Cockpit der Zukunft mit Steerbywire
Space Drive Space Drive 3 AddOn Autonomous Driving

Space Drive drive-by-wire system paves the way to an autonomous future in the U.S.

Space Drive drive-by-wire system paves the way to an autonomous future in the U.S.

Which country is best equipped for the autonomous future of transport? A recent study by the British insurance website confused.com has a clear answer to this question. It's the USA.

Taking into account seven factors including legislation, technology and infrastructure, the land of unlimited possibilities achieved a score of 8.62/10, making it by far the most AV-ready country in the world, with top rankings in three important fields:

 

1. In total in the U.S. there are 50 AV companies, each with more than $50 million in capital – 39 more than second-placed Israel, and 47 more than the average.

 

2. The USA also owns by far the most AV-related patents, 127,570 (as of February 2022), over 100,000 more than South Korea, which ranks second.

 

3. Together with Germany and Japan the USA scored the maximum of 4/4 for legislation, making it one of only three nations that legally allow AVs on the road in more than a testing capacity.

 

A further breakthrough at federal level in March 2022 was the adoption of the regulation releasing car makers from the obligation to install manual controls, such as a steering wheel and pedals, in self-driving vehicles. On April 29, the U.S. state of Oklahoma gave the all-clear to operate self-driving cars on the open road, making it the 30th state to legislate in favor of autonomous vehicles.

Autofahren ohne Lenkrad und Pedale
Thanks to drive-by-wire, future autonomous vehicle con-cepts can do without a steering wheel and pedals. Photo: Schaeffler Paravan

Drive-by-wire is the indispensable basic technology for all autonomous vehicles. With Space Drive, Schaeffler Paravan offers a solution for retrofitting or upgrading these vehicles – one that has al-ready been used thousands of times. The system, which was originally developed as a mobility aid for people with physical disabilities, has been proving itself for more than 20 years in public transport on more than one billion kilometers. With over 9,000 systems installed, there is no better-proven system in the world than Space Drive.

Roland Arnold, CEO of Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG.

No autonomous vehicles without drive-by-wire

The foundation for this development was laid by PARAVAN GmbH under the leadership of founder and CEO Roland Arnold, who developed the technology – originally for adapting vehicles to accommodate the mobility needs of people with disabilities. Space Drive has ECE-R13 (brake) and ECE-R79 (steering) road approval and is approved in the U.S. for disabled mobility in 12 states. Space Drive is used in numerous autonomous shuttle vehicles worldwide, and has been used in the United States since 2016.

Space Drive drive-by-wire system ready for series production

The joint venture Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG is continuously developing the innovative driving and steering system. Space Drive 3 AddOn is designed for low-volume production – as per the autonomous vehicle fleets already widely used in the USA - and forms the basis for future large-scale integrated production solutions. To this end, it is engineered to comply with the standards and norms of the automotive industry and support the homologation of new vehicles under development. The multi-redundant system relies on a consistent safety concept for vehicles with functional safety relevance, developed according to the ASPICE process, and meets the requirements of the ISO 26262 safety standard.

 

The AUTOSAR-based system enables direct connection to the vehicle electronics as well as communication and network architecture. Automobile manufacturers also benefit from maximum scalability combined with the greatest possible scope for model- and vehicle-specific customization. This is an important milestone on the road to drive-by-wire in large-scale production - both for road vehicles and for people movers or vehicle solutions for off-highway operation on private industrial sites, such as ports, logistics centers or airports.

SPT Space Drive
Schaeffler Mover im Einsatz
Cockpit der Zukunft mit Steerbywire
People Mover autonom
Tesla ohne Lenkrad und Pedale

Mechatronic solutions for greater comfort and safety

If required, the development can be supplemented by a Hand Wheel Actuator (HWA) with force feedback module, which replaces the classic steering wheel and mechanical steering column with a mechatronic actuator system. This allows for optimization of the installation space and enables entirely new interior concepts – for example by stowing the steering wheel in the dashboard, which will play a particularly important role in semi-autonomous driving (level 3). The system also enables suppression of undesirable disturbances, such as harsh shocks from the road surface, and the realization of new handling functions through a variable steering ratio.

From track to road: motorsport accelerates development

Racing is traditionally regarded as a development accelerator. The engineers are using this approach to further develop Space Drive – under the toughest conditions and in a highly demanding environment. Space Drive was approved by the German Motor Sports Federation (DMSB) in 2019 and has been firmly anchored in the regulations of the DTM (and others) since 2020.

 

In the USA, Space Drive will be used in the IMSA series, while the "Indy Autonomous Challenge" has been using the Schaeffler Paravan system as a key technology of vehicle components since 2021.

 

The steering parameters of motorsports applications give rise to many new, data-driven development approaches. The idea is to record road conditions, analyze them and feed them back into the ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System). An important and central feature of data generation lies in increasing the safety and reliability of future autonomous driving systems. The data generated in the force-feedback steering unit can provide the control unit with not only the steering angle but also other information such as the condition of the road surface (grip level).

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Anke Leuschke