Compact technology from AB Dynamics enables simpler control of vehicles during ADAS, autonomous, durability and safety testing

Bradford-on-Avon, 17th September 2018… Volvo Cars is now conducting advanced vehicle testing using an innovative drive-by-wire technology from leading test system supplier, AB Dynamics. Flex-0 enables vehicles to be driven directly through the CAN bus, without the need for a human 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.

Conventionally, hardware installed for an objective vehicle test would include a steering robot, pedal robots, control system, data logger and a motion pack. Together, these can control a vehicle safely, repeatably and more accurately than a human test driver – to within 20mm. This level of accuracy and repeatability is achievable thanks to AB Dynamics’ best-in-class path-following and speed control. 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 Flex-0 to drive them as though they had robots fitted. This opens up opportunities to use our Path Following and Synchro technology to perform many types of tests for which you’d otherwise need robots,” explains Jeremy Ash, Commercial Manager, AB Dynamics. “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. This means Flex-0 and robot actuators are complementary technologies.

A new film has been made with the help of Volvo Cars that shows a range of applications for the Flex-0 controller, which can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIhppTde3VA.

In addition to the applications shown in the video, the Flex-0 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,” says 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 Flex-0 as a cost and time-effective solution.”

The Flex-0 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 (for example the Euro NCAP AEB test procedure) and some vehicle dynamics tests.

The Flex-0 was demonstrated at Cenex-LCV 2018 and will also feature at the Leane ADAS Seminar and Workshop in Italy on the 18th of September. For more information on the Leane event, please visit leaneautomotive.com.

AB Dynamics is an automotive test system supplier with a diverse range of track and lab testing equipment. From Kinematics & Compliance machines and ADAS targets to state-of-the-art driving simulators, AB Dynamics supplies the 25 most successful car manufacturers in the world.

If you would like to learn more about AB Dynamics and its products, please visit ABDynamics.com

Press Contact
Jim Hadfield at Market Engineering
jim.hadfield@m-eng.com
+44 1295 277050

Images & Videos

A new film has been made with the help of Volvo Cars that shows a range of applications for the Flex-0 controller

Flex-0 enables vehicles to be driven directly through the CAN bus, without the need for a human driver or robot. It greatly simplifies installation and test processes, reducing costs and minimising the amount of test hardware required within the vehicle.
The system will enable manufacturers, OEMs and test houses to safely conduct ADAS, vehicle dynamics and durability testing.
A conventional testing setup using steering, accelerator and brake robots.
The same vehicle with Flex-0 installed. It has many of the same test capabilities while significantly reducing the amount of equipment required inside the vehicle cabin.
The view from inside a vehicle cabin with the Flex-0 installed.