Flex0 dispenses with need for steering and pedal actuators
Test system supplier, AB Dynamics has supplied drive by wire technology to Geely's Volvo Cars for vehicle testing. The so called Flex-0 system enables vehicles to be driven directly through the CAN bus without the need for a driver or robot.
"This represents a significant step forward, greatly simplifying installation and test processes, reducing costs and minimising the amount of test hardware required within the vehicle," the supplier claimed.
Conventionally, hardware installed for an objective vehicle test would include a steering robot, pedal robots, control system, data logger and a motion pack. These can control a vehicle safely, repeatability and more accurately than a human test driver to within 20mm. This level of accuracy and AB Dynamics claimed Flex-0 maintains this precise control without the requirement for robots in a number of common vehicle test applications.
"Many modern cars have the capability to be controlled by wire, allowing the system to drive them as though they had robots fitted. This opens up opportunities to use our path following and aynchro technology to perform many types of tests for which you'd otherwise need robots," said commercial manager Jeremy Ash.
"Typically, by wire control is tightly secured by the vehicle manufacturer to avoid security concerns. For this reason, we generally output in a standardised format which allows manufacturers to implement their own conversion to suit the vehicle, and this has been shown to work particularly well."
The confidentiality of CAN command formats means robot actuators are still required for competitor vehicle testing, or tests undertaken by third party agencies. They will also remain the preferred choice for vehicle dynamics tests involving extreme steering inputs where the steering forces required for the manoeuvre cannot be delivered by the vehicle's power steering when commanded by wire.
The supplier said the new product has the potential to be a key tool for testing autonomous vehicles. As the industry learns more about the testing and validation requirements for such systems, there will be a need to conduct tests that safely replicate real world roadscapes and situations.
"Testing autonomous vehicles requires complex traffic scenarios involving multiple vehicles," said Ash. "For these tests, GSTs (Guided Soft Targets) can be used where there is potential for a collision. Other background traffic, with low risk of collision, can be populated by regular cars using by-wire.
The controller can also be used in many of the test scenarios that would normally employ robot actuators instead of human drivers to reduce the risk of injury or fatigue, or to improve accuracy and repeatability. These include durability testing, ADAS development and some vehicle dynamics tests.
Look ma – no robot: Video here
• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more