Ricardo Highlights Safety-Critical Design Capabilities at Convergence 2008 with DriveWise™ Steer-By-Wire System

  • Automotive control systems must become safer, more reliable and more cost-effective as vehicle complexity increases
  • Ricardo's DriveWise™ interactive system designed to be simple and dependable

VAN BUREN TWP., Mich., (October 20, 2008) - Ricardo, Inc., a leading independent provider of technology, product innovation and engineering solutions to the world's automotive, military, transport and new energy industries, today showcased technologies and development tools focused on safety and efficiency at the 2008 SAE Convergence Transportation Electronics Conference in Detroit. Technologies featured include DriveWise™, a prototype of a steer-by-wire system developed with AutoFMEATM, Ricardo's safety-critical engineering program.

Ricardo also previewed two new products: WAVE-RTTM, a new gas dynamics modeling software package capable of real-time simulation, and MorfeusTM, the next generation of the Ricardo rCubeTM rapid prototyping system for developing electronic control units (ECUs) for engines and vehicle systems. Experts also demonstrated Ricardo's MINTTM static analysis tool for verifying computer simulation models.

"Safety is a paramount consideration as automotive electronic systems interact more with the vehicle's powertrain, brakes and steering," said Dr. Peter Miller, director of electrical and electronic engineering at Ricardo. "Improving system safety typically adds complexity, which raises cost and reduces reliability. We must simplify these systems so they are more safe, reliable and affordable. With the DriveWise Steer-by-wire system, we increased the inherent safety of the steering system while reducing development time and cost. It's a good example of the effectiveness of the safety-critical design capabilities that Ricardo engineering tools such as AutoFMEA bring to the development process."

The DriveWise electronic steering system, demonstrated in booth 1126 at Convergence, is part of the DriveWise technology project conceived to develop an advanced, cost-effective chassis control system that delivers safety enhancements and improved handling.

In addition to steer-by-wire, DriveWise incorporates Ricardo's Torque-Vectoring™ system on the driven (rear) wheels of the DriveWise demonstration vehicle. This combination of technologies enables the vehicle to execute maneuvers in challenging driving conditions with a high degree of safety and stability. For example, if a driver approaches a turn at an imprudent speed, DriveWise intelligently distributes the correct torque to each wheel, enhancing the vehicle's maneuverability and helping it negotiate the turn successfully.

The steer-by-wire and Torque-Vectoring systems are controlled by an integrated vehicle yaw control system that includes three Ricardo rCube™ high-performance, rapid-prototyping controllers to create a fault-tolerant control system: one is the primary steering controller, a second is the primary torque vectoring controller and a third integrates the operation of the two sub-systems. The two parts of the system share sensors and operate in a fully integrated manner so that instantaneous yaw motions can be blended by both sub-systems and each is able to cover for faults detected in the other.

This approach enables the safe implementation of a yaw-based vehicle-control system that integrates steer-by-wire and Torque Vectoring. As part of the safety system, DriveWise uses an ultracapacitor pack to provide backup power if the vehicle's main 12-volt power is lost. Ricardo engineers used AutoFMEA to conduct safety analyses from the early stages of the program and progressively through development.

"The result is improved vehicle stability and safety, achieved through Ricardo's ability to develop and implement a cost-effective, robust and fault-tolerant architecture," Dr. Miller noted.

The following also were previewed at Convergence:

Ricardo presented a preview of WAVE-RT, its soon-to-be-released engine plant modeling software capable of real-time simulation for SiL and HiL simulation in the development of ECUs.

WAVE-RT is intended for development of gasoline and diesel engines, with support for turbochargers, intercoolers and EGR circuits. It bridges the gap between powertrain development and control system development, bringing significant advantages over the current standard (Mean Value Engine Models or "MVEMs") in both technical capability of the models and improvements in the process for developing these models. It provides a crank-angle resolved dynamic plant model which can be exported directly from an existing WAVE gas dynamics model.

WAVE-RT is scheduled for release in November and will be supported on numerous commercial HiL systems from well-known vendors such as ETAS, MathWorks and Concurrent. Ricardo is working with other HiL vendors to ensure support on their platforms as well. Ricardo experts will be demonstrating WAVE-RT at booth 1126 throughout the Convergence conference.

The proliferation of advanced technology such as hybrid powertrains, dynamic vehicle controls, integrated safety systems, drive-by-wire and telematics demands more computing and communication power to manage and integrate the various systems. Morfeus is designed for the development of ECUs for advanced powertrain systems that employ advanced gasoline and diesel engines (including direct injection and optimization for biofuels), transmissions (including dual-clutch), hybrid systems, advanced chassis systems, telematics and integrated safety systems.

Morfeus features modular, flexible and scalable architecture. Its design provides high processing power, supports the latest advanced model generation and auto-coding, and is highly customizable. The sealed enclosure and high-quality connector system provide thermal management and ensure durability in harsh automotive environments.

MINT is well-established as a static analysis tool for verifying MATLAB� Simulink�/Stateflow� models. MINT allows detection of modeling errors early in the development cycle, resulting in significant potential savings in time and cost. It can handle complete models, subsystems and parts of a model and can be configured to exclude specific subsystems and tests.

If a missing connection is detected and the error is fixed on Simulink, MINT can run a retest to allow a quick and effective update. MINT can be customized for specific customer needs.

About Ricardo
Ricardo, the Eco-Innovation Technology Company, is a leading independent provider of technology, product innovation, engineering solutions and strategic consulting to the world's automotive, military, transport and new energy industries. The company's skill base represents the state-of-the-art in low emissions and fuel-efficient powertrain technology, and can be best summarized: "Ricardo is Fuel Economy."

Ricardo offers TVFE™, its Total Vehicle Fuel Economy engineering service, to transportation manufacturers worldwide to provide objective evaluation of all available technologies to identify the most cost-effective strategies to optimize fuel economy and CO2 goals. For more information on TVFE, please visit www.totalvehiclefueleconomy.com.

With technical centers and offices throughout Europe, the U.S. and Asia, Ricardo provides engineering expertise ranging from vehicle systems integration, controls & electronics, hardware and software development, to the latest driveline and transmission systems and gasoline, diesel, hybrid and fuel cell powertrain technologies. Its customers include the world's major automakers and suppliers as well as manufacturers in the military, commercial, off-highway and clean energy sectors.

The company also serves in advisory roles to governmental and independent agencies.

Ricardo's U.S. operation, Ricardo, Inc., is headquartered in Van Buren Township, Michigan. Ricardo plc posted sales of $394 million in financial year 2008 and is a constituent of the FTSE TechMark 100 index - a group of innovative technology companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. For more information, visit www.ricardo.com.

Media Contacts:
Joe Kirik / The Quell Group / (248) 649-8900 / jkirik@quell.com
Anthony Smith / Ricardo Media Office / +44 1273 382710 / media@ricardo.com