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10 MICROCONTROLLERS MCUs simplify HEV and EV motor control designs Vitor Ribeiro and Maik Strietzel explain how efficient software algorithms and the latest microcontrollers can improve motor control on electric vehicles ar manufacturers and their suppliers are working hard to develop economical new vehicle models with the aim of reducing both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. in the case of the powertrain. 1 shows field- automotive electronics | august/september 2011 www. for example. necessary torque and efficiency. Control Brushless motors require more effort for commutation.automotive-electronics. A central element of both approaches is an electric motor which. control unit (microcontroller) and control software. However. Efforts are being made to use asynchronous motors. Fig. Failure to adapt these correctly may lead to undesired effects such as irregular running and excessive noise. power electronics. Disadvantages include the slightly lower efficiency (around 90%).co. The CO2saving capacity of a hybrid electric vehicle. such as C Fig. The challenge is to find the perfect balance of motor. but brushless versions of both motor types mean that brush loss is not an issue.uk . Hybrid vehicles of every kind currently serve as a bridge technology until high-capacity electrical energy storage systems are available at reasonable prices. enabling the production of long-range allelectric vehicles. as expensive materials from rare earth elements are usually required for the permanent magnets. greater weight and lower torque in the start-up phase. is used either in combination with a conventional internal combustion engine (in hybrid cars) or as an independent source of power (in allelectric vehicles). 1: Motor control according to the Clarke/Park principle electric power steering. weight. Not only do they not require maintenance. Motor control combines various control algorithms depending on the application. reliability. PMSMs have a better dimensionsto-torque ratio and higher efficiency and are currently the first choice for use in the powertrains of electric and hybrid electric vehicles. These are robust and reasonably priced (they do not require magnets made from rare elements) and the dynamic properties can be easily controlled using suitable software algorithms. while safe and efficient control is a fundamental prerequisite for use in powertrains. Further measures. Deciding factors in the selection of the motor include dimensions. robustness. Hybrid electric vehicles and electric vehicles (HEV and EV) have the great potential for achieving the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions demanded by legislators. is approximately 30%. Both synchronous and asynchronous motors can be used. provide an additional 5%. the former as a permanent magnet synchronous motor (PMSM) featuring high torque coupled with compact dimensions and high efficiency (roughly 94%). The algorithms used must be adapted to the respective motor and application so that the electronic controller commutates the motor optimally at all times. the benefits that this offers are offset by a higher price tag. The electrification of motor vehicles is advancing rapidly and the efficient control of electric motors is becoming ever more important. which together have a negative impact on the degree of efficiency that can be achieved.

but their decreased robustness and vulnerability to dirt and temperature conditions makes their use in motor vehicles rather difficult. It is also able to detect the absolute position of the rotor at any time – even when it is at a standstill. In direct comparison with the other sensors. and must instead always request it from the external RDC. the phase currents may not correspond to the expected values. Evaluation of the analogue sinusoidal and cosinusoidal signals returned by the resolver requires a resolver-todigital converter (RDC). The higher the number of magnetic poles and Hall elements. The analogue signal In the simplest case. All this takes place internally and with minimal latency. sinusoidal and cosinusoidal values as well as the angular rate are available to the MCU at all times and can be read out from dedicated registers every 100ns. which is usually implemented as a discrete circuit. 4). this sensor is susceptible to magnetic interference. torque and flux. In these cases. The insensitivity to magnetic interference is beneficial here. To measure an angle. or a target rotational speed. The block diagram for an inverter is shown in Fig. the motor control MCU (master) is supported by a second. the current rotor position and a target position specified by the application. This method can be subject to deviation of several angular degrees and is not currently used for motor vehicle applications. whereby a voltage is induced by changing the magnetic field around a current-carrying conductor. Motor controllers are very often developed by a model-based method. actual angle determination only involves detecting the direction of rotation and counting the pulses emitted. Resolver diagnosis This generates the resolver signal An MCU can identify a failure or and determines the rotor position malfunction of the motor relatively and rate as quickly and precisely as possible based on the sinusoidal and cosinusoidal information returned. Lin and Flexray (Fig. which is neither at risk from magnetic interference and dirt. The angular rate can be calculated by simply measuring the intervals between two pulses. Higher resolutions can be achieved by increasing the number of pole pairs. and the ring-shaped stator. this means an increase in computing power and less work for porting from models to the real world. is the resolver. To transfer the algorithms developed in this way to a conventional microcontroller. This is not possible with either Hall sensors or incremental encoders. For the microcontroller (MCU). and ample communications interfaces such as Can. These transformed variables. The current rotor position can be either directly determined with a sensor or estimated using a complex calculation system. In FOC. Hall sensor Fig. With the help of a magnetic ring attached to the rotor and a sensor unit affixed to the stator.automotive-electronics. Sensor-based rotor position detection can be conducted with various sensor systems. which is used to determine the angular position and rate from the analogue data. the MCU can set the system to a defined state – without compromising vehicle safety. the motor in conjunction with a rotor position sensor (resolver) and the RDC (Fig. They can generate all the motor control signals automotive electronics | august/september 2011 www. or the expected speed may not have been reached. but it is also more robust and reliable in return. and there are now very powerful software tools that generally have one thing in common – they work with floating-point numbers. These suffer from a serious disadvantage in that the MCU does not have constant access to the rotor data. This information must be forwarded to the microcontroller so that it can be taken into account in the motor control algorithms as described. the Hall Effect sensor is a cheap and easy means of detecting angles. 5a. The stator consists of at least one excitation coil and two sensor coils. set at 90˚ to each other. an integrated floating-point unit (FPU) is standard in some MCUs and is of great benefit. For reasons of functional safety. A particular highlight is the integrated RDC with the functionality described above. Motor control MCUs Applications for motor control MCUs with integrated RDC include the aforementioned inverter for the electric drive motor. such as the incremental encoder mentioned above. featuring both mechanical and optical scanning to determine the current angular position. an incremental encoder must be based on a zero or reference position.co. The following section gives a brief overview of the most common sensor types. the higher the resolution and accuracy. Rotor position. In terms of results. a resolver may be more expensive. a power output stage. As a key component. this can also take place via other serial or parallel ports. the system is again transformed into a rotor-based vector system and the voltages to be set are transmitted to the motor via the power electronics by means of pulse-width modulation. This is available in a wide range of designs. The excitation coil is fed with an analogue sinusoidal signal. By contrast.uk www. The latter method – also known as sensorless angle detection – is based on the logging and evaluation of two actively controlled phases. Not only is this relatively slow. Integration of the RDC results in a significantly simplified system architecture (Fig. Optical systems. Fig. However. often used in the automotive industry. offer advantages in terms of performance and precision. PID regulators are ideal for bringing complex systems into a stable state. Both microcontrollers maintain Motor control MCUs Some of the latest MCUs take an entirely different approach. By means of inverse Park/Clarke transformation. The block diagram in Fig. Incremental encoder Figs 3a (top) and 3b: Motor control with external and integrated RDC One frequently used sensor is the incremental encoder. the MCU immediately receives an internal interrupt signal so it can react quickly and in a targeted manner to the situation. Depending on the system’s design and the manufacturer of the RDC. Due to their fast. any mechanical friction losses and susceptibility to dirt in the case of optical systems are disadvantageous. the Clarke/Park transformation is used to transform the phase currents measured (at least two must be continuously recorded) from a stator-based three-dimensional system to a rotor-based two-dimensional system. is transmitted to the two sensor coils. smaller microcontroller (slave). 3a).co. precise and overshoot-free control characteristics. Inverters in vehicles Resolver One very robust sensor. the motor controller consists of a microcontroller. 2 shows a resolver. the floating-point numbers must be converted to integers. in the case of which the failure must be signalled by means of a slow interface to the MCU. it can generally be said that Hall sensors are based on the Hall Effect.automotive-electronics.uk  august/september 2011 | automotive electronics . via the magnetic coupling (induction). However. Fig. but it is also a potential source of errors that can have a negative impact on the functional safety of the entire system. External RDCs are usually linked to the MCU via a serial peripheral interface (SPI). 4 gives an overview of on-chip resources that can be available. which is permanently attached to the motor shaft (motor rotor). 4: Microcontroller block diagram MICROCONTROLLERS 13 easily. cable breakages and interruptions or even short-circuits within the resolver windings can be identified quickly and reliably. 2: Schematic and mechanical structure of a resolver Source: Tyco Electronics orientated control (FOC) combined with PID regulation systems for controlling rotor speed. 3b). But how is the resolver monitored and how are malfunctions diagnosed? All signals from and to the resolver can be monitored via integrated diagnostics and fault profiles such as short-circuits to ground. are taken as starting points for the control algorithms. the rotor position sensor has significant influence on the performance and efficiency of the motor system. For example.12 MICROCONTROLLERS the detection of the rotor position is essential for precise motor control. nor subject to friction losses during angle detection. Since this is not always a completely smooth process. The resolver consists of the rotor. If such faults occur. which is permanently attached to the motor housing. in stark contrast to systems with external RDCs.

It is also conceivable for EPS to be part of a driver assistance system that could park a vehicle automatically without driver input. development is marching ever onward. the number of full hybrids (HEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) is expected to increase in the years to come. cost-effective and high-capacity energy storage systems. For example. such as speed of travel. 5b). too. and while they are initially mostly simple startstop systems. steering movement requires more support when the vehicle is almost at a standstill. a purely electric power steering (EPS) system only needs energy when it is being used. EPS control Economical use of energy is essential in an HEV or EV.automotive-electronics. such as hydraulic power steering. The master MCU generates the commutation signals for the motor. Hydraulic systems run continuously to build up the required pressure by means of a servo pump. for example the Can bus. These data are provided via the internal network. measures and monitors the phase currents. Efficient software algorithms. master and slave MCUs are used.co. maximum use must be made of the energy available in the form of fuel and/or electrical power in hybrid vehicles. It is entirely possible for the electronic stability control (ESC) to regulate vehicle stability actively by means of steering intervention. All this information is used by the motor control algorithm for targeted control of the rotor speed and torque. In principle. and systems that require a constant supply of energy. All-electric vehicles that function entirely without an internal combustion engine need safe. A higher level of integration leads to leaner and cheaper motor control systems that can be used in applications above and beyond those presented here.14 MICROCONTROLLERS a constant dialogue and. would over the long term put excessive strain on the energy storage systems. Here. Once again. In order that the correct steering assistance can be given at all times. such as during parking manoeuvres.uk . generates the resolver signals and determines the rotor position and angular rate via the sine-cosine feedback. the design is similar to that of the inverter for the powertrain. By contrast. Until then. is required. albeit not quite as quickly as many would prefer. while the power element is different mainly in terms of the power to be regulated. other information. while the resolver functions as described (Fig. The aim is to minimise the effort expended by the driver and provide dynamic support for steering movement. the master MCU must still evaluate a steering input device and a torque sensor. powerful microcontrollers and highly efficient electric motors will make this possible. the slave MCU can initiate a system reset or cut off the power supply to the motor. A PMSM is used for this application as well. EPS is intended to increase both driver comfort and safety. This information is used to calculate the extra steering torque required and transmit it to the electric motor on the steering column. l Vitor Ribeiro is senior product marketing engineer and Maik Strietzel is application engineer for Fujitsu Semiconductor Europe’s automotive business unit Summary and outlook More and more hybrid vehicles are coming onto the market. However. than at high speed on the motorway. The inverter communicates with the battery management system (BMS) via the internal network (Can or Flexray) Figs 5a (top) and 5b: Diagram of an HEV to ensure that the energy required can and EV inverter and also be provided. technological automotive electronics | august/september 2011 www. as soon as abnormal behaviour is detected.