Development of automotive control systems

  • April 21, 2016
  • Jules Breuer

With the increasing number of electrical functions in modern cars, come more control hardware components. A single vehicle can contain over 100 ECU's. Integrating all these components in a vehicle is quite a challenge and requires a system approach on vehicle level. We asked BRACE Automotive Engineer Peter Bouten for more details.

What is your position at BRACE Automotive and how long have you been working in Automotive Engineering?

I can call myself an engineer with a bachelor degree for 7 years. But I cannot remember not having the drive and interest to engineer everything where I can get my hands on. In 2007 I finished my thesis on FlexRay and Autosar knowing for sure that's what the near future would bring. Almost 10 years later I am wiser in the fact that adopting new technology or standards require some time.

At BRACE Automotive I am responsible for the chassis cluster. That's the cluster where the knowledge is maintained related to mechatronic vehicle systems. Think about communication bus like LIN2.1 or vehicle controls architectures like the Siemens RACE platform. But also the hot topic of Cyber Security plays a big part.

What are the most innovative ADAS systems currently in development?

This question can be answered in two ways. One is the answer from our industries eager early adaptors or driven by supplier strategy answers. Tesla is really paving the way with their business strategy, launching additional ADAS features even after they sold the vehicle. We are talking about vehicles becoming autonomous and making life-changing (or threatening?) decisions. Tier 1 suppliers are working rapidly with new technologies for visioning systems that allow very cool features, like integration of mirrors inside the vehicle.
But maybe the innovation needs much more to be thought of when the vehicle is becoming part of a bigger thing. We can think of the small step where cell-phones in cars are monitored where traffic congestion occurs up to actively talking to each-other cars that improve the traffic flow. Technologies outside the car (and therefore also different company’s) are starting to come closer into our automotive domain. And so does security…

What is your view on Siemens Reliable Automation and Control Environment (RACE)?

This is a perfect example where a supplier has a strategy to push (his) technology into the automotive market. Another thing is that this platform reacts to a demand from the market we see at our customers; the shift from electronic-system suppliers to electronic-platform suppliers. More and more parts of ‘the application’ are developed in-house. Vehicle integrators have larger design freedom for optimal vehicle integration and thereby customer satisfaction. I think this is a very crucial part of the current movement in automotive, the new technology makes everything possible but a user friendly, fully integrated vehicle is what can make or break the newly developed ADAS features. I think everyone knows examples about unclear user interaction of infotainment systems and how many people are really using the ‘self-parking car’ feature?

What kind of impact do the increasing safety-critical demands have on development of chassis electronics?

The larger design freedom comes with a risk. Interconnecting features on multiple systems together with the new use-cases made possible by the visioning and ‘smarter’ technologies are pushing engineers and regulators to new limits. The effect of software recognizing an operating situation and acting accordingly is the most known example at the moment. Gladly the testing facilities are also improving rapidly enabling us to prove the idea also works in practice (and under all circumstances). Besides better testing facilities also better developing standards are more adopted in organizations. In the end the roads are becoming safer and end-customers are becoming less responsible in the discussion who is to blame when an accidents happen. I am actually not sure if this is in favor of the ‘freude am fahren’…

What are the capabilities of BRACE in this field?

More demanding end-customers, new technologies and platform systems enable BRACE employees to express their creativity better and in more areas. We are facing rapid development in multi-disciplinary teams with new technology, processes and tools. The chassis cluster tries to keep up with all emerging ideas in this domain but knows that Rome was not build in one day. BRACE fits in this market because they are dedicated automotive, multi-disciplinary and always thinking about the added value for the end-customer.