient Future Mobility North America. Click to enlarge.|
Schaeffler presented a new concept vehicle at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The Efficient Future Mobility North America vehicle is based on a mid-size SUV and highlights a range of Schaeffler solutions for optimizing North American internal combustion engine drive trains. All of the technologies are cost-effective, close to volume production and, when integrated into an all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicle, offer a potential combined fuel consumption savings of up to 15%.
The Schaeffler demonstration vehicle was developed in North America. The project is structured in two phases, said Jeff Hemphill, CTO of Schaeffler North America. Phase one is intended to fulfill CAFE requirements for the year 2020. The second phase will see the addition of hybrid systems with the aim of fulfilling the requirements for the year 2025.
Continental acquires ASL Vision for 360-degree surround view technology
January 11, 2013
|360-degree surround detection optimally detects the entire vehicle surrounding and helps to safely master complex traffic situations. Source: Continental. Click to enlarge.|
International automotive supplier Continental has acquired ASL Vision, a provider of embedded video image processing and transmission solutions based in Lewes, England. ASL has developed the ASL360 Surround View camera system—a multi-camera system that processes video from multiple ultra-wide-angle cameras in a single, high performance Electronic Control Unit (ECU). The companies agreed not to disclose the price for the acquisition.
With the acquisition, Continental is adding “a strategically important building block”, 360-degree surround detection, while at the same time further developing its competence in the camera sector in a targeted way, said Friedrich Angerbauer, Head of the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) Business Unit in the Continental Chassis & Safety Division. Continental is a leading suppliers of advanced driver assistance systems; the development of products and systems for automated driving is one of the central themes of its long-term technology strategy. (Earlier post.)
Ford, GM rolling out third-party developer programs for in-vehicle apps
January 08, 2013
Reflecting the rapid evolution of the automobile as an application development platform, both Ford and GM announced programs to support third-party development of in-vehicle applications at CES in Las Vegas. The Ford Developer Program for open mobile apps provides a software development kit (SDK), technical support from Ford engineers and a developer community to enable utilizing the SYNC connectivity system and AppLink application programming interface (API).
General Motors announced its flexible application framework that will allow drivers to add apps and features to their vehicles after the initial purchase. The framework enables new set of vehicle APIs for developers, allowing them to interact with and build upon the infotainment systems in GM vehicles.
Sensor fusion, machine learning, and “big data” featuring in Ford R&D for advanced driver assistance
December 22, 2012
At Ford, Paul Mascarenas, vice president and chief technical officer, has been leading the team researching and developing new technologies for Ford vehicles, particularly in the area of driver assistance and mobile device connectivity. Mascarenas points to the new Fusion sedan as an example of “making the car smarter using attainable and affordable technology and thus helping create a better driver.”
However, he suggests, despite the “unprecedented” level of sensors for its driver assist technologies, machine learning techniques to deliver more electric-only driving on the hybrids, and innovative graphical interfaces to help coach drivers to be as fuel efficient as possible, the Fusion is only scratching the surface of what is possible.
VisLab: 3D computer vision for autonomous driving
December 20, 2012
by Bill Cooke
|VisLab 3D modeled view (foreground), bird’s-eye view (right) and photograph of scenario (back). Click to enlarge.|
As inventors across the world work to make autonomous driving a reality, one of the most basic problems is for the vehicle to perceive its surroundings. Google’s vehicles rely on a lidar (laser radar) system. Dr. Alberto Broggi of the University of Parma and a spinoff company, VisLab, in Northern Italy believes 3D computer vision is an affordable and aesthetically acceptable way to capture much of the same data.
A pioneer of machine vision applied to driverless cars and unmanned vehicles, Dr. Broggi is the principal investigator of multiple projects involving autonomous vehicles, such as the ARGO prototype vehicle, the TerraMax entry at the DARPA Grand Challenge and Urban Challenge, and BRAiVE. Under his leadership VisLab organized the first intercontinental driverless trip in history: VIAC - VisLab Intercontinental Autonomous Challenge. VisLab is involved in basic and applied research, developing machine vision algorithms and intelligent systems for different applications, primarily for the automotive field.
Continental focusing on automated driving as key long-term technology strategy; receives approval to test automated vehicles on Nevada roads
|Vehicle automation is set to be rolled out in stages, starting with partially automated driving from 2016; high levels of automation from 2020; and fully automated systems available from 2025. Click to enlarge.|
The development of products and systems for automated driving is one of the central themes of international automotive supplier Continental’s long-term technology strategy. The Continental Executive Board’s strategic and budget planning for the coming year includes all of the necessary elements that need to be implemented step-by-step across the board so that fully-automated driving becomes reality by 2025, said Dr. Elmar Degenhart, Chairman of the Executive Board of Continental, after the end of the company’s recent Strategy Workshop.
As a reflection of this focus, Continental has just received approval from the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to test autonomous vehicles on the state’s public roads. Continental’s testing license is for the company’s highly automated vehicle, and represents the first license granted by the Nevada DMV to an automotive supplier.
Mercedes-Benz to offer new generation of 4MATIC all-wheel drive system next year integrated with 7G-DCT transmission; lighter and more efficient
December 18, 2012
|Elements of the new 4MATIC. Click to enlarge.|
Starting next year, Mercedes-Benz will offer a new generation of the 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive system with fully variable torque distribution. This completely new development is based on the front-wheel drive architecture with transversely mounted engines.
The most innovative components of the new 4MATIC include the power take-off to the rear axle which is integrated in the 7G-DCT automated dual clutch transmission and the rear-axle gear unit with integrated, electrohydraulically controlled multi-disc clutch. This set-up enables fully variable distribution of the drive torque between front and rear axle. Additional benefits of this design are a lower system weight than is available from the competition and high efficiency. Similarly to the front-wheel drive versions, all 4MATIC models also boast good energy efficiency.
DARPA awards up to $20M to NVIDIA to research high-performance, highly energy-efficient embedded processors for autonomous vehicles
December 17, 2012
|DARPA is seeking a major increase in performance per watt for embedded processors. Source: DARPA. Click to enlarge.|
The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) NVIDIA has awarded NVIDIA a contract worth up to $20 million to research embedded processor technologies that could lead to significant improvements in the ability of autonomous vehicles to collect and process data from on-board sensors.
The five-year contract, awarded under DARPA’s Power Efficiency Revolution For Embedded Computing Technologies (PERFECT) program, will fund research for processors that are 75-times more energy-efficient than current embedded solutions. The goal is to enable surveillance and computer vision systems in ground and airborne vehicles to collect and analyze vastly more data than can be processed today in real time.
SAE project update on R-1234yf refrigerant
December 14, 2012
The SAE International Cooperative Research Project (CRP1234-4) team was recently established to perform an updated engineering review—the fourth such—of usage of the low global warming potential (GWP) R-1234yf refrigerant in vehicles. (Earlier post.) The group has been regularly meeting to review and share test information completed since the close of the original CRP1234-3 in 2009. The previous study concluded that R-1234yf is a safe and acceptable alternative refrigerant for mobile air conditioning systems that can be used to meet new environmental and consumer needs. (Earlier post.)
The new CRP team began by conducting a detailed review of the original Fault Tree Analysis (FTA) and chose to expand the trees to ensure that newly-identified information and testing from each of the OEMs is incorporated. This study has highlighted concerns with relying on one test to be reflective of real world collisions across vehicle applications.
Delphi and University of Luxembourg SnT partner on joint research on electronic control systems for automotive
December 07, 2012
Leading global automotive supplier Delphi and the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) of the University of Luxembourg have signed a four-year agreement to cooperate on a joint research program involving electronic control systems for automotive applications.
This is the first cooperation between Delphi and the SnT. The program, entitled Cost-Effective Automated Testing of ECU-Software, initially includes two research projects: embedded software testing (model-based testing of Electronic Control Modules software); and embedded software safety (early verification of performance and timing properties of automotive software systems).
Autotalks introduces first VLSI for vehicle-to-vehicle communication
Autotalks, a fabless semiconductor company developing a novel solution for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, recently released the first VLSI (very large scale integration) chip for vehicle-to-vehicle communication.
Dubbed “CRATON”, the VLSI is the result of several years of working closely with leading OEMs and Tier 1s, and was developed based on the performance and quality requirements of vehicle-to-vehicle communication safety applications. Autotalks showcased CRATON at the 19th ITS World Congress, Vienna.
New Lacks eVOLVE hybrid wheel technology shows 1.1 mpg highway gain in fuel efficiency on Ford Focus
December 03, 2012
|Design of the eVOLVE wheel. Click to enlarge.|
Lacks Wheel Trim Systems LLC, a business unit of Lacks Enterprises, Inc., a global supplier of trim systems to the automotive industry, introduced its new patented eVOLVE hybrid composite wheel technology, based on Lacks’ Chromtec wheel technology, at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Hybrid-composite eVOLVE wheels developed for the Ford Focus as an initial proof of design showed a fuel economy improvement of 1.1 miles per gallon highway by balancing weight reduction and optimizing aerodynamics. As a comparison, the Focus production wheel BM5J-1007-DB (17x7x50) weighs 23.7 lbs (10.75 kg); the eVOLVE wheel (17x7x50) weighs 19.2 lbs (8.7 kg). Use of the eVOLVE wheels showed a 0.4 mpg improvement on the city cycle.
Efficient Drivetrains launches inline, triple-function, plug-in vehicle drivetrain; announcement on commercial contract coming
December 01, 2012
Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. (EDI), a developer of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) systems and continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) co-founded by Professor Andy Frank from UC Davis (a key figure in the development of the PHEV concept and technology) in 2006, has completed the development and initial functional testing of an inline Parallel-Series-Electric powertrain system that it says is less complex, more efficient, less costly, and lighter than the competition.
The new EDI drivetrain, which incorporates components from GM, A123 Systems, and UQM, was integrated into a light-duty GM pickup truck to create the demonstrator vehicle. The drivetrain, which is scalable to light-, medium-, and heavy-duty applications, utilizes no power split gears and features special clutching systems.
Mazda to offer diesel Mazda6 in North America in second half of 2013; i-ELOOP and SCBS
November 29, 2012
|System components of i-ELOOP, which makes its first production appearance on the Mazda6. Click to enlarge.|
The 2014 Mazda6 sedan made its North American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The first version, equipped with a SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter gasoline engine, goes on sale in January. The SKYACTIV-D-equipped diesel version will follow in the second half of the year, making Mazda the first Asian manufacturer to offer a modern-technology clean-diesel engine in a non-commercial vehicle in North America.
The 2014 Mazda6 also will be the first production vehicle to feature Mazda’s capacitor-based brake energy regeneration system called i-ELOOP, featuring a new 25V variable voltage alternator.
Chevy Spark and Sonic first to offer Eyes Free mode integration with Apple’s Siri
November 27, 2012
Early next year, the Chevrolet Spark (1LT, 2LT) and Sonic LTZ and RS will integrate Apple’s Siri “Eyes Free” voice recognition technology; GM is the first automaker to implement the technology in production vehicles.
Apple had announced in June that it was working with automakers to integrate Siri (which officially still is in Beta) into select voice control systems. Through the cars’ standard Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system, customers with a compatible iPhone running iOS 6 can direct Siri to perform a number of tasks while they keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.
Westport introduces advanced LNG tank system for natural gas trucks; unsaturated LNG for large SI engines
November 26, 2012
Westport Innovations Inc. is introducing a new on-board liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage solution that supports the use of cold (unsaturated) LNG fuel for large SI-engine vehicles that would have earlier required warm (saturated) LNG. By carrying fuel as cold LNG, the Westport LNG Tank System can increase fuel storage times and improve vehicle range by up to 10%.
There are two standards for dispensing LNG: saturated (“green” or “warm”) LNG (8 bar and ‐130 °C) or unsaturated (“blue” or “cold”) LNG (3 bar and ‐150 °C). Each type of LNG fuel is optimized for a different engine technology; saturated LNG, with its warmer temperature, creates a vapor pressure in the tank that helps deliver fuel to the engine.
Toyota Motor introducing three new automated driver assistance safety systems; begins operations at new ITS Proving Ground
November 12, 2012
|TMC says that its PCS is effective at higher speeds. Click to enlarge.|
Toyota Motor Corporation has developed and will deploy in select upcoming vehicles three new automated driver assistance/safety systems: a Pre-Collision System (PCS) with collision avoidance that is effective at higher speeds; Intelligent Clearance Sonar that uses sonar to detect obstacles hidden from the driver’s view, automatically applying the brakes if the vehicle is at risk of collision; and Drive-start Control to control engine output to mitigate collisions that may occur as a result of erroneous gear shifting or pedal misapplication while the vehicle is stationary or moving at low speed.
TMC also began full-scale operations at its ITS Proving Ground, a new test site—within the grounds of the Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Susono City, Shizuoka Prefecture—established with the aim of reducing traffic accidents through Intelligent Transport System (ITS) technology. The new 3.5-hectare ITS Proving Ground simulates an urban environment with faithfully replicated roads and traffic signals. The site is equipped with a road-to-vehicle communications system consisting of a vehicle detection system, a pedestrian detection system, a course monitoring system, traffic signals and control devices.
SAE begins 4th cooperative research program on R-1234yf refrigerant after Daimler raises safety questions and balks at use
November 09, 2012
In October 2012, a fourth SAE International Cooperative Research Program (CRP) was launched by the automotive industry to further analyze the safety of the new low global warming potential (GWP) mobile air conditioner refrigerant, R1234yf. The participants in the 2012 R-1234yf CRP include Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, PSA, Renault and Toyota.
The action comes after Daimler in September announced that findings from its internal investigations raised questions on the safe usage of R-1234yf as a replacement refrigerant in mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems and said that it would not use this chemical in its products. (Earlier post.)
Ford’s EV+ feature learns frequent destinations and adjusts hybrid powertrain to deliver more electric-only driving
November 08, 2012
Ford has developed EV+, a patent-pending feature that helps hybrids and plug-in hybrids learn frequent destinations, and then deliver more driving time in electric-only mode. EV+ is part of SmartGauge and is a standard feature on the Ford plug-in hybrids, C-MAX Energi and Fusion Energi, along with the hybrid versions of Fusion and C-MAX.
EV+ combines the built-in GPS of Ford SYNC with proprietary software algorithms developed by Ford engineers to learn frequent destinations. Once frequent destinations have been learned—such as home parking locations—EV+ adjusts how the electric power stored in the vehicle’s high-voltage battery is used to power the vehicle. If EV+ determines the vehicle is nearing a frequent destination, it has the capability to remain in electric-only mode.
BorgWarner expects $2.3B of net new powertrain business 2013–2015; 80% engine-related; 32% in China
November 07, 2012
BorgWarner Inc. expects $2.3 billion of net new powertrain business for 2013 through 2015. Demand for the company's advanced powertrain technologies, including gasoline and diesel turbochargers; dual-clutch transmission technology; engine timing systems; and emissions products, is expected to continue to drive strong growth.
Of the total new business, approximately 80% is anticipated from engine-related products such as turbochargers, ignition systems, emissions products, engine timing systems, variable cam timing modules and thermal systems. The remaining approximate 20% is expected from drivetrain-related products including the company’s fuel-efficient DualTronic transmission technology and its traditional automatic transmission and all-wheel drive technologies.
Bosch introducing new mid-range radar sensor, stereo-video sensor in 2014
October 30, 2012
As part of its work on developing new safety and driver assistance systems, Bosch will introduce a new mid-range 77 GHz radar sensor for front- and rear-end applications and a new stereo-video sensor.
77 Ghz radar. A leading European automaker is slated to deploy the new Bosch MRR rear mid-range radar sensor, which can precisely locate vehicles in blind spots or approaching from behind, in 2014. Compared to current 24-gigahertz solutions, this sensor is much more precise, with up to three times the ability to distinguish between objects and up to five times more accurate measurement of speed and distances, Bosch says.
Fujitsu Ten developing compact 3D electronic scan mm-wave radar for automotive applications; delivery in 2014
October 19, 2012
|2D vs. 3D scanning. Click to enlarge.|
Fujitsu Ten Ltd. has developed a compact 77 GHz three-dimensional electronic scan millimeter-wave radar for automotive applications that is capable of detecting an object in three dimensions, including the elevation range in addition to distance and azimuth range. While making further improvements, the company intends to deliver this product to automobile manufacturers from 2014.
This developed product is for frontward detection usage. By sensing the three dimensions—elevation, distance and azimuth—the product can the product can identify obstacles on the road more reliably from further away. The company will describe the new radar unit in a paper at the 19th ITS World Congress.
Nissan introducing independent control electric steering technology; to be deployed on select Infiniti models within a year
October 17, 2012
|Components of the next-generation steering system. Click to enlarge.|
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. unveiled the first steering technology that allows independent control of a vehicle’s tire angle and steering inputs. This next-generation steering technology was developed by Nissan and will be deployed on select Infiniti models on sale within one year.
A conventional steering system directs tire movements by transmitting steering inputs to the tires via a mechanical link. Nissan’s next-generation steering technology interprets driver input via force applied to the steering wheel, which is fed to the system’s multiple redundant Electronic Control Units (ECUs). The ECUs translate this into instructions to the steering angle actuator, which causes the front wheels to turn. At the same time, the system transmits information from the road—in effect, what the wheels re feeling—from the steering angle actuator back to the ECUs. The ECUs then filter this information, passing on to the steering wheel only the feedback that the driver needs.
For example, even on a road surface with minor ridges or furrows, the driver no longer has to grip the steering wheel tightly and make detailed adjustments, so traveling on the intended path becomes easier.
The result is that the systems transmits the driver’s intentions to the wheels even faster than a mechanical system and increases the direct driving performance feel by quickly and intelligently communicating road surface feedback to the driver.
Accompanying this next-generation steering technology, Nissan has also developed a camera-based straight-line stability system to further enhance on-center driving capability. Another first, this system improves vehicle stability by making small input angle adjustments so the vehicle will accurately trace and continue as planned in the lane it is traveling.
If the vehicle direction changes due to road surface or crosswinds, the system acts to minimize the effect of these conditions resulting in reduced steering input from the driver.
Using a camera mounted above the vehicle’s rearview mirror, the system analyzes the road ahead, recognizes the lane direction, detects changes in the vehicle’s direction, and transmits this information to multiple electronic control units as electronic signals. If a discrepancy occurs, the system acts to reduce the discrepancy by controlling the opposing force to the tire angle. By reducing the frequency of detailed steering input adjustments, which are a cause of fatigue on long drives, the driver’s workload is greatly reduced.
This next-generation steering technology's high reliability is achieved by multiple ECUs. In the event a single ECU malfunctions, another ECU will instantly take control, and in extreme circumstances such as the power supply being disrupted, the backup clutch will act to connect the steering wheel and wheels mechanically, enabling continued safe travel.
Autonomous Emergency Steering System. Separately, in another steering technology development, Nissan announced its “Autonomous Emergency Steering System.”
This system offers a high level of collision avoidance capability by applying automatic braking and automatic steering in situations where a collision is imminent and evading obstacles by braking may not be effective. The system takes effect in situations where unpredictable risks arise, such as sudden intrusions onto the road in low speed zones, or when a collision at high speed is imminent due to the driver's delayed recognition of the tail end of a traffic jam.
Nissan has long worked on the development and commercialization of brake-based control technology. The company has recently promoted development of technology to deal with situations that cannot be mitigated through braking alone. In order to prevent an accident from occurring, technology is needed to identify potential obstacles. Nissan has succeeded in developing technology which, through high-precision sensing technology and on-board control technology, automatically steers the vehicle away from potential collisions, when braking alone is insufficient.
The Autonomous Emergency Steering System, using the information provided by the front-mounted radar and camera, the two left and right rear radars, and the five laser scanners attached around the vehicle, initially acts on a risk of collision that cannot be avoided by braking. Simultaneously, it checks if there is a forward zone free of obstacles and that there are no vehicles approaching from the rear, and then displays to the driver the direction that the vehicle should be steered. If the driver cannot immediately steer in that direction, the system takes over to automatically steer the vehicle to help avoid a collision.
|Click to enlarge.|
ORNL researchers propose optimization framework for use in real-time feedback systems to improve driving styles with reduced fuel consumption
October 03, 2012
|Cumulative fuel consumption of the original and optimized Japan 10-15 driving cycle. Source: Malikopoulos and Aguilar. Click to enlarge.|
Studies have concluded that optimizing a driver’s driving style can reduce fuel consumption and emissions by up to 40%; exactly how to achieve that optimization across a large and diverse driving population remains an area of active investigation—and one of great opportunity.
Dr. Andreas Malikopoulos at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and colleague Juan Aguilar have developed an optimization framework based on their assessment of driving style factors that have a major impact on fuel economy. The framework can be used to develop real-time feedback systems to enable drivers to alter driving styles in response to actual driving conditions to be more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly, the two suggested in a paper presented at the 2012 15th International IEEE Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITSC 2012) in September.
Study suggests pulsed energy spark plug may support mainstream deployment of advanced, ultra-efficient spark-ignition GDI engines
October 01, 2012
|The Enerpulse pulseplug (“Pulstar”) features a peaking capacitor to improve energy transfer efficiency. The external form factors are the same. Click to enlarge.|
Findings in a study by a team from Texas A&M and Enerpulse (earlier post) suggest that pulsed energy spark plugs may be able to serve as enabling technology to support the mainstream deployment of advanced, ultra-clean and ultra-efficient spark ignition internal combustion engines. The pulsed energy plug may improve ignition of stratified-GDI (gasoline direct injection) engines; and further may improve the attainability of lean-burn homogeneous charge compression ignition combustion by improving the capabilities of spark-assist. Finally, the pulsed energy plug could improve natural gas spark ignition engine development by improving the ignition system.
The paper—and newer data not included in the paper—were presented by Dr. Timothy Jacobs, Texas A&M, at the ASME 2012 Internal Combustion Engine Division Fall Technical Conference last week in Vancouver, BC. (Jacobs and his colleagues from Enerpulse, the developer of the pulse energy plug, had presented an earlier paper on improvements in fuel consumption in conventional combustion with the plug at SAE World Congress in April.)
Daimler balks at use of low GWP R-1234yf refrigerant, citing new internal safety findings; wants to continue using R-134a (updated)
September 25, 2012
Daimler announced that findings from a new internal investigation have raised questions on the safe usage of R-1234yf as a replacement refrigerant in mobile air conditioning (MAC) systems. Due to the new findings of this study and the high safety demands at Mercedes-Benz, Daimler says that it will not use this chemical in its products. The company stated that it therefore wishes to continue to use R-134a refrigerant in its vehicles.
Over the last several years, the automotive industry has been tracking to replace the mobile air conditioning (MAC) refrigerant R-134a, which has a global warming potential (GWP) of 1,430, with the lower-GWP refrigerant R-1234yf (GWP = 4). In 2009, for example, a two-year Cooperative Research Program conducted through SAE International to investigate the safety and environmental performance of R-1234yf concluded that it could can be used as the global replacement refrigerant in MAC systems and could be safely accommodated through established industry standards and practices for vehicle design, engineering, manufacturing, and service. The report was the third SAE report to evaluate the new refrigerant. (Earlier post.)
BMW exploring heat pumps and infrared for BEV and PHEV cabin heating systems
September 18, 2012
The BMW Group’s Efficient Dynamics strategy is targeting reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions while at the same time increasing performance. In battery electric vehicles (BEVs) or automobiles using plug-in hybrid technology (PHEVs), the Efficient Dynamics strategy is aimed primarily at increasing the electric range.
One element of this comes under the general heading “Intelligent Energy Management”. BMW is working on a variety of individual solutions that help to reduce energy consumption by ancillary systems on board a BEV or PHEV; every kilowatt of stored energy that can be saved becomes available to the electric motor, enabling a greater operating range. Some of these new techniques could also be transferred to future vehicles with internal combustion engines.
BMW applying predictive driving technology to increase fuel savings
September 17, 2012
At the same Innovation Day 2012: Efficient Dynamics event at which it introduced its new EfficientDynamics engine family (earlier post), BMW also discussed its approach to Predictive Power Management as an element in its toolkit for fuel savings.
With the aid of navigation-based information, the transmission control and the Foresight Assistant are able to chart the course of the road and the profile of the route, with its hills and descents, as well as the speed limits, and to take these into account for gear selection and vehicle deceleration. Even the turning radius is known to the system before the driver reaches the bend in the road.
Pike Research forecasts 41M stop-start vehicles to be sold annually by 2020; nearly ten-fold increase from 2012
September 13, 2012
|Annual stop-start vehicle/hybrid electric vehicle sales, world markets: 2012-2020. Source: Pike. Click to enlarge.|
Pike Research forecasts that more than 41 million vehicles with stop-start systems will be sold annually worldwide by 2020—nearly a tenfold increase over 2012 sales.
Pikes’s new research report, “Stop-Start Vehicles”, finds that the stop-start technology is most popular in Europe at present, but expects volumes to grow steadily as it spreads to North America and Asia Pacific. While hybrid and electric vehicles are also expected to increase sales volumes, Pike projects that vehicles with these powertrains will remain in the low single digit percentages of the overall market, due primarily to cost.
CPT launching water-cooled electric supercharger for commercial diesel engines
September 12, 2012
|Cobra electric supercharger. Click to enlarge.|
At the 17th Supercharging conference this week in Dresden, Controlled Power Technologies (CPT) will launch what it says is the first water-cooled electric supercharger developed for “quasi-continuous” boosting of commercial diesel engines, including those developed for off highway applications. The fully integrated electric supercharger includes all control and power electronics.
The Cobra (Controlled Boosting for Rapid Response Applications) technology is aimed at off-road vehicles and on-road heavy goods and passenger vehicles exceeding 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight. Below this GVW the technology has already been acquired by Valeo as a supercharger for cars and light commercial vehicle applications. (Earlier post.) Cobra is particularly relevant to Tier 4 Interim legislation that comes into effect this year for off-road vehicles, according to the company.
DENSO develops cold storage evaporator that limits the rise in cabin temperature during an idle stop
September 07, 2012
|Cross-section of the CS Evaporator. Click to enlarge.|
DENSO Corporation has developed a Cold Storage (CS) Evaporator, which limits the increase in vehicle cabin temperature during an idle stop when stop/start technology is employed.
The newly developed CS Evaporator is equipped with a cold insulator, located in the heat exchanging area, which stores cold energy to be used to cool in-vehicle cabin air while the engine and air-conditioning cycle is off in the idle-stop state.
Delphi starts production of new heavy-duty common rail systems for EURO VI; 2700 bar injection pressure with 3000 bar capability
September 06, 2012
|Delphi F2e ultra high pressure heavy duty diesel common rail injector. Click to enlarge.|
Delphi Automotive has begun production of its advanced common rail technologies for heavy-duty diesel fuel injection equipment (FIE) that will meet the requirements of Euro VI and other demanding global emissions standards.
The systems were previewed as a development project at the IAA in 2008. Since then, the company has secured three contracts for these systems for a lifetime value expected to exceed €3.7 billion (US$4.7 billion), according to David Friday, Delphi Diesel Heavy-Duty managing director.
MQB-based 7th gen VW Golf up to 100 kg lighter and 23% more fuel efficient than predecessor; Golf BlueMotion delivers 3.2 l/100km (73.5 mpg US) and 85g/km CO2
September 05, 2012
|World premiere of the new Golf in the New National Gallery in Berlin. Click to enlarge.|
Volkswagen staged the world premiere of the new Golf in Berlin. The new Golf—the seventh generation of a vehicle that has been on sale since 1974 with sales totaling 29.13 million cars—is based on the Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB, modularen Querbaukasten). (Earlier post.)
Basing the new Golf on the MQB had far-reaching consequences; this Golf was completely redesigned in practically every area—the vehicle body, the interior, the engines, all of the information and entertainment systems and the numerous new driver assistance systems. Weight was reduced by 100 kg (220 lb). Elements carried forward were in the main technical features that were already future-proof in the previous model—the six- and seven-speed direct shift gearbox (DSG), for example.
BMW upgrading 1 and 3 Series models with focus on fuel economy and emissions; BMW 114d to debut with 1.6L diesel
September 03, 2012
|BMW 114d. Click to enlarge.|
BMW is making a number of enhancements to its 1 and 3 Series in fall 2012. The economical BMW 114d will make its debut, and for the first time, the intelligent four-wheel drive system BMW xDrive will be available for the BMW 1 Series.
Too, the BMW 320i EfficientDynamics Edition Sedan will be available as the first gasoline-driven model with additionally enhanced technology for reducing fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. In future, there will be a choice of four diesel and two gasoline engines for the new BMW 3 Series Touring. Latest additions to the vehicle range are the models BMW 320i Touring, BMW 318d Touring and the BMW 316d Touring.
Aisin Seki develops new economic electric water cooling pump for automobiles
August 31, 2012
|Aisin Seki electric water cooling pump installed in engine (red circle). © Aisin Seiki. Click to enlarge.|
Aisin Seki Co., Ltd has developed a smaller, cheaper electric cooling pump through some effective efficiency optimisations. Cars traditionally use mechanical water cooling pumps, which have a flow rate dependent on the engine speed. Electric cooling pumps offer greater control over the water flow allowing significant fuel economies. However, electric pumps are traditionally much larger than their mechanical counterparts.
Among other features, the Aisin electric pump uses a newly shaped impeller to improve performance. In addition, the design positions the components so that both the motor efficiency and the centrifugal pump mutually benefit. The pump also uses fewer components, allowing it to occupy less space.
Bosch increases commercial vehicle diesel injection pressure to 2,500 bar
August 06, 2012
|Bosch’s CRSN3-25 offers injection pressure of up to 2,500 bar. Click to enlarge.|
As it outlined in 2010, Bosch has increased the maximum injection pressure of its CRSN3-25 injection system for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles to 2,500 bar. The aim is to help meet more stringent emissions standards such as US 10 and Euro VI; higher injection pressures help lower fuel consumption and emissions.
With the CRSN3-25, up to seven individual injections are possible. This increases flexibility in terms of engine design, promotes lower exhaust and fuel consumption levels, and results in even quieter operation. Due to a software learning feature, the amount of fuel injected can be adjusted. This makes it possible to meet strict emission standards over the entire vehicle life cycle, even when annual mileage is high.
NPC report to Energy Secretary finds light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles could reduce per-mile GHG at least 40% by 2050; additional strategies required for further reductions
August 02, 2012
|Projected range of impact of demand, fuel efficiency improvements, and alternative fuel-vehicle systems on light-duty fleet GHG emissions. Source: NPC. Click to enlarge.|
Transportation in the United States could evolve at an accelerated rate, depending on the speed of technology advancements and the economic viability of alternative fuels and vehicles, according to a comprehensive report approved and presented to the Secretary of Energy by the National Petroleum Council (NPC). However, sustained and focused efforts by industry and government are essential for progress to continue and accelerate.
Among the findings of the two-year study are that—if technology hurdles and infrastructure challenges can be overcome—economically competitive low-carbon fuels and improvements in fuel economy will result in substantial reductions in GHG emissions. On a stand-alone basis, all light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles have the potential to reduce per-mile GHG emissions by at least 40% in 2050, relative to 2005 average fleet levels. However, projected 2050 transportation demand, relative to 2005, counteracts per-mile GHG reductions.
ETI announces £2.5M lower drivetrain HDV efficiency project
July 27, 2012
The UK Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has launched a three-year, £2.5-million (US$3.9-million) project to improve the efficiency of Heavy Duty Vehicles (HDV) by cutting the amount of parasitic losses in the lower drivetrain system by 50%. The ETI is a public-private partnership between global energy and engineering companies—BP, Caterpillar, EDF, E.ON, Rolls-Royce and Shell—and the UK Government.
Parasitic losses caused by the churning of the lubricating oil and component friction in HDVs and off-road vehicle drivetrains can account for more than 10% of overall vehicle energy losses. This project will look to improve the overall system design, with a synergistic focus on gears, bearings, surface treatments, lubricant flow and lubricant composition.
Ford concentrates on control strategies for low-cost start-stop system for Fusion
July 19, 2012
The new Ford Fusion will be the first non-hybrid Ford vehicle available in the US with Auto Start-Stop. (Earlier post.) Priced at an incremental $295, Auto Start-Stop can improve real-world fuel efficiency by 3.5%, and can pay for itself in fuel savings in less than 18 months, according to the company.
In its quest to keep the system very affordable, Ford wanted to keep the supporting battery a 12V battery, but also didn’t want to compromise durability, said Birgit Sorgenfrei, Ford’s Auto Start-Stop program manager. The company focused heavily on developing control strategies not only to ensure smooth and robust restarts and driver comfort, but also to minimize the negative impacts of the start-stop duty cycle on the Advanced Glass Mat (AGM) battery. As a result, Ford engineers have more than 25 patents pending for innovations developed in the electronic control strategy for the $295 system.
Schaeffler bringing thermal management module to North American market; up to 4% improvement in fuel economy
July 12, 2012
|Rotary slide valves controlled by sensors enable the ideal temperature window for the engine and transmission to be reached quickly. Click to enlarge.|
Schaeffler is bringing its advanced thermal management system to control drivetrain temperature more precisely to the North American market. Through the proactive management of engine, transmission, hybrid component and battery temperature, Schaeffler’s Thermal Management Module improves fuel economy by as much as 4%, according to the company.
Currently in production in Europe (on Audi’s EA 888 Gen3 engine), the module also provides occupant benefits, such as a 40% reduction in internal vehicle warm-up time.
In-wheel electric drive company Protean receives $84M in funding; to build production plant in China
July 10, 2012
Protean Electric, developer of in-wheel electric drive systems (earlier post), received $84 million in new funding from GSR Ventures, New Times Group, Oak Investment Partners and the city of Liyang, Jiangsu Province, China. This capital will be used to bring Protean’s electric drive technology to production by establishing manufacturing facilities in Liyang.
The funding is led by GSR Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Beijing and Silicon Valley. They will be joined by the New Times Group, a Liyang-based industrial group. Oak Investment Partners, Protean’s first venture investor, is also participating in this round of funding. The city of Liyang is partnering to provide prototype manufacturing support, with favorable industrial policy.
Frost & Sullivan analysis suggests momentum toward supplementary 48V on-board power-net
July 02, 2012
Vehicle electrification is not limited to hybrid or electric drive. Conventional automobiles of today are partly electric in their own way, with most systems in the vehicle having electrical and electronic connections for better functionality.
Some high-end vehicles have more than 90 Electronic Control Units (ECUs) to control the various modules within the car, making the car both sophisticated and complicated. However, the trend is not limited to luxury cars. A typical mass-market car such as the Volkswagen Golf has had almost a three-fold increase in the number of ECUs used, from 17 ECUs in generation IV (1998) to 49 ECUs in generation VI (2010), notes Frost & Sullivan analyst Prana Natarajan. For example, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) uses about 20 ECUs, sending signals to various other systems that interact with it.
Federal-Mogul introduces new range of low- and zero-copper brake pad materials to meet new legislation
June 25, 2012
|Federal-Mogul developed its Eco-Friction range ahead of legislations set to reduce the amount of copper that can be used in brake pads. Click to enlarge.|
Federal-Mogul Corporation has developed a range of zero-copper and low-copper brake pad formulations using a new tribological fingerprinting process. The company says it has already secured new customer contracts for the low-copper and zero-copper Eco-Friction brake pads for vehicle platforms in North America and Europe.
Copper is a key ingredient in high-performance brake pad formulations, limiting pad and rotor wear, noise and judder and contributing to friction stability over a wide range of operating temperatures. The metal makes up 5 to 20% of the friction material mass in typical Non-Asbestos Organic (NAO) and Low-Steel formulations used in North America, Asia and Europe. The presence of copper in brake pads, however, is being regulated and may eventually be eliminated due to concerns regarding its environmental impact.
FTA to award $400K for pedestrian/cyclist collision warning system on buses
June 10, 2012
The US Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will award (FTA-2012-010-TRI) up to $400,000 for one or more pilot projects to increase pedestrian/cyclist safety through demonstration of advanced pedestrian warning system on transit buses.
As background for the award, FTA notes that pedestrians represent a considerable portion of traffic-related (cars, trucks and transit) injuries and deaths on our nation’s highways. In 2008, 4,378 pedestrians were killed and 69,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States. This represents 12% and 3% of all the traffic fatalities and injuries, respectively. The majority of these fatalities occurred in urban areas (72%) where pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicular traffic, including transit buses, commingle.
Study finds diesel oxidation catalyst eliminates mutagenicity of diesel exhaust in gas phase
May 27, 2012
A team of researchers in Germany has found that the mutagenicity of diesel engine exhaust (DEE) is eliminated in the gas phase by a Diesel Oxidation Catalyst (DOC), but only slightly reduced in the particle phase. In a study published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they investigated the influence of different diesel fuels and the exhaust after-treatment with a DOC on the genotoxicity of DEE using the bacterial reverse mutation assay (Ames test) and a detailed characterization of the emitted particles.
Further benefits of the DOC they found include a reduction of total hydrocarbons of up to 90%; and of carbon monoxide of up to 98%. Total particle mass (TPM) was reduced by 50% with the DOC in common diesel fuel and by 30% in the other fuels.
Oak Ridge researcher developing autonomous intelligent engines capable of real-time calibration based on driver behavior
May 24, 2012
|Improvement in fuel consumption (red line) from one of the case models using the POD learning model. Source: Malikopoulos 2010. Click to enlarge.|
Dr. Andreas Malikopoulos at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is leading an effort to enable an automobile engine to function as an autonomous intelligent system capable of learning and realizing its optimal calibration in real-time under different conditions while the driver is driving. (Calibration is defined as the procedure required to optimize one or more engine performance indices—such as fuel economy, emissions, or engine power—with respect to the engine controllable variables.)
Equipped with this capability, an engine should be able personalize its calibration for each driver—i.e., progressively to perceive a driver’s unique driving style and then to optimize one or more engine performance indices for that style. Malikopoulos has run a number of simulation studies (using the enDYNA high fidelity simulation model) showing up to 10% fuel economy improvement using his proposed method compared to a standard baseline engine.
Enova developing next-generation electric drive system “ACUMEN” by reaching out for emerging technologies from other sources
Enova, a developer of proprietary hybrid electric and all-electric drive systems and drive system components for the commercial vehicle market, has begun development of its next-generation drive system, code-named ACUMEN. With the completion of its OMNI drive system (earlier post), Enova is now looking to further optimize its ability to interface with all worldwide EV and HEV systems, including those powered by natural gas.
Enova previously announced its new OMNI drive system which combines the 170 kW OMNI Inverter with a new 10 kW OMNI Charger with an entire range of AC induction and permanent magnet motors. While OMNI was developed in-house, with the ACUMEN system, Enova is looking to evaluate and utilize technologies that are emerging worldwide.