EFI innovates for everyone
In order to offer its customers ever more innovation, EFI Automotive has teamed up with Leti, a laboratory of the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), to develop a new generation of actuators, controlled by a predictive control algorithm.
Each year, the EFI Automotive group devotes around 8% of its turnover to research and development in order to offer its customers new, ever more innovative and efficient products. Today, it is partnering with Leti, a laboratory of the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), to develop a new generation actuator. “Our objective is to develop an actuator whose control law, i. e. the algorithm that drives it, is based on a prediction system,” explains Vincent Liébart (Real Time Electronics Engineer), “concretely, we want to develop an algorithm that does not limit itself to the past and present states of the actuator to decide which control to apply to the actuator but is able to anticipate their consequences and verify in real time that this is the right action to take.” Thanks to such an algorithm, actuators will become more efficient, more reliable and the intelligence of the system will allow them to be developed for new applications.
Before this can be achieved, predictive control must be mastered. This is why EFI turned to Leti, a CEA laboratory: “Leti has experts in predictive control with researchers who work only on this subject”, continues Vincent Liébart, “the idea is to work together to apply research work to the development of an industrial product with all the constraints that this implies.” Minimum space requirement, reduced cost, reliability, volumes… the constraints related to the industry in general and the automotive industry in particular, are not lacking and the site is immense. “To meet these constraints, we had to redo the coding of the algorithm from almost zero,” continues Vincent Liébart, “especially since we wanted to develop an extremely fast, reliable and accurate calculation core, and at the same time, sufficiently standardized so that it could be easily used in various applications.”
The coding of this core therefore represents the first major step in this project, which began in the spring of 2018 and is expected to take at least another six months of work. “Before running an actuator, we need to ensure that this core will do the right calculations,” explains Vincent Liébart, “we will then move on to the second phase of the project, which will consist of verifying it in real conditions by integrating this core into our actuator control software architecture.” For EFI Automotive, the major challenge is to perfectly master the algorithm in order to adapt it to various applications. The so-called “smart” technology, based on the integration of control electronics into mechatronic systems, opens up new opportunities for the group in the actuator market. “With the development of hybrid or electric vehicles, more and more functions in the automotive industry are electrified,” emphasizes Vincent Liébart, “and for this to happen, we need ever more efficient and advanced actuators.” It is through research and development projects, such as this one with the CEA, that EFI Automotive stays one step ahead of its competitors and will be able to better meet the future expectations of its customers if the group has anticipated their needs.