❱❱ A motion controlled soft pedestrian target is synchronised with the test vehicle to place the two on a collision course to test ADAS, below left; control of the drive-by-wire Kia is completely hands free, with the driver acting as a guardian and emergency stop operator if necessary, below; the Flex-0 controller uses the car’s CAN protocol to control the vehicle and retrieve data to feed back through telemetry

FLEX-0 CONTROL The Flex-0 controls the vehicle’s built-in actuators via CAN or drive-by-wire. The controller communicates with the vehicle’s systems using a standard CAN protocol supplied by AB Dynamics, which can be translated by the customer into a form accepted by the vehicle. Because it’s contained in a “black box”,

the functions of the Flex-0 reduce the amount of hardware required in the test vehicle. Its dual CAN interfaces provide both control and data capture functions for post-test analysis. The Flex-0 can be used as part of a

driverless test system (DTS) for performing tests without the need for a driver in the vehicle. When used in this way, the Flex-0 can be interfaced with an auxiliary safety brake and ignition kill system (SBrake) to bring the vehicle to a complete halt in the event of a failure of the main control system or a failure of the CAN communications to the vehicle. The Flex-0 and SBrake continuously

send watchdog signals between each other so that if one fails, the other can attempt to stop the vehicle. In addition, both are

connected to a base station via a radio link which enables the vehicle to be programmed and controlled remotely.

PUTTING IT TO THE TEST AB Dynamics project engineer, Tom Markham, was conducting the demonstrations at Silverstone of the test capabilities of the Flex-0 connected vehicle control and synchronised soft target. The Kia Niro was fitted out with the

Flex-0 black box controlling the native actuators in the vehicle and connected to a control computer and the control centre in a nearby temporary building. The building was occupied by Markham’s colleague who set up the synchronisation, controlled the test and received the telematic signals back from the car. Effectively, both Markham in the

driving seat and I along side him, were both passengers. All the control functions were performed remotely and by the Flex- 0 black box. Apart from holding the kill switch, Markham didn’t touch any of the vehicle controls throughout the test. After following a carefully

choreographed positioning, synchronisation and calibration exercise, both the car and soft target dummy arrived in their relative starting positions. “Put your seat belt on, you’re going to

need it,” Markham tells me. Once the test starts, both the vehicle and the soft target pedestrian began moving along their predicted and programmed paths before the pedestrian made an abrupt swerve and the synchronised paths began to converge. As a driver, you can see what’s going to

happen long before automatic systems can and it was clear that a collision was imminent when I thrust my foot hard into the footwell to no avail. The delay seemed too long to avoid a collision but at the final moment the brakes slammed on and another collision was avoided. As Markham explained, the braking was

performed by the ADAS system under test, not by the automatic control system. The car isn’t pre-programmed to stop by the Flex-0 or the AB Dynamics software. They just drive the vehicle; it’s up to the car’s own safety systems to avoid a crash, a task that the Kia performed well. T&TH

June 2019 /// Testing & Test Houses /// 31

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