Automotive Engineering in the Digital Age

October 10, 2016 // Powertrain synthesis and digital powertrain: Engineering partner IAV presents its latest methods for developing cost-efficient, reliable and low-emission powertrains at the 25th Aachen Colloquium Automobile and Engine Technology (October 10-12, 2016).

Berlin. IAV powertrain synthesis is a unique method for finding the ideal powertrain from millions of variants, whether conventional, hybrid or purely electric drive. IAV takes the heading "Digital Powertrain" to summarize its comprehensive expertise in the field of automotive control technology. In Aachen, the company will be demonstrating its leading role with the example of a throttle flap that has a self-learning control system for adapting to different components, production tolerances and ageing effects.

IAV powertrain synthesis: search for the overall optimum

Today it is no longer sufficient to optimize the engine, transmission or electric motor in isolation. That is why IAV powertrain synthesis searches for the overall optimum under the prevailing boundary conditions. Due consideration is given to various drive topologies, operating strategies and driving cycles. The result consists in a ranking of the best configurations which can also be used as input for the following detailed synthesis of transmissions and electric motors.

"This has evolved against the background of growing requirements that OEMs have to consider when developing new vehicles, including ever lower CO2 emissions, high performance and all the brand's typical comfort features", says Wolfgang Wukisiewitsch, Senior Vice President for Engine and Transmission Development at IAV. "We have developed the new method with an eye to the key role played by the powertrain, meeting with great interest following presentations to our customers and at trade shows." IAV powertrain synthesis is used in advance engineering and concept development. It mainly addresses system architects and decision-makers in the automotive industry with overall responsibility for fleet targets and requirements, together with those responsible for powertrain development – in other words, all experts taking strategic fundamental decisions going over and beyond individual components. The company presented details of the new method in the September issue of the engineering magazine MTZ ("Powertrain synthesis for the design of complex system configurations").

In Aachen IAV will be showing a configurator that lets visitors generate various powertrain variants directly at the IAV booth, with possibilities for a "live" comparison of the characteristics in terms of consumption, performance and costs.

Self-learning throttle valve as example for the digital powertrain

The IAV booth will also include a test bench where visitors can connect five used throttle valves of different makes to a control system. Machine learning and an adaptive control system let the algorithm adjust to the individual characteristics of the respective throttle valve in just a few seconds while ensuring optimum operational behavior by moving swiftly and reliably to the required position without overshoot. At the touch of a button, a monitor shows how the controller parameters readjust until the setpoint and actual values match.

This not only makes it much easier to replace throttle valves. Permanent self-learning control systems also mean that ageing effects or production tolerances no longer impact on performance. Finally, the innovative approach simplifies calibration as well, because machine learning can also automate calibration of the throttle valve control system.

"Machine learning and adaptive control systems can be integrated into control units and are also suitable for other components, from oil pressure via camshafts through to asynchronous machines", says Dr. Dieter Schwarzmann, Head of the Center of Excellence for Control Engineering at IAV. "But these are just one example of what we understand by digital powertrain. Many components need to be controlled individually – and this is something that IAV has specialized in for decades". At the IAV Center of Excellence for Control Engineering, an interdisciplinary team of mathematicians and software engineers works alongside experts for optimization, measuring systems, signal processing and simulation using state-of-the-art methods and cultivating many contacts with the world of science so that even upcoming trends are integrated early on in the development process up to the level of manufacturing readiness. IAV is thus the only engineering partner to guarantee its customers defined controller performance, such as nominal and worst-case behavior.