Other Engineering Companies & Coachbuilder
Bertone celebrates its 90th anniversary with Novanta; a concept car that combines advanced design and pioneering technology. Born out of a vision of the imminent future, Novanta also recalls the philosophy that characterised the life and work of Nuccio Bertone, a philosophy still at the heart of Bertone today: always striving to push back the boundaries of what is possible.
A moving showcase of news ideas, Novanta returns to a classic Bertone theme - that of an executive saloon. Novanta relies on drive-by-wire technology from SKF, for the control of all major driving systems. This new technology has had a major influence during the design and architectural development of Novanta. Eliminating many of the constraints imposed by traditional mechanical systems, by-wire technology has allowed the designers to rethink all of the structural elements of the interior and to make new information technologies accessible. This re-evaluation is an evolutionary step from their design work on the Bertone-SKF Filo.
The exterior architecture, moving the visual centre of gravity towards the rear axle, gives to the overall look a streamlined quality.
A sculptured shoulder line runs the whole length of the vehicle, visually pushing it forward. The sides are asymmetric: on the left is a single door for the driver and on the right two doors for the passengers.
The Guida - the driver's control unit - stows unobtrusively in the door panel when Novanta is stationary. Once in the driver's seat, a light pull on the Guida causes the door to close automatically under its own power-assisted arrangement.
As the door closes, the Guida and its supporting arm pivot out in front of the driver. The front passenger door is equipped with a similar synchronised arm carrying a park-away PC, offering passengers the possibility to work, surf the Internet, connect with home or office, play computer games, or watch a movie during the journey.
A particularly striking feature of Novanta's interior is the luminous strip that runs the entire midline of the passenger compartment. Dropping to floor level immediately in front of both the front and rear seats, this strip displays information from the comprehensive driving and navigation aids, and the audio and the climate control.
Novanta also includes a revolutionary, custom-engineered Bose® surround sound music system. The innovativeinterior allowed Bose engineers to redefine current high performance automotive audio system design. Noticeable is the absence of door speakers. For bass reproduction, Bose engineers developed a powerful yet very compact bass module that sits unobtrusively toward the front of the cabin. They also transformed Novanta's distinctive luminous center strip into a customized acoustic enclosure that provides bass in the rear.
The result is deep, impactful bass - without the bulky bass enclosures and door-mounted woofers used in most conventional systems.
Man and machine interface
Novanta opens a new perspective in the relationship between man and machine. This new perspective is characterised by speed. The speed of the car, the responsiveness of the audio and communications systems to the needs of the driver and passengers, and the immediacy with which an individual's detailed preferences are configured within the architecture of Novanta's systems and interior space.
The heart of this new interface is a Nokia Communicator cellular phone. Functioning as a sophisticated data bank, an on-line communication resource and as a smart access control key, the Nokia Communicator docks into a dedicated station in the centre of the Guida.
Individual drivers' details are stored on their mobile phones. On approaching Novanta, the phone is automatically recognised, the driver's door unlocked and the personalised settings for audio, air conditioning etc. are transferred and all adjustments are made automatically.
Customisation is further enhanced with a sophisticated biometric system. Housed in the dashboard, is a scanning device that recognises an individual's fingerprint. Once stored, the image becomes a unique password, providing a secure ignition "key". Individual settings for the position of the seats and the driving position, the temperature of the interior, the routes used - even favourite music - can be stored with the system, to be recalled with a simple tap of a finger on the scanner.
Novanta utilises SKF Drive-by-wire technology. With this technology, the weighty and cumbersome mechanics and hydraulic arrangements are replaced by smart electro-mechanical systems. The drive-by wire systems represent state-of-art technology in this high-tech approach to vehicle control. The systems developed by SKF include steering, braking in collaboration with Brembo SpA, and interfaces for transmission control and throttle. The driver control unit - the Guida - incorporates all driving functions.
The Guida - All Novanta's controls are located in the Guida and its supporting arm. Steering, throttle control, braking and transmission mode selection are localised on the main unit. The steering yokes are coupled and connected via a closed loop control circuit to the main steering smart electro-mechanical actuating unit (SEMAU). An actuator fitted within the body of the Guida provides "feel" to the driver. Positive feedback on steering position, response to road surface irregularities and the general vehicle dynamics is an essential ingredient in the quality of the overall man-machine interface.
The steering - A steer-by-wire smart electromechanical actuator replaces the conventional rack and pinion arrangement. Sensors continually feed information to the dedicated actuator control units via the fault tolerant data network. These signals form part of the closed loop arrangement controlling the feedback mechanism in the Guida.
The braking - The braking system features custom electro-mechanical callipers jointly developed by Brembo and SKF. Logic control is handled at the level of the individual calliper. An overall vehicle braking control looks after the broader vehicle dynamic needs. Signal propagation and calliper reaction times are noticeably shorter than those of conventional hydraulic systems, providing a significant improvement in safety.
The transmission control - Novanta has an automatic transmission. The selector function is automated with a dedicated logic controller delivering commands issued via the transmission control buttons on the Guida's support arm to the SEMAU.
The power-supply arrangement - Novanta utilises both conventional 14-volt and the new 42-volt supplies. The engine has a 42-volt alternator in addition to the existing 14-volt unit. Both supply systems have battery back up. For the 42-volt supply used to power the steering, transmission selector and brake by- wire systems, two independent power-rails run through the vehicle, each with its own battery.
The conventional 14-volt supply provides power for the starter motor, and vehicle ancillary systems, such as lighting, audio and communications.
This network links all the vehicle drive-by-wire actuator control units (ACUs) into a single vehicle-wide system. It continually monitors the status of the overall system; the individual ACUs and the electrical power supply levels. Automatic node reconnection, fail-safe system routines and power-drop monitoring ensure maximum safety in the event of any electrical or electronic malfunctions. Message handling and response times are in the millisecond range - far faster than current systems.
Pictures: Automotive Intelligence
March 08, 2002