Piloted driving is fast becoming a reality. With its key enabling technologies, AUDI has identified TTTech by striving for the best and most mature safety technologies in the market, for this important automotive innovation. Compact central driving controller unit makes automated driving possible. Audi has chosen Delphi as the future system supplier for the zFAS electronics board.
The zFAS greatly reduces the number of electronic control units. The zFAS, scheduled to enter series production in the next version of the A8 top-class sedan due end of 2017, unites multiple computing tasks on one powerful main board. Its most demanding role is sensor fusion, Where, the signals from multiple sensors like stereo cameras, radar, multi-axis acceleration sensors and, lidar sensors are merged and transformed into a 360-degree digital environmental model, which in turn is used by all the driver assistance systems.
In the zFAS, multiple microprocessors and microcontrollers share the workload. Basically, an application processor handles the compute-intensive image processing and low-level data fusion tasks; the host processor is responsible for the safety-critical aspects like object fusion, decision making and vehicle communication as shown in the block diagram.
Audi uses processors like Tegra K1 for most of its tasks related to graphical computing. But since the car is equipped with a lot of sensors which produce a lot of data, therefore, two processors have been used Tegra K1 and the EyeQ3 SoC. The data from the four surrounding cameras is processed by Tegra which is further used to assist the driver while parking.
Challenges solved by the use of zFAS
The major challenges which have been solved by Audi zFAS are traffic jams and parking issues and experience a new level of performance and safety in fully featured vehicles.
The three main challenges which the Audi A8 has to face are “The legal framework needs to be in place for the country, homologation needs to be fulfilled, and in every state and country, you need to do extensive testing and validation. All three need to be met for us to bring this to market starting 2018.”
The increasing movement toward piloted systems has an effect on how automakers design the vehicles electronic architecture. For one, the architecture needs to be redundant. Second, there is the issue of what “central brains” will control all the actuators and sensors. zFAS is one; there will be more.
A8 would be using Audi’s zFAS system for autonomous driving powered by for image recognition, instead of using the Drive PX2. For self-driving technology, Audi and Mobileye are also having a partnership. While the platform is having the highest processing speed, it’s still just limited to ‘Level 2’ driving as speed is not the only relevant option for any platform. Level 3 driving should be highly safe. The Drive PX2 doesn’t provide the required safety characteristics, thus, it won’t be used in the mass-production phase of autonomous driving, yet.
A wide range of sensor information comes together in the zFAS. This information is thus used by the controller to quickly compute a model of the vehicle surroundings and thus makes this information available for various assistance systems. It is thus the central interface for all piloted driving functions. In the near future, Audi connect will enable the piloted cars from Audi to also learn continuously as they drive.