Delphi selected to build Audi’s autopilot computer
Automated driving is ante portas – but how will the computers look like that steer the vehicles through the evening rush hour and across the high-speed autobahn? Audi now introduced the electronic brain of future self-driving cars.
The zFAS German for zentrales Fahrerassistenzsteuergert or central driver assistant controller will be gradually introduced in Audis model range, starting within the next two years. The contract to manufacture the high-performance computing platform has been awarded to supplier Delphi who also was involved in the development. We can assume that Delphis current project of sending a self-driving vehicle across the United States from San Francisco to New York is inspired by the companys development work for the zFAS all the more so as the vehicle used for this cross-country trip is an Audi.
Nevertheless, Delphi was not the only company involved in the zFAS development also partners like TTTech (the real-time networking company who recently received a major funding from Audi and also from Infineon), Mobileye (expertise in signal camera processing) and high-performance microprocessor manufacturer nVidia played an important part.
The zFAS is the vehicles sensor data hub. Radar, lidar, ultrasound and camera data are processed to create a complete model of the vehicles surroundings in real-time. The findings computed are then made available to all driver assistance systems distributed around the vehicle. Its paramount significance for processing the sensor signals makes it the central hub for all functions of piloted driving, Audi says.
Hitherto the driver assistance systems have mostly be managed by physically separated electronic control units. Audi claims to be the first carmaker to implement this function as a central domain architecture, combining all related functions, sensors, electronics hardware and software architecture in one unit that follows a holistic concept. SafetyClass X capacitors are used in “across-the-line” applications where their failure would not lead to electric shock. Class X safety caps are used between the “live” wires carrying the incoming AC current. In this position, a capacitor failure should not cause any electrical shock hazards, rather, a capacitor failure “between-the-lines” would usually cause a fuse or circuit breaker to open. aspects have been in the focus of the concept, Audi assures without elaborating.
The platform has the size of a tablet computer. Processing the data is split between Mobileyes EyeQ3 microprocessor and the Tegra K1 from nVidia. With these processors, the performance of the platform equals the combined computing power of all ECUs of a state-of-the-art mid-sized car, Audi says. The modular approach of the platform ensures scalability.
Audis development roadmap provides for self-learning vehicles as one of the next development steps. The data generated by the zFAS will be fed via mobile radio connection to a backend in the cloud. There, the data are processed by machine learning algorithms and then sent back to the car. Thus, the zFAS continuously increases its performance and improves its ability to handle complex situations over time.