MOTOR Magazine

A MOTOR Magazine Newsletter
May 2, 2016

Contributed by Bob Chabot
Command and Control

Software and electronic controls will drive powertrain development

"The future of engine control strategies, emissions and vehicle electrification will be driven by software and electronics," asserted John Fuerst, Delphi Automotive Vice President for Engineering Power Systems. Fuerst outlined Delphi's vision in a recent interview with Tony Lewin, of Ricardo PLC, which it shared with MOTOR. A brief synopsis of the interview follows below. (Editor's note: The Levin-Fuerst interview, in its entirety, begins on page 8 in Ricardo PLC's Quarterly Review.)

The Delphi-Tula Dynamic Skip Fire Cylinder Deactivation System includes specially designed Delphi Valve Train Components and a Delphi Engine Control Module that features Dynamic Skip Fire Control Algorithms developed by Tula Technologies, Inc. (All images — Delphi Automotive)

More Technology Will be Integrated into Vehicles

"The average car today has more than 100 microprocessors, 50 electronic control units, five miles of wiring and 100 million lines of code — more than both a Boeing 787 Dreamliner or an F-35 fighter jet," Fuerst noted. "Delphi alone ships more than 20 billion lines of software code per day."

"Software facilitates an exchange of high-speed, complex data across vehicle domains that is driving fundamental shifts in architectures," stated Fuerst. He cites Delphi's new automotive grade multi-domain controller solution, which can process massive amounts of content at very high processing speeds. "It's a flexible solution that allows automakers to select functionality and optimize the computing power requirements to fit their specific needs — from advanced active safety technologies to hybridization to automated driving."

Sophisticated Engine Command/Control Strategies Will Improve Emissions

"Software and electronic controls are key in today's powertrains," Fuerst explained. "We expect the sophistication and influence of software controls will continue to grow and improve emissions, without cheating."

He noted several new high performance system solutions developed by Delphi engineers and technical teams. For example, Delphi Model Based Controls (MDC) use physics-based models to provide a much faster response than can be achieved with conventional 'look up' type control methods. MDCs anticipate where the control requirement is going, and remove latency so the optimum setting can be achieved more quickly, significantly reducing transient emissions and providing more responsive driving.

Watch Delphi's John Fuerst describe several flexible and cost-effective powertrain solutions designed to improve fuel economy, reduce emissions and meet regulations, while also enhancing engine performance. (Video — Delphi Automotive)

More Efficient Cylinder Deactivation Strategies Will be Deployed

"Advanced cylinder deactivation schemes leverage software and electronics," Fuerst shared. "They can be highly valuable, provided they are mechanized and controlled properly to ensure excellent driveability and transient response. For example, Dynamic Skip Fire (DSF) can deactivate or fire any fractional number of cylinders, rather than the same, limited number of cylinders each time that older, archaic technology controlled."

Fuerst explained DSF uses torque demand to determine and manage which cylinders fire during each cycle to improve fuel consumption by up to 17% while also minimizing noise, vibration or harshness (NVH). "Modulating average cylinder firing fractions like this unthrottles the engine to reduce pumping losses and improves in-cylinder thermodynamics for substantial C02/fuel consumption benefits.

We intend to develop DSF for application across the full engine spectrum, with implementation beginning in late 2016. For example, even on the diesel engine side, where throttling losses are not an issue, DSF can still offer benefits through improved thermodynamics efficiency and aftertreatment optimization."

[Editor's note: For the latest diagnostic and automotive service insights, read MOTOR Magazine's April 2016 issue.]

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