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R&D Focus

Innovative Controller for Electric and Self-Driving Vehicles By Ming Une Jen and Ming-Hung Lu

With decades-long experience in intelligent vehicle technology, ITRI has built a new-generation integrated Powertrain and Chassis Control Unit (PCCU) that acts as a domain controller for electric, hybrid or self-driving vehicles. This two-in-one control unit, the only of its kind made in Taiwan, can be used as a vehicle control unit (VCU), an X-by-wire controller, or both through different embedded firmware and software.

Besides the three primary components—electric motor, motor controller and battery—for an electric vehicle (EV), introducing the PCCU into pre-production greatly boosts the competitiveness of car manufacturers. The PCCU serves as a vehicle control unit that provides torque coordination, operation strategies, onboard diagnosis, charging control, and monitoring for electric vehicles. It also enables precise by-wire control for steering, brake, throttle, gear shift and turn signals needed to develop self-driving vehicles.

The integrated Powertrain and Chassis Control Unit (PCCU) developed by ITRI.

The integrated Powertrain and Chassis Control Unit (PCCU) developed by ITRI.

Feature-wise, the PCCU’s hardware and software designs follow functional safety development process guided by ISO 26262, which aims to reduce possible hazards caused by the malfunctioning behavior of electrical and electronic systems. As the core of hardware, the main microcontroller (MCU) and the power management chip of the PCCU own the highest Automotive Safety Integrity Level, ASIL D. An additional ASIL B MCU is added as a safety redundancy. Similarly, model-based software architecture of basic system functions and functional interfaces conforms to the standardization defined by Automotive Open System Architecture (AUTOSAR). Partner developers can thus integrate, exchange, re-use, and transfer functions within a vehicle network, which substantially improves their efficiency of development over the product lifecycle of a vehicle.

Additionally, ITRI’s PCCU was developed and manufactured to meet automotive grade product quality requirements. To be a qualified product, environmental reliability testing and electromagnetic compatibility testing were performed and certified by a third-party organization. According to the validations, the PCCU complies with ISO 16750/CISPR 25, and the ingress protection rating of PCCU meets IP 6K7 and IP 6K9K.

The core chips of PCCU achieve the highest Automotive Safety Integrity Level, ASIL D.

The core chips of PCCU achieve the highest Automotive Safety Integrity Level, ASIL D.

As one of the technology spotlights of the Mobility Taiwan Automotive Research Consortium (mTARC), the PCCU made its debut at the tradeshow Autotronics Taipei 2022, attracting the interest of many visitors and vendors as the first vehicle controller of its kind produced in Taiwan. The orders for the PCCU from bus and car manufacturers exceeded 1,100 sets by the end of April, with 500 sets already manufactured by Inventec Corp.

Achieving technology readiness level (TRL) 8, the PCCU has become the VCU for almost all major electric bus manufacturers in Taiwan, including ZTE, Hon Hai, RAC and Master, and has been used in the self-driving vehicles of HCT Logistics, Green Transit Co. and Leon Energy Co. Being a core technology for EVs and self-driving vehicles, the PCCU can help integrate the EV supply chain and lay a solid foundation for the vehicle controller industry.

About the Authors

Dr. Ming Une Jen

Dr. Ming Une Jen is a senior researcher working for the Mechanical and Mechatronics Systems Research Laboratories at ITRI. She was also a member of Hybrid-EV committee of SAE Standards Works in 2012-2016. Dr. Jen received her Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering from University of Maryland, US. She specializes in NVH engineering, electric vehicles, and chassis engineering, and has published over 65 technical papers.

Ming-Hung Lu

Ming-Hung Lu is a senior researcher of the Mechanical and Mechatronics Systems Research Laboratories at ITRI. He earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering from National Chiao-Tung University. His research focuses on X-by-wire technology and vehicle noise and vibration, with over 60 technical papers published.