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Knorr-Bremse demonstrated at IAA a prototype truck loaded with its vehicle dynamics expertise and driver-assistance systems—e.g., electronic stability, emergency braking, lane keeping—that can drive along stretches of highway in fully autonomous mode. (Ryan Gehm)

Knorr-Bremse puts the brakes on automated driving

The German commercial-vehicle supplier used the IAA stage in Hanover to demonstrate its expertise in highly automated driving (HAD) functions—environment recognition, decision-making and actuation—as well as how its “project-based cooperation” with Continental will expedite bringing HAD solutions to market. A cost-effective “smart redundancy concept”—in which the braking system temporarily replaces the steering when necessary—was also presented.

“The key to engineering such systems is a deep-seated understanding of commercial-vehicle dynamics, which are far more complex than in the case of cars,” said Dr. Peter Laier, Executive Board Member of Knorr-Bremse AG responsible for the Commercial Vehicle Systems division. “In the next few years, we’re going to see a gradual shift from more and more versatile driver-assistance systems (ADAS) to automated driving and thus to vehicles that can temporarily take over the driving completely.” Laier discussed the latest trends in ADAS and the move to HAD at the trade show.

What is your company doing to enable ADAS and automated driving?
Our new Global Scalable Brake Control (GSBC), for example, combines the worlds of ABS [antilock braking system] and EBS [electronic braking system] for the first time ever. Now we finally can reconcile those two with the same architecture; we can do that to a large extent with the same connectors and hardware components. Furthermore, GSBC for us is the platform for new functions—for driver-assistance systems and automated driving. It has been developed from the outset with a view to the requirements of automated driving today or what will exist in the future. Within the GSBC we will be able to see things like adaptive cruise control, an emergency braking system, a turning assistant, a lane departure warning system—all of those can be integrated in the platform.

What are the next steps for automated commercial vehicles?
The key to automated driving is a good understanding of the specific dynamics of the commercial vehicle and the model that it takes to respond to those characteristics…which is quite distinguished from that in the passenger car. The center of gravity of the vehicle carrying packages or liquids is much higher… Two years ago [at IAA] we presented the autonomous yard maneuvering, covering a predefined course fully autonomously within an enclosed depot. This year we took that one step further; we’re showing the Highway Pilot [in a prototype truck], meaning we move the commercial vehicle in a fully automated way in a highway setting including overtaking functions.

Can fail-safe operation be ensured for automated vehicles?
Redundancy concepts are one of the biggest challenges because in the case of automated driving, safety-relevant components on board the vehicle have to be either duplicated or you have to make sure that in case of a system failure, the functionality of other components and systems will take over to close that gap. A mere duplication of all safety-relevant components in the commercial vehicle would be very expensive, so that’s not the smartest solution. The necessary redundancy can be demonstrated by linking the systems intelligently. One of those functions is the steering brake. If the overlay steering fails, we have braking at the individual wheels which allows us to continually steer the vehicle without having to provide a secondary steering solution.

How will the partnership with Continental work?
Continental AG provides sensors—radar, lidar, cameras—for the partnership, and the environment recognition model, the CPU [central processing unit], as well as the driver interface. We at Knorr-Bremse bring along our vehicle dynamics model, our specific know-how on commercial vehicles and the actuators for steering and braking. And we are the systems leader and the interface to the customer for system integration. Together, Knorr-Bremse and Continental can provide a fully-fledged A-to-Z turnkey solution for automated driving to our customers.

What is the timeframe for projects moving forward?
In the pilot phase, we will develop platooning applications together for the market and then Highway Pilot applications. Of course, with all those years of experience in components and subsystems from both sides, we’re able to work with pre-validated systems which we can quickly develop to enter market.

The individual steps begin with a platooning project we’re currently developing together, with a demo version ready  early next year and market-launch ready in 2022 or 2023. Then the Highway Pilot, which will be the second [generation], we will develop together. [SOP readiness is planned from 2023 onward, Laier showed in a timeline (see above).] Continue reading »