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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Greg Gillette: What Does the Contols Team Do?

From my involvement with Wayne State University's EcoCAR 2 team, I have learned some initial concepts used in the product design process. The EcoCAR 2 competition has also taught me the responsibilities of the controls team and their role in a product design process. Although our implementation design doesn’t use regeneration braking, the concept was discussed. Those discussions provided an understanding of the technology.    
  My introduction to the DFMEA Spreadsheet and its usefulness in the product design process served as a tangible real world example of product development. The DFMEA list all possible product failures and critically ranks them based on their effects, primarily to safety of passengers/others and functionality of the vehicle. After defining the critical nature of the failures, response algorithms must be developed to minimize the effects of the failure to passenger safety as well as drivability. These algorithms are derived in Matlab software which in turns complies and transfers the simulation model into C+ Language. The code can then be downloaded and tested on the HIL (Dspace) to assure it's working properly before being programmed into the ECU.
In our hybrid implementation design, we are not utilizing regeneration braking technology. However the topic arose with my mentor and me, and he explained to me the basic concepts of the technology. This peaked my interest to do more research and gain more clarity about regeneration braking. After discovering that regeneration braking uses the kinetic energy from ABS braking system and transfers it into reusable electric energy, I understand why this concept is so useful in hybrid and electric cars.
The chief task of the controls team is to assure the functionality of the product by deriving algorithms based on safety critical analysis that will police the system for error and mitigate the effects of the failure.  Control system teams are an integral component to the product development process. Based on the success of the controls teams' ability to minimize product failure and insure safety to the end user will determine if product is worthy for production.  
Thanks to the EcoCAR 2 competition and my mentor my educational enrichment was made possible.

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