The IESE ConceptCars
The IESE ConceptCars are 1:5 scale model cars developed and used by Fraunhofer IESE as an open research and education platform. Just like a big car, each ConceptCar hosts a series of electronic control units (ECUs), which are responsible for different tasks and communicate via a CAN bus. Each of these control units contains software running on a microcontroller, e.g., for controlling brakes or the electronic speed actuator. This small but realistic platform helps to examine many problems, technologies, and software engineering approaches that arise during the development of larger embedded systems. It features access to real-world driving dynamics including speed and acceleration data, motor and brake control, and offers reasonable computation power and wireless communication. And it is still extensible.
A considerable part of software for embedded systems deals with the control of physical environmental quantities and electronic components. The complete development of the ConceptCar control units including all aspects from hardware design to software implementation provides a sound and realistic basis for further research and development in this area. The ConceptCar is thus part of research projects testing methodological approaches to “systems engineering” (like view-based architectural models) or innovative control concepts. In a collaboration project with an automotive supplier, for example, possibilities for the outsourcing of car services to the “Cloud” have been examined and prototypically realized on the ConceptCar.
The ConceptCar offers a technically attractive basic system, whose complexity can be scaled ‐ depending on the modules and software employed – from a simple remote-controlled model car to a complex distributed embedded system. This makes it an interesting education and learning platform for both high school and university students, as well as for adults with professional experience. On the one hand, theoretical and practical exercises can be designed with typical development problems from the ConceptCar’s application context. The distance study program Master of Software Engineering for Embedded Systems (MSE) offered by the University of Kaiserslautern and Fraunhofer IESE, for instance, uses the ConceptCar as a basis for the development of an adaptive cruise control system. On the other hand, the further development of the ConceptCar itself is frequently carried out by students, e.g., the inertial sensor module and the battery management system were designed in the context of Bachelor’s theses (FH Kaiserslautern), and the combination of a car simulation model (Simulink) with a real control unit was part of a student research project (TU Kaiserslautern).
Many scenarios of new directions in automative engineering, such as autonomous driving, car-to-car communication, or online health checks can be implemented as a prototype on the ConceptCar. Using a real car instead, would require to worry about issues like driver safety or admittance to public roads. The ConceptCar is realistic and flexible enough to cover many different areas from car communication security, through deep-learning approaches for sensor data evaluation to dynamic download of firmware plug-ins, so that impressive demonstrations of upcoming applications become straight-forward.
The ConceptCar is intended as an open platform so that software and development documents are made available under widely permissive licenses and you are encouraged to try or reuse this material that covers
- a software platform implementation for different (embedded) targets
- a framework for embedded software development integrating free software development tools
- hardware schematics and PCB layouts
Besides, it is possible to bring the ConceptCar(s) as an experimentation or demonstration platform into your research project. This usually requires cooperation with Fraunhofer IESE in order to adapt and maintain the cars. Feel free to contact us.
The ConceptCar constituents have been developed over years based on contributions from IESE employees, student projects and voluntary work. Since it was often impossible to thoroughly test the resulting components, we are interested in the identification of any problems or possible improvements in software and hardware. Please let us know your recommendations and ideas for new features.