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ARTC Sees Mounting Test Challenge Amid Growing Smart in Vehicles

2019-05-14 11:41:05

Richard Lin, manager of Component Quality Development under the government-backed Automotive Research & Testing Center (ARTC), sees challenge to his laboratories mounting along with automobiles growing smarter than before thanks to increasing digitally-controlled technologies on them.

“With automotive industries throughout the world keeping rolling out smarter vehicles that are increasingly reliant on internet and mobility technologies, our certifying tasks have become more complicate than before because we have to make sure devices from certificate applicants are electromagnetically compatible with electrical equipment around, medical gadgets in particular, while seamlessly communicating with their counterpart devices on other vehicles,” Lin stresses. 

Communications technologies such as internet and 5G, Lin notes, are increasingly going into vehicles to carry out automakers’ proprietary plan, like Volvo Cars’, to shift cars to a “mobility-as-service” platform from a pure passenger-carrying vehicle. Volvo, for instance, has launched M, a new brand that will expand the company’s global mobility operations by providing dependable, on-demand access to cars and services through an intuitive app.  “In such a case, a car’s utilization value is shifting to software features from hardware features and mobility services are particularly stressed,” he adds. 

ARTC, to catch up with the appearing trend, will underscore “mobility service” concept in April this year at the high-profile Taipei International Auto Parts & Accessories Show (Taipei AMPA), which collocates with Taipei Automobile Electronics Show (AutoTronics Taipei), and Taiwan International Intelligent Transportation Show (Taiwan ITS), by demonstrating some simulated examples.

Outfit with 12 laboratories and a 119-hectare vehicle field-test ground, ARTC is one of the world’s few automotive testing and certification laboratory capable of providing full-range inspections, including vehicle performance testing, emission & fuel economy testing, automotive light testing, electromagnetic compatibility testing, crash testing, automotive noise testing, environmental testing, fatigue and durability, vehicle specification testing, safety testing, computer-aided engineering analysis, component testing, calibration services, and electric vehicle charging.

The center deals with over 10,000 testing applications annually, on average, with electronics cases already outnumbering traditional-parts cases, according to Lin. “For instance, LED [light emitting diode] lamps have outnumbered HID [high intensity discharge] lamps in the lighting-test category,” Lin says. Totally, the applications have kept increasing in volume year on year to his center, which depends on testing services for major part of its revenue.

Around 80% of the cases are contracted by local small and medium-size makers whereas the remaining 20% by heavyweight makers, well illustrating the reality that Taiwan’s automotive industry is mostly constituted by small and medium-size makers of parts. “Since the very beginning of the center’s establishment in 1990, the center has been mostly assisting small and medium-size makers in accordance with the government’s automotive-industry policy. The makers’ products are too much diversified whereas their operation scale is not massive enough to afford to an in-house laboratory,” Lin notes. 

Backed up by advanced testing instruments and well trained specialists, the center has moved to develop a multitude of advanced and innovative systems and modules, including image-type adaptive front-lighting system(IAFS), blind-spot detection and door opening warning system (BDS), lane departure warning system(LDW), lane keeping system(LKS), driver surveillance system(DSS), forward collision warning system(FCW), fingerprint recognition keyless system(FRKS), parking assistance system(PAS), automatic parking guidance system(APGS), LED headlamp, electric parking brake system(EPB) and electric power steering system(EPS). All these systems and modules are built around the center’s core technologies--mechatronics control, lighting, image recognition and vehicle-to-vehicle communications.

Moreover, the center owns at least 100 patented technologies, which are available for licensing. The technologies include electric vehicle operating information collection system, self-adaptive image- based obstacle detection method, automatic airview correction method, intelligent thermostatic control method and device for an air conditioner blowing cold and hot air, system and method for preventing vehicle from rolling over in curved lane, device and method for detecting state of health of batteries, automatic correction device of vehicle display system and method thereof, intuitive eco-driving assistance method and system, self-adaptive image edge correction device and method thereof, and vehicle brake transmission.

Solid testing and R&D capabilities have inspired international certification organizations to team up with ARTC to issue certificates like China Compulsory Certification (CCC, China); Automotive Manufacturers Equipment Compliance Agency (AMECA, America); TÜV Rheinland, TÜV Nord, and TÜV SÜD Germany; Institute of Automotive Quality (IQA, Brazil); IDIADA Spain; and DOTARS Australia. 

Even carmakers Ford, GM, FCA, Jaguar and Land Rover have licensed ARTC to examine their contracted parts.

Last May, Harley-Davidson, Inc. (H-D) of the U.S. announced licensing ARTC to offer testing on 58 items to its contract suppliers, making the center one of the few laboratories across the world capable of conducting that many of item tests for H-D outside the U.S. territory. “We’ve seen quite a good volume of applications coming for these tests since last May. I mean the volume is much more than we originally expected, especially there have been applications from non-Taiwanese suppliers,” Lin notes, adding that the non-Taiwanese suppliers include those from mainland China, Europe, America, and Southeast Asia. 

He analyzes that behind the H-D’s licensing are that Taiwanese supply chains are getting closer to H-D and that ARTC has been licensed by many world leading certification organizations and automakers. “Taiwan is one of H-D’s major supply chains worldwide. So, ARTC had been repeatedly contacting H-D over the licensing deal and then they agreed,” Lin says.

The 58 items fall into environment-testing, mechanics-testing,
electrical-testing and, again, EMC-testing categories.

“EMC has become a very critical issue to vehicle industry
especially when electric vehicle and even autonomous
vehicle are on the rise,” stresses Lin. “They,” he adds,
“use electricity as power and autonomous vehicles even
heavily depend on internet and wireless telecommunication
technology to receive real-time mapping data, which
together make them interfering sources. So, vehicle
makers must make sure their electric or electronic
devices are electromagnetically compatible with device
around in the environment constituted by 5G or Internet of Vehicle network. Or whether they are connected through
Internet or not, EMC must be stringently addressed.”

In 2014, ARTC set up integrated verification capability for electric vehicles covering R&D and design of the vehicles and related
components, volume production of the vehicles, tests requested by rules, and export verification. Last year, the center teamed
up with 18 prominent manufacturers to develop electric self-driving mini bus to the high-end SAE Level 4 definition set by the
SAE International of the United States.

“Electrifying vehicles is a clear-cut stage in automotive industry. Electric vehicle development will stay sizzling into this year in
Taiwan because electric buses will completely replace fossil fuel-powered buses in 2030