Continental, Knorr develop autonomous driving platform for trucks

Continental, Knorr develop autonomous driving platform for trucks
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Automotive suppliers Continental and Knorr-Bremse AG have entered into a partnership to develop a complete system solution for highly automated driving (HAD) in commercial vehicles of all sizes. The initial focus will be on platooning, followed by a platform for completely autonomous driving.
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

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The cooperation covers all functions for driver assistance and highly automated driving. The system includes environment recognition, timetable planning and decision making as well as control of the actuator systems involved such as steering and braking systems in the vehicle and human-machine interaction. The latter comprises the exchange of information between man and vehicle.

The cooperation between Knorr Bremse (Munich, Germany), the world market leader for braking systems for rail and commercial vehicles, and the Hanover-based technology company will initially focus on platooning. Further development will be followed by automated driving in highway environments (Highway Pilot). In addition to system solutions, both companies will continue to offer their respective functionalities, components and subsystems individually on request, enabling them to respond flexibly to customer requirements. In future, Knorr-Bremse will offer the complete system solution to commercial vehicle manufacturers in Europe, North America and Asia. The joint platooning demonstrator, a column of three interlinked trucks from different manufacturers, is expected to demonstrate its capabilities to selected customers from early 2019 onwards.

At the environment recognition level, Continental will supply the various radar and lidar sensors, cameras and connectivity technologies for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X) communication. Continental also provides the processing platform and algorithms to create a model of the respective environment acquired through the sensor data. Such a model is a central prerequisite for automated driving, because it enables the truck to orient itself in its environment: It recognizes objects and defines lanes, takes applicable rules into account, and uses connectivity to provide additional information that lies outside the sensors’ range of vision. As part of the development partnership, Continental is also responsible for human-machine interaction, which makes communication between driver and truck possible.


At the level of trajectory planning and decision making, Continental supplies the basic functions used in the passenger car market, including the control unit for automated driving functions. Due to the wide variety of different vehicle types, the driving dynamics of commercial vehicles are much more complex than those of passenger cars. Knorr-Bremse is contributing know-how to the partnership with its Truck Motion Controller based on its brake system control GSBC. In addition, Knorr’s expertise has mastered the following factors which have a major influence on driving characteristics: the combination of towing vehicle and trailer, vehicle length, number of axles, single- or multi-unit combinations, load distribution, height of center of gravity, torsionally soft frames, etc. Knorr-Bremse masters all relevant components at the actuator level, i.e. the implementation of the driving decision in the specific control processes in the vehicle. This includes above all the steering and braking systems, but also the control of individual components in the driveline.

In addition to the development of automation functions, the intelligent redundancy concept is crucial to the success of highly automated driving. If the automatic system takes over the control, it must be designed in such a way that the vehicle does not get out of control even if electronic subsystems fail. The simple doubling of critical components is not economically feasible. The redundancy concept for steering developed by Knorr-Bremse shows that the necessary vehicle know-how can compensate for the failure of the active steering system without having to install the corresponding components twice. Only if the entire system – including the redundancy structure – functions as intended can the driver turn to other tasks while driving.

By collaborating on highly automated driving, the two companies are also making a contribution to more efficient driving, for example through platooning, which can save up to 15 percent fuel and reduce vehicle emissions accordingly. In addition, the automation of individual driving functions such as lane change, driving on the construction site or emergency braking will ensure that commercial vehicles drive more safely in the future. The partners regard a period of 3-4 years, depending on the vehicle manufacturer, as realistic until platooning columns could drive on selected roads in series production. The legal framework conditions, such as the minimum distance between vehicles, will play an important role here.

 

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