Urban Assist - New safety system for urban transport

Interdisciplinary project to develop complex vehicle functions

Solving the problems of complex individual urban transport presents a major challenge. Increasingly, the choice of new comfort and safety functions for vehicles is based on the needs of residents in mega-cities. Safety is always one of the most important considerations when developing new vehicle functionality.

Joint project with Audi

During 2010 the Bertrandt Ingolstadt site worked together with Audi AG on an interesting and challenging project to meet the requirements of future urban transport. The goal of the Urban Assist project is to play a supporting role in cross-traffic by providing increased integrated side impact protection. A preliminary project in this area had been underway since 2008 based on the classic development process with different decentralised partners which provided services in the individual disciplines of design, simulation and testing. At the end of 2009, the team decided to make the project more creative and efficient by taking a different approach. The idea was born: to network the line functions for this highly complex project and not just on paper, but in one room and on a daily basis.

 

Developing cross-disciplinary solutions

The result is that the most important links in the chain focus on this objective and cooperate on implementing the project: the customer’s project management team and the specialists from the design, simulation, testing, electronics, sensor, vehicle communication and HMI (human-machine interface) groups, together with the organisation. The team members work together in a specially set up project area covering around 200 m² with an adjacent workshop. There are modern workplaces for up to 25 people which provide the ideal conditions for creative activity and allow the team members to see the results of their efforts in the vehicle every day. A tightly organised process with regular weekly status meetings allows Bertrandt to ensure that the project management team can follow every step of the development process in detail. This also guarantees easy communication via both internal and external interfaces. The engineers and technical specialists worked on the basis of the concept of cross-disciplinary problemsolving which means, for example, that a design engineer should talk to a sensor developer, despite the fact that their work involves totally different content. This fundamental networking concept was one of the numerous factors which contributed to the success of the project.

 

Networking guarantees a high level of project maturity

which ran for a specified period, the team constantly came up against cross-functional challenges, such as evaluating the quality of a function objectively and going far beyond the available vehicle safety test scenarios. The networked team made it possible to take issues like this and turn them directly into solutions, which resulted in the creation of innovative test facilities and dummies for testing active safety functions, among other things. One example is a mobile test bench designed to carry out controlled and non-destructive tests which involve impacts between the test vehicle and obstacles such as vehicle silhouettes and pedestrian dummies. The test specimens are made from lightweight foam covered with a flexible carbon material to ensure that they retain a specific shape and remain highly durable. The test bench which impels the objects against the vehicle with a high degree of accuracy has proved its worth in hot and cold climate tests, but nevertheless is undergoing further fine-tuning. In this context the question naturally arose as to how we could measure the benefit of a new vehicle function which provided additional comfort and could therefore be used to convince potential customers to buy the vehicle. In addition, we needed to consider how a complementary safety function which went beyond current requirements could be financed, because a significant proportion of the development costs would be spent on risk assessment. Furthermore, the new project organisation also allowed different vehicle functions to coordinate with one another which, for instance, used the same sensors or were affected by additional components. Examples of these functions included the seat and the door.

 

More mature solutions

Looking back it became clear that the bold move of linking together individual disciplines in a project structure resulted in the development of a variety of solutions with a high level of maturity which can easily be transferred to production development. The robust solutions that have been produced can now be passed on to the production development phase to provide safe and comfortable travel in the next generation of cars. Cross-project evaluation methods have been put in place and new objective test methods for active safety are now in regular use. The project has been a complete success both for Audi AG and for Bertrandt. The next stage will soon be starting, with the aim of creating a safer world.