“Autonomous driving will totally transform the automobile industry,” says the Paravan founder and CEO of the Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG Roland Arnold. “As a key enabler of this, Paravan’s Space Drive drive-by-wire technology is a springboard for the greatest transformation in automotive history.”
“We have the road-licensed, certified steering technology that is needed to make self-driving cars a reality, so we have a bighead-start on the future,” says Arnold. “Space Drive II is the world’s only triple-redundant drive-by-wire system for controlling acceleration, braking and steering that’s certified to the world’s highest quality and production standards (ISO 26262 ASIL D) and is TÜV licensed for on-road use. These characteristics mean it is ready right now for use and retrofitting in Stage 4 and 5 – i.e. fully automated – driverless vehicle applications.” The Space Drive system provides a safe, reliable interface between vehicle AI and sensor systems on the one hand, and the braking, accelerator and steering systems on the other. It includes a steer-by-wire steering system that will in future eliminate the need for a mechanical connection – i.e. a steering column – between the steering wheel and front wheels, thereby opening up completely new realms of flexibility in cab design.
Schaeffler group recognised the relevance of the drive-by-wire technology of Paravan GmbH and founded the joint venture Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG together with Roland Arnold, the owner of Paravan GmbH, on 12 September 2018. Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG has assumed the drive-by-wire technology and all connected activities of Paravan GmbH since 1. October 2018 and will continue to develop the technology. "By acquiring the tried and tested 'drive-by-wire' technology, we are accessing a key technology that will enable us to get a technological foothold on the strongly growing future market of 'autonomous driving'," said Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Gutzmer, deputy chairman of the board and technology director, about the reasons for this acquisition.
"The Schaeffler Mover demonstrates our commitment to being an innovative partner for mechatronic chassis systems and to further growing this capability and thereby positioning ourselves in the medium term as a leading provider of rolling chassis systems", says Dr. Dirk Kesselgruber, head of the business division Chassis Systems at Schaeffler and managing Director of the Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG. "Our Schaeffler Mover technology is primarily a platform for developing and industrializing future products for auto manufacturers. SPACE DRIVE is a functionally safe and reliable foundation for these products, and we will therefore actively pursue its systematic and customer-centric further development and refinement under the joint venture. It is possible that in the future we may also develop integrated vehicle platforms for logistics and service companies."
Driverless car development is widening beyond AI and sensors and is increasingly focusing on safety and the need for redundant, fail-safe vehicle control systems – a trend that has doubtless gained added momentum from the recent accidents in the USA. “It is a mistake to view sensors and the processing of sensor data in isolation from the vehicle’s mechanical systems,” explains Rolf Gramenske, the project director in charge of drive-by-wire technology at Schaeffler Paravan. “The Schaeffler Paravan system is the world’s only road-legal system to close this gap.”
“A key feature of our system is its management of multiple-redundant interfaces between the sensors, driving intelligence system and the drive-by-wire technology. This makes the system unique. What’s more, we have many years of experience. We have completed over 7,000 car conversions, and our technology has notched up over 500 million kilometers of on-road driving,” Gramenske says. He notes that this type of redundancy is all too often overlooked in trials of driverless vehicle technologies. “Having redundancy in the sensor systems is pointless if the basic operating technology, namely acceleration/deceleration, braking and steering, do not also have the necessary built-in redundancy. Lack of redundancy in this area is very risky.” Paravan equips prototypes, concept cars and show cars from big-name car makers with its SPACE DRIVE II technology at its “Mobility Parc” facility in Aichelau. The company’s engineers develop individualized solutions for each use scenario.
General information on the demonstration vehicles on display
1. Vito (joint project), Paravan component
Disability-friendly vehicle conversion featuring the “Space Drive II” drive-by-wire system, without wheelchair lift. The van can be driven in three different modes:
1. Classic: using conventional mechanical steering column, steering wheel and pedals
2. Using a four-way joystick, e.g. as a mobility solution for drivers with disabilities
3. Autonomous: using the integrated CAN interface
The Paravan Space Drive system has a special software adaptation. The autonomous system (e.g. NVIDIA controller and sensors) is connected to the vehicle via a modified CAN interface. The multiple redundant Space Drive system uses two independent CAN buses as a communication interface. The certified safety concept includes a dedicated battery backup system. The Space Drive drive-by-wire system is licensed for on-road use in accordance with ECE-R13 and ECE-R79, is EMC tested in accordance with ECE-R10 and meets the functional safety requirements of ISO 26262 ASIL D.
2. Paravan Motionboard – Open-air site and entrance area
The Paravan Motionboard is an inclusive mobility platform powered by two Schaeffler electric wheel hub motors. It is equipped with a Space Drive system, a wheelchair lift, and a docking station for securing the wheelchair in place. The vehicle has no mechanical steering column, steering wheel or pedals. Instead, it is either driven using a four-way joystick or operated autonomously using the inbuilt Ibeo sensor systems. A safety driver can re-take control via joystick. “The Motionboard by Paravan is a future-defining mobility concept, not to mention the world’s first road-legal vehicle without a steering column. For this vehicle, our drive-by-wire technology has been systematically developed and augmented with special electronic and sensor systems to enable autonomous driving,” explains Andreas Frisch from Schaeffler Paravan.
3. Space Drive demonstration car, Stand No. S15
Space Drive system, fully functional and with all components, retrofitted in a Vito in such a way that it is discreetly hidden from view. Used to demonstrate the system’s functionality and control options and to showcase the safety features. ISO 26262 ASIL D certified.
4. Schaeffler Mover, Stand No. S14
Featuring electric wheel hub drive motors and a 90-degree steering angle, the Schaeffler Mover is a highly versatile platform that can support a wide range of vehicle bodies, such as autonomous taxis and delivery vehicles. The drive and chassis components are integrated in ultra-compact ‘Schaeffler Intelligent Corner Modules’ in each wheel. Each module comprises a wheel hub motor, wheel suspension including spring system, and an actuator for the electromechanical steering system. The wheel suspension design enables a steering angle of up to 90 degrees, giving the vehicle a turning radius of less than five meters and making it extremely maneuverable in busy city traffic. The high level of integration of all inbuilt components also means the platform can support a wide range of vehicle bodies for passenger and goods transport, without requiring any modifications to the drive system or chassis.