Test bench on four wheels
High-performance laser on the vehicle's roof
Camera in the vehicle cabin
TU (Technische Universität) Braunschweig
Computer in the vehicle's boot
10/06/2015

Test bench on four wheels – BFFT has converted two Audi A6 vehicles for TU Braunschweig

BFFT, the automotive engineering developer, has converted two Audi A6 vehicles into test bench vehicles. TU Braunschweig wishes to use these vehicles to test sensors and carry out autonomous driving studies.

Ingolstadt (06 October 2015) – TU (Technische Universität) Braunschweig purchased two brand-new Audi A6 vehicles in autumn 2014 as the basis for two large-scale devices funded by the German Research Foundation. Together with a sophisticated specification sheet, it handed the vehicles over to BFFT, the automotive engineering developer from Ingolstadt. The vehicles were barely recognizable when the research association based in Lower Saxony recently re-assumed ownership of the two Audis: The boot was crammed full of technology, numerous futuristic fixtures were installed on the roof, bumpers and doors and the cabin was equipped with cameras, flashing buttons and screens.

BFFT has equipped the first vehicle with a total of 14 interfaces for various ultrasound, radar and camera sensors. A high-performance laser on the roof, an ultra-accurate GPS on the back seat as well as numerous cameras in and on the vehicle all serve as reference sensors. The sensors can be individually activated and flexibly mounted, e.g. using suction cups on the doors. The data is evaluated by five high-performance computers via CAN or Ethernet. A further PC controls three screens in order to visualize the data. The desktop interface can be displayed on the Audi Multi Media Interface (MMI) display via special hardware produced by BFFT. The system requires up to 500 Ampere from the on-board power supply – more than it can handle. Therefore, BFFT experts installed prototype generators and adapted the cable cross-sections to meet the power demands. In addition to the 12 V voltage range, the user now can select between 5, 24 or 220 V. Thanks to the sensors, the vehicle always “knows” where it is and whether obstacles stand in its path. During the next step, BFFT altered vehicle networking and drive train. These conversions mean that the vehicle can travel autonomously, i. e. without a driver. The Braunschweig scientists wish to use it to test sensors: Which sensor provides the best results and for what? What can be achieved by combining multiple sensors?

Following conversion in the BFFT workshops, the second vehicle can also be driven autonomously. The special features on this “Vehicle-in-the-Loop” include the camera in the vehicle interior as well as the networking of the Audi MMI with the “Head-Up-Display”. The BFFT specialists also integrated connections for a special virtual reality headset. As a result, the driver sees a “virtual” environment whilst driving the vehicle on a test route. TU Braunschweig wishes to use the second converted Audi A6 as a mobile test bench for voluntary studies into driver behaviour.

“We had to install so many sensors and electronics into the vehicle. This presented us with immense challenges in terms of space, wheel load, thermal characteristics, power demands and user-friendliness”, explains BFFT project manager Florian Pfeiffer. Nevertheless, the Ingolstadt-based experts were able to handover the vehicles to their client from Braunschweig after only eight months –barely-recognizable, as desired.

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