A New, Disruptive, Modular, and Scalable Vehicle Architecture and Platform

The goal of the UNICARagil project is to conceive, realize, and test a new, disruptive, modular, and scalable vehicle architecture and platform that forms the starting point of a future, efficient, user-orientated depiction of versatile automated vehicle concepts.

Core elements of the research and development are a modular, mechatronic platform, a fully service-oriented and thus update-capable software architecture, as well as a powerful, functionally safe E/E architecture. The requirements for functional safety, IT security, and privacy, as well as modular testing of software and hardware, which have already been considered during conception, form another important, disruptive element of the project.

On this basis, four elementary applications and characteristics are realized in the form of automated, modular and scalable prototype vehicles that all use the same architecture as well as mechatronic and digital modules.

The project was initiated by the university network Uni-DAS e.V., in which six professorial chairs of different disciplines and universities in Germany have joined.

Four research associates at FZD are involved in UNICARagil over a period of four years.

As an alternative for today’s safety approval methods for passenger cars with elaborate vehicle testing of pre-series vehicles, a consequently modular approach for safety approval of driverless autonomous vehicles is researched.

For this purpose, a catalogue of requirements for different road types is created and the respective driving skills are assigned. The resulting catalogues are core elements of the new safety approval strategy. Safety approval of driving on a certain road section is done only once and is applicable to various other applications and furthermore can be used for a future development of standards, apart from this project.

Furthermore, a method is developed to verify the required skills already on module level. Therefore, testability at the interfaces must be closely considered during definition of the interfaces between the individual modules. The topic of modular safety approval is investigated in cooperation with IPG Automotive GmbH.

This topic is researched in the course of the publicly supported project UNICARagil.

Driverless autonomous vehicles independently perceive their environment, interpret traffic situations, and plan the desired course of the future trajectory.

This target trajectory is usually tracked with front-wheel steering as well as brake and engine torque demands. But how is this done if the vehicle has four independent wheel modules with independent actuators? An extremely high maneuverability can be achieved through the resolution of forced couplings, but new control concepts must be developed to enable reliable motion control, which also requires a reliable and highly accurate provision of information of the is-state variables.

As driverless vehicles have no human fallback level to fulfill the driving task, a new fallback level is to be developed that replaces human intervention and strives for a risk-minimized state, such as stopping at the roadside, for example.

Research questions hereby are what distinguishes a safe state for a vehicle in a special situation, with which transition this state can be optimally achieved, how a generic architecture of such a system can look like, and what further information is required to execute a stopping maneuver.

This topic is researched in the course of a cooperation between the institutes of automotive engineering (FZD) and physical geodesy and satellite geodesy (PSG) of TU Darmstadt, as well as the iMAR GmbH in the course of the publicly funded project UNICARagil.