Smart designs and controls for a smoother, safer drive
Clever chassis designs and dynamic controls that adapt to the terrain are the way forward for safer, greener, better-performing vehicles. But these innovations are complex and costly to develop. Inspired by intelligent systems integration, an EU-backed project is helping to take this emerging technology mainstream.
Innovative safety technologies like air bags and anti-skid brakes that we take for granted today were once luxury options in high-end vehicles. New integrated systems designed to make driving safer, greener and more comfortable are being developed, but these technologies often struggle to break through to mainstream production models due to the costly research and development required, and the sometimes difficult market conditions.
The EU-funded EVE project is helping to overcome these barriers in one very important aspect of vehicle design — where machine meets road.
EVE partners have made tangible progress developing versatile real-time tyre and vehicle models, as well as a new wheel slip controller based on sliding mode control techniques and integrated with dynamic tyre pressure controls and semi-active suspension. This enhances braking performance and driving comfort compared to traditional active safety systems.
The driving force behind this integrated chassis control research is a consortium of several industrial and academic partners led by project coordinator Valentin Ivanov, a fellow a Marie Curie and Alexander von Humboldt Fellow, who is working at the Technische Universität Ilmenau in Germany.
“In the intelligent vehicle of the near future, chassis systems, equipped with high-dynamic actuators and sensor fusion, will have the highest level of system integration to simultaneously improve safety, energy-efficiency and comfort both in on-road and off-road driving conditions,” says Ivanov, EVE’s coordinator.
Designing high-performance systems through connected R&D
EVE has also progressed with an ‘x-in-the-loop’ concept whereby test labs and experimental equipment situated in different l locations around the world are connected for real-time shared and distributed on-site testing. This helps to reduce the development costs and time by designing new automotive systems and components.
Both the integrated chassis control and new methods of vehicle systems under development in EVE have excellent prospects when transferred to the emerging field of autonomous vehicles, says Ivanov.
“Further progress in automated driving technologies means we have to revisit vehicle systems design approaches,” he adds. “Through intelligent integration of active chassis systems, a radically new level of safety and agile dynamics of autonomous vehicles can be provided.”
Charting the future of intelligent vehicles
EVE was funded through the EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) programme, which helps scientists like Ivanov gain and share valuable experience and cutting-edge know-how between labs across Europe and beyond.
Indeed, complex investigations towards vehicle intelligence require long-term investment and commitment, says Ivanov.
“We started preliminary studies on integrated chassis control several years ago and had to look for new funding opportunities after demonstrating promising initial results,” he says. “Fortunately, our ideas attracted industrial and academic contacts, so we were able to launch the EVE project with some 15 partners working towards ambitious common goals.”
EVE’s progress, leading to tangible developments in safe and agile vehicles, owes a lot to its international connections and the close cooperation and contacts forged between research and industry in Europe, South Africa and the USA.