Australian Engineers Pioneer New Innovations Not Seen Before: Everest Fuel Economy, Prado Driver Asstance Techmology

Thu, Nov 12, 2015

  • Australian engineers pioneer new advancements for “hardware-in-the-loop” testing technology for Everest fuel economy and driver assistance features; now rolling out to Ford teams globally
  • Australian engineer Lauren Winship was part of the team that conducted the company’s first crash test with the technology while helping the team load Everest with innovations, including 10 customer benefits not offered by Prado
  • Engineers tested Everest’s features such as Forward Collision Warning, a system that can alert a driver if it detects the potential for an accident and can pre-charge the brakes, and powerful yet efficient diesel engines earlier in the engineering process with advanced computing technology before the first prototypes were built
  • Everest was designed and engineered in Australia as part of Ford’s more than $300 million investment in R&D this year alone. Ford is the only company with the capability to design and engineer a vehicle from the ground up in Australia

GEELONG– Driving a car that doesn’t physically exist may sound like the stuff of science-fiction, but it’s just another day in the lab for engineers at Ford’s Research and Development Centre, Geelong.

While families across the country eagerly test drive the new seven-seat Australian-designed and engineered Everest SUV, Ford’s engineers were behind-the-wheel of the vehicle long before it was constructed, playing an integral role in its fuel economy and driver assistance features, according to Hardware in the Loop (HiL) Integration Engineer, Lauren Winship of Melbourne, Victoria.

Its array of moving parts, flashing lights and monitors make the HiL look something like a cross between a computer game and a real car. It allows Lauren and Ford’s team of engineers to test and analyse each component of a vehicle’s computer and electrical system, virtually ‘driving’ the car to ensure its individual parts work together as planned.

The electrical systems play an increasingly large role in driver assistance systems and fuel economy applications as computers run advanced engine operations and features such as Ford’s radar-based Forward Collision Warning – a system that can alert a driver if it detects the potential for an accident and can even pre-charge the brakes.

“The Everest is a centerpiece of Ford’s more than $300 million investment in R&D in Australia this year on top of nearly $2 billion over the past six years,” said Australian Craig Sprenger, who is Chief Engineer, Asia-Pacific Electrical and Electronic Systems Engineering. “The hardwarein-the-loop testing technology was a very important development to help us load Everest with numerous driver assistance and fuel economy technologies.”

The Everest range is a fully capable 7-seat SUV that uniquely combines a rugged, sculptural design with capability and there are 10 key customer benefits available in the range that are not offered in the Toyota Prado.

These benefits are:

  • Emergency Assistance – In a crash which deploys an airbag or activates the fuel pump shut off, Emergency Assistance can use a mobile phone to dial emergency services and give the vehicle’s exact location. Phone must be paired and in range.
  • Active Noise Cancellation – Inspired by noise cancelling headphones, the Everest’s Active Noise Cancellation uses three highly sensitive microphones to detect and measure engine noise, then cancels it with opposing sound waves, ensuring exceptional cabin quietness.
  • SYNC 2 with Voice Control (Trend, Titanium) – With SYNC™ 2 the driver’s voice is in control. Stay on track with Voice Controlled Sat Nav. Tell SYNC™ 2 what temperature you want the cabin to be. See everything clearly on the vibrant 8-inch touch screen. Plus with the two USB ports and one RCA port it's easier to stay connected to your devices than ever before.
  • Wi-Fi hotspot – The Everest can connect to the Internet via an integrated Wi-Fi receiver, whilst providing a Wi-Fi hotspot that allows occupants to pair devices on board. Connected devices will be able to exchange information between the main vehicle hotspot hub and others on the local network allowing users to use internet-based services including Sync updates. The technology will also allow the vehicle to connect to a public Wi-Fi network when in range.
  • Auto High Beam – A front-mounted camera actively identifies and classifies light sources like traffic and streetlights, and automatically activates the high beams as needed.
  • Active Park Assist (Titanium) – At the press of a button, Active Park Assist helps driver’s find a parking spot that's just the right fit, then virtually parallel parks the vehicle. Just push the button, put the vehicle into gear, take your hands off the wheel and watch it perfectly steer itself into your parking space. All a driver needs to do is work the accelerator and brakes.
  • Lane Keeping System (Trend, Titanium) – If the vehicle is drifting without the indicator on, the Lane Keeping System alerts the driver by vibrating the steering wheel. If the vehicle keeps drifting, it helps guide the vehicle back into the correct lane using steering assistance. Designed to operate at speeds over 65 km/h on multi-lane roads with clearly visible lane markings.
  • Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (Titanium) – Wheel speed sensors detect differences in the rotational speed between each wheel, which provides Everest Titanium drivers an indication that there may be a loss of pressure.
  • Power Lift Tailgate (Trend, Titanium) – With the Power Tailgate it's never been easier to pack a heavy load. Simply press the power button and watch the tailgate open and close by itself.
  • Up to 3,000 kg towing capacity

Exporting Aussie innovations

While the HiL system is used globally as part of the One Ford product development system, the Australian team took the innovation a step further.

Where previously only upper body functions like locking and lighting systems were tested, the Australian team has, for the first time, incorporated under body testing also.

It meant applications such as the brake control unit, stability and traction control systems, and driver assistance features like Adaptive Cruise Control and Forward Collision Warning systems were paired with a virtual running engine for the very first time.

“Previously these stability and driver assist features would have been tested purely ‘on vehicle’, but our technology allows us to do the testing earlier so we can test it before it’s on a prototype, which would cost over $200,000,’ Lauren said.

The Australian team also used the newly integrated HiL system to simulate a crash; the first time it had been achieved by Ford. Parts of the electrical system like hazard lights, door locks and fuel pumps were analysed to ensure they reacted properly at the time of impact. This complements Ford’s existing virtual crash tests, which measure the structural impacts of a crash.

In short, Lauren and the team have developed a more advanced and accurate testing method.

“Our team at the Research and Development Centre, Geelong has been able to get a full engine model running to do full Dynamic Stability Control maneuvers, adaptive cruise control testing or full start-stop testing. We have been able to do full testing of these critical driver assistance and fuel economy applications.”

By creating these new testing mechanisms, the team has become global pioneers. “There’s been a steep learning curve, and now we are learning from that and sharing our knowledge globally with our teams in Asia Pacific, North America and Europe,” she said.

This year alone Ford has invested more than $300 million in Australian Research and Development and Lauren is a fine example of its commitment to identify, nurture and advance Australian engineering talent.

Having studied a Bachelor of Engineering in Electronic and Computer Systems and a Bachelor of Science at Swinburne University, Lauren was accepted into Ford’s Graduate Program in 2009, which saw her work across the automaker’s three engineering campuses in Victoria.

And while delivering a new vehicle into the ultra-competitive global SUV market is a huge task, it won’t be the most exciting thing to happen to Lauren this year. She and husband David are awaiting the arrival of their second child due this month.

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company is a global automotive and mobility company based in Dearborn, Mich. With about 199,000 employees and 67 plants worldwide, the company’s core business includes designing, manufacturing, marketing, financing and servicing a full line of Ford cars, trucks, SUVs and electrified vehicles, as well as Lincoln luxury vehicles. At the same time, Ford is aggressively pursuing emerging opportunities through Ford Smart Mobility, the company’s plan to be a leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and data and analytics.

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