Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Computer Vision are trending technologies for off-highway vehicle and mobile machine manufacturers. To help to advance its customers in this area, TTControl has set up the Application Development Center (ADC) one year ago. The ADC helps vehicle manufacturers to future-proof their vehicles and development processes. In this interview, ADC director Janosch Fauster explains the current trends, what drives them and how OEMs can master the transition to the software-defined vehicle.
The Application Development Center works on the technological pulse of the industry. Which recently trending topics could you identify?
Janosch Fauster: As part of our close collaboration with mobile machinery manufacturers we work on several exciting projects throughout the year. We are involved in several IoT/connectivity assignments, advanced human-machine interface adaptions and ISO 26262 certified projects. This includes, for example, a fully digitalized cockpit for several customers including all the advantages this brings to the operator and machine owner. There is an increasing demand for online machine monitoring, especially for predictive maintenance applications. We are currently working on projects with several customers in this area. A major industry topic is also ISO 26262 certification for road usage. We are expanding our offer in that area and our software development processes have been enhanced to cover not only ISO 13849, but also ISO 26262 compliance. Combined with our ISO 26262 certified ECUs we can now offer turnkey solutions to our customers with on-road certification needs.
How relevant is applicable science for the off-highway sector? Do you work with scientific laboratories?
Janosch Fauster: Our dedicated team of computer vision engineers works closely, for example, with the Covision Lab on applicable computer vision and AI technologies and also benefit from their scientific network. Currently, we are jointly researching multi-sensor usage for mobile machinery, for example using thermal, lidar and RGB-camera sensors. The right set of sensors will help to advance industry and agriculture applications, for example, in managing farm equipment as well as automatizing tasks like harvesting and piling.
How do you see the relevance of software in the area of mobile machines?
Janosch Fauster: In the future, software will increasingly become the driver of additional customer value and operator safety. In the short term, assistance systems and, in the long term, fully autonomous machines, will also make it easier for less experienced machine conductors to operate even complex vehicles.
This will only be possible with software-defined vehicles – whose features and functions are primarily enabled through software. We see the transformation from a hardware-based product to a software-centric electronic device on wheels ongoing in the automobile industry. Mobile machinery and off-highway vehicle manufacturers are currently building up the required software development capacities and establishing a network of strong partners for efficiently mastering this challenge.
Which technologies will play a major role in the future?
Janosch Fauster: Speaking of the software-defined vehicle, key technologies are high-performance computing-platforms and algorithms. Computer vision and deep learning are the relevant tools to support the development of highly automated and autonomous operation applications. We have a dedicated „Emerging Technologies“ team that identifies sustainable trends and makes them accessible to our customers and partners.
What was the highlight project the Application Development Center worked on last year?
Janosch Fauster: On the RT – the first hybrid-electric firefighting truck by Rosenbauer, we supported to ensure functional safety and process the ISO 26262 certification of the entire vehicle. A mixed-critical architecture allows great flexibility for integrating applications of different safety assurance levels to the RT. The high-performance TTC 580 controller acts as the vehicle control unit. As it is based on MATLAB Simulink, it allows realistic simulations, and did so even when the vehicle was not available during the development phase. We recently became part of the MathWorks Connections Program to systematically offer our customers these advantages for their development projects.