Audi mastermind for piloted driving:the central driver assistance controller

The central driver assistance controller (zFAS) is the core of future systems for piloted driving under development by Audi. This mastermind uses cutting edge, high performance processors and will work its way into the model range step by step in the foreseeable future. It is a key milestone on the road to new, automated driving functions and a demonstration of the pioneering role that Audi is assuming in the field of piloted driving. The technologies specialist Delphi has been awarded the contract for series productions.

Audi developed this elemental control center in collaboration with internationally leading technology partners. Under the direction of Audi, a team of specialists from TTTech, Mobileye, nVidia and Delphi jointly developed the various hardware and software components. Audi has chosen Delphi as the future system supplier for the zFAS electronics board.

A wide range of sensor information comes together in the zFAS. The controller uses this to quickly compute a complete model of the vehicle surroundings and makes this information available to the various assistance systems. It is thus the central interface for all piloted driving functions.

At the moment, most driver assistance systems are managed by spatially separated controllers. In the future, Audi will be the first automobile manufacturer to implement this function in a central domain architecture. Audi has taken a holistic approach to consolidate the portfolio of functions, the sensors necessary, the electronics hardware and the software architecture into a central system. From the very beginning, the primary focus was on the safety concept.

High‑performance electronic components are a prerequisite for high‑powered computing in a compact package. The zFAS board is equipped with both the EyeQ3 mobile processor from Mobileye and the new Tegra K1 from nVidia. The tremendous computing power provided by this solution corresponds to the complete electronics architecture of a well-equipped mid-size car. Thanks to the high degree of integration, the new board is barely the size of a tablet PC. Its modular concept makes the zFAS flexible scalable and thus future-proof in every respect.

Audi is also working with leading suppliers such as Bosch, Continental, Valeo and Delphi on the sensors and actuating elements, such as braking and steering systems. The objective is to develop common standards and offer customers modern driver assistance systems for greater safety, comfort and convenience on the road to fully automatic driving.

In the near future, Audi connect will enable the piloted cars from Audi to also learn continuously as they drive. The data computed by the zFAS board will be transferred via the cellular phone network — via LTE, where available — to an IT backend in the cloud. This will process these data using algorithms for machine learning and artificial intelligence before sending the data back to the car. The zFAS board will in this way continuously extend its capabilities to master even complex situations increasingly better. The piloted cars from Audi thus learn more every day and with each new situation they experience.

Audi drivers impressed by RS 5 DTM

At the first official DTM track tests of the year, the Audi RS 5 DTM left a strong impression.

From Wednesday to Friday this week, the DTM tested on the race track at Estoril (Portugal) on which the internationally popular touring car racing series last held a race in 2004. “Unfortunately, the external conditions weren’t exactly optimal,“ says Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport. “On the first and on the last day, we had very strong gusty winds. On the second day, there was intermittent rain. It won’t be easy to draw the right conclusions from the test results. But after the long winter break, it was extremely important for our drivers to get a lot of driving time and to get an idea of the set-up work that was done over the winter months. We’re pleased that our drivers immediately felt comfortable again in the RS 5 DTM and made positive comments about the basic set-up that was worked out in winter.“

All eight Audi drivers participated in the tests on the Portuguese Atlantic coast. Each of the three Audi Sport Teams (Abt Sportsline, Phoenix and Rosberg) had a 2015-specification race car at Estoril, plus there was a test car from Audi Sport that was equipped with additional sensors and measuring instruments shared by Mattias Ekström and Miguel Molina.

“The whole team did a good job in winter,” Timo Scheider, the 2008 and 2009 DTM Champion, said after the test. “This was the first time for me to sit in the RS 5 DTM since the finale at Hockenheim and I immediately felt comfortable. The car is superbly balanced.”

This impression was confirmed by all Audi drivers, who reeled off a total of 1,382 laps and 5,779 kilometers on the three days. Except for a minor slip by Adrien Tambay on Thursday afternoon, the test went without any problems for Audi. In four of the six test sessions, an Audi RS 5 DTM was listed in first place.

The fastest lap of the tests was performed by youngster Nico Müller, who in the Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM of his team-mate Jamie Green achieved a best time of 1m 32.443s on the last day. “It was great for me to be able to test for two full days,” said the 23-year-old Swiss. “We don’t have a lot of testing opportunities in the DTM. Obviously, the weather hampered our testing program a little. But the items we checked off were positive.”

At Estoril, all Audi drivers worked together with their race engineers for the 2015 season for the first time. New to the Audi DTM squad is the Italian Nicola Palarchi, who supports Adrien Tambay in Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline. Starting this year, his previous engineer, Franco Chiocchetti, will be taking care of Edoardo Mortara’s RS 5 DTM. All other driver-engineer combinations have remained unchanged.

Before the season opener at Hockenheim on the first weekend in May, another official DTM test is scheduled at Oschersleben from April 14 to 16.

The test results of the Audi four RS 5 DTM at Estoril

Audi Sport Audi RS 5 DTM #17 (Audi Sport Team Abt)
Mattias Ekström (S), 147 laps (Wed), 1m 33.269 s (Wed)
Miguel Molina (E), 190 laps (Thur/Fri), 1m 32.673s (Fri)

Playboy Audi RS 5 DTM #27 (Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline)
Adrien Tambay (F), 193 laps (Wed/Thur), 1m 32.878s (Thur)
Edoardo Mortara (I), 114 laps (Fri), 1m 33,075s (Fri)

Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM #53 (Audi Sport Team Rosberg)
Jamie Green (GB), 127 laps (Wed), 1m 32.774s (Wed)
Nico Müller (CH), 243 laps (Thur/Fri), 1m 32.443s (Fri)

Schaeffler Audi RS 5 DTM #99 (Audi Sport Team Phoenix)
Mike Rockenfeller (D), 197 laps (Wed/Thur), 1m 32.804s (Thur)
Timo Scheider (D), 171 laps (Thur/Fri), 1m 32.586s (Fri)

The race engineers for the Audi Sport Teams in the 2015 DTM:

Mattias Ekström: Florian Modlinger
Jamie Green: Erich Baumgärtner
Miguel Molina: Markus Michelberger
Edoardo Mortara: Franco Chiocchetti
Nico Müller: Karl Jennings
Mike Rockenfeller: Jürgen Jungklaus
Timo Scheider: Laurent Fedacou
Adrien Tambay: Nicola Palarchi