Issue: Apr 2016


Bionic design and additive manufacturing go mainstream



by James Hilton

Manufacturing using a combination of bionic design and additive manufacturing has moved out of the research and design workshop on to the factory floor.

One of the leaders in the field is Wiesbaden-based design engineering company EDAG, which presented a combination of additively manufactured body nodes and extruded sections for future body structures at the 2015 Frankfurt IAA. On show were extremely flexible, load path-optimised spaceframe structures which, according to the company, will enable a wide variety of derivatives, variants and drive concepts to be managed economically in the future. With the first fully functional, ready-for-approval, additively manufactured model of a headlight and a cooling plate for an on-board charger housing that has also been printed, EDAG documented the potential of additive manufacturing methods for the near automotive future. This technology is being made available globally.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked to Jürgen Vogt, CFO of EDAG Engineering, UK, what the company’s plans are for the British market.

Vogt: Our vision is to be the strategic engineering partner for the UK automotive market. We are focused on local vehicle engineering resources, and also use our

global network including know-how in Simultaneous Engineering. The scope of projects reaches from single modules to the development of entire derivatives. This includes bionic lightweight design, different material technologies and electric mobility. The big advantage we have is our network of competencies.

AI: What was the reaction at the IAA 2015 to EDAG’s latest technologies?

Vogt: Briefly: overwhelming. We did not expect such high resonance from our customers and from the media. We have obviously hit the Zeitgeist by approaching many aspects that are becoming increasingly important for the automotive industry. This includes lightweight design by bionics, 3D printing, connectivity and intelligent production processes.

AI: How does EDAG benefit from the strengths of the ATON group of companies?

Vogt: In cooperation, for example, with FFT, a subsidiary of ATON, we can even offer complete turn-key production facilities. So this is a good example of how EDAG benefits from the ATON Group network, enabling us not only to design new products and the necessary solutions for the production, but also to provide implementation capacities. EDAG’s spin-off ensures ingenious networking of driver, vehicle and driving.

A scenario where cars come preloaded with a range of options and services that are unlocked on demand (and payment) by the owner is nearing reality. “Our solution allows OEMs to market software apps and the ‘hardware’ – or car – separately,” says Heiko Herchet, Chief Executive Electrifier at trive.me – a division of EDAG. The separation of hardware and software development in the automotive industry will help make applications and functions in future vehicles more attractive to the consumer, he says. The first function, personalizing vehicle settings and saving them in the trive.account app was demonstrated at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) in September 2015. The app can change the color of the concept car EDAG Light Cocoon in real time.

Automotive Industries asked Michael Pollner, Zeitgeist Evangelist (he looks after the marketing of products at trive.me), how he sees trive.me changing the driving landscape.

Pollner: We see our products as an important enrichment of the new mobility ecosystem. We believe that car driving in the future will focus on more than mobility. Customers will be asking questions such as “how productive am I on the way from A to B? How creative can I be? How can I generate more value while on the route? So we are concerned about giving users control over their time (our trive.park app), make them productive on the go (trive.hotspot) or give them unimaginable flexibility (our trive.account platform for your car account). In addition, we want to be a focal point for all those young founders and startups out there. We are a truly OEM-independent incubator.

AI: What are some of the features of trive.account?

Pollner: The key point of personalization in trive.account is that features and functions, already built into a vehicle, can be unlocked at any time or place. Take, for example, traffic sign recognition: The driver selects this feature, buys it and immediately gets the functionality unlocked in his car. It is also possible to rent a function if you want to try it out or if the feature is only required for a limited time. The necessary hardware (cameras, sensors) are installed in most vehicles and smartphones anyway.

AI: Where will the trive.park service roll out?

Pollner: Currently we are in talks with car park operators. In addition, we will connect trive.park to the guidance systems of a city someday. We are optimistic that we will succeed.

AI: What were the reactions to trive.me’s offerings at the IAA 2015?

Pollner: In our discussions with suppliers and vehicle manufacturers we sensed the desire to reinvent mobility. Many companies struggle to do so because of restrictions in the organization and the required new mindset. In contrast, we can be a platform to develop and drive forward exactly those sometimes crazy looking ideas.

Automotive Industries asked Heiko Herchet, Chief Executive Electrifier and head of trive.me, how trive.me is positioning itself in the mobility industry.

AI: What interoperability does trive.me offer between automotive companies, service providers and end-users?

Herchet: In order for OEMs to stay in business their automotive development process needs to be changed. The challenge is to combine the best of automotive and IT development. trive.me specializes as an independent brand of EDAG Engineering in the development of digital solutions for connected vehicles, drivers and mobile devices. trive.me does not only develop ideas, but can also integrate them into the very complex, highly professionalized and sometimes politically influenced automotive development process.

trive.me is firmly established as part of an engineering service provider with a strong network to the automotive industry, and is able to activate the knowledge of more than 1,500 software and hardware experts for engaging in customer projects and its own products. trive.me complements this expertise with “freethinkers” and IT specialists, not only to initiate new ideas but also to implement and guide these ideas into products. We also want to interact with other startups as a catalyst for accelerating ideas into the automotive business.

AI: How do you see the connected car evolving?

Herchet: A key factor for the acceptance and the breakthrough of the connected vehicle is the implementation of the necessary IT security. Generally, there are three dimensions: Privacy, Safety and Security. In all dimensions security has to be assured throughout the entire vehicle lifecycle in order to protect against manipulation of the vehicle software by hacking or disclosure of personal information. trive.me connects the standard of the automotive industry ISO 26262 (Safety) with the standard ISO 15408 (Security) of the IT industry. This ensures the required reliability in all development projects.

AI: How important is standardization in this field?

Herchet: Only a standardized system will show the advantages of connected vehicles and enable us to create new functions. We think the vehicle will be completely connected in the future. This connection will take different forms. The vehicle will provide a complete connection to all individual components of the interior and will also be connected to the wearables of the consumer (domestic devices, mobile devices). The second form is the networking of the vehicle itself with the environment. The vehicle as a “thing” in the “Internet of Things” will interact with other vehicles and the infrastructure.

The third form refers to the energy supply. With significant charge and discharge of the vehicle battery, the vehicle becomes an integral part of our energy system and thus a catalyst for the usage of renewable energies in the energy mix. These forms of connection provide new challenges for software development in terms of vehicle safety, data security, computing power, driver comfort and the “Freeware” mentality regarding Apps

AI: What are some of the new services/technologies you hope to roll out over the next year?

Herchet: With trive.park, we will commercialize an additional product line. By retrofitting smartphones, as well as in-vehicle systems, we will provide a powerful indoor navigation system, the selection and booking of free parking spaces, as well as seamless navigation solutions. More innovations are on the way.



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