The Art of Interface
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Case 10

Laplace Z — aerospace network for Prato Orage

Category. Automotive industry. Equipping supercar with full solution for body control and virtual interface.

Description. High-grade automotive electronics development and manufacturing — Laplace Z on-board network: hardware, software and real-time graphics.

Reference. Prato Orage supercar: Prato Automobiles.

Prato Orage lights

Preface

Prato Orage (French — tempest, violent storm) is the first French supercar in production. By its nature this vehicle is brutal, fierce and outrageously powerful. In short — it is a mechanical beast. To control it one needs something special — for instance, aerospace on-board network.

1. Meet — Prato Orage and its Creators

Prato Orage was created by prominent engineer Rodolphe Tousset from France and prodigious designer Bruno Prata from Italy.

Rodolphe Tousset and Burno Prata next to Prato Orage Fig. 1. From right to left: Rodolphe Tousset, Bruno Prata, Prato Orage. Photo — courtesy of Bruno Prata.

Monseiur Rodolphe Tousset endowed Orage with its outstanding characteristics:

 

Prato Orage

  • hydroformed aluminum chassis
  • 6-speed manual transmission with carbon shaft
  • naturally aspirated V8 8.1 L engine outputting 900 hp and 1044 N·m torque
  • 0–100 km/h acceleration in 2.8 s
  • carbon-ceramic brakes with ∅400 mm discs and 6-piston calipers at front
  • carbon-ceramic brakes with ∅380 mm discs and 4-piston calipers at rear
  • OLED optics
  • body control and virtual interface — Laplace Z on-board network
  • wheels of forged aluminum alloy
  • carbon-fiber body shell

Signore Bruno Prata performed genius carbon-fiber bodywork and designed stylish interior of natural leather, polished aluminum and genuine carbon-fiber.

Prato Orage exterior Fig. 2. Prato Orage exterior. Prato Orage interior Fig. 3. Prato Orage interior.

Prato Orage was revealed to public in June 2017 at Le Mans parade in France.

2. Superelectronics for the supercar — Laplace Z network

To control Orage vehicle we have built an entire Laplace Z on-board network — a set of devices knit together into a web which spreads across the entire vehicle for body control and interaction with driver. In short, Laplace Z reads an input from the driver, performs requests and provides interactive feedback on vehicle status.

 

Laplace Z on-board network

  • distributed topology
  • 32-bit at 64 MHz body control logic
  • virtual interfaces at 60 fps with instant start-up
  • stereo ambient light sensing for display brightness adjustment
  • dedicated direct current converters for OLED driving
  • solid-state switches with current sensing for lights, motors and solenoids
  • extensive diagnostics on every output
  • digital accelerometer, compass and gyroscope
  • time keeping function with disconnected battery
  • magnetoresistive memory for storing temporary data in off state
  • minimum power consumption in stand-by mode
  • avionic aluminum housings
  • heavy duty aerospace connectors
  • high-performance gold-plated contacts

Laplace Z is the network of distributed topology where every device is performing local functions on its own — an idea borrowed from aviation.

Devices themselves were built with avionic features as well. Thus, all Laplace Z devices are encased into avionic aluminum housings. Their heavy duty aerospace connectors provide ultimate reliability of the distributed solution — in total Laplace Z network utilizes more than 30 of these. All interplanetary missions, space stations and artificial satellites rely on connectors of this grade.

Prato Orage - Laplace Z on-board network Fig. 4. Prato Orage — Laplace Z on-board network.

In the image above modules of Laplace Z network:

  • BCM — body control module
  • PDM — power distribution module
  • DCM — door control module
  • CCM — climate control module
  • VIC — virtual instrument cluster
  • VCC — virtual central console
  • VID — virtual infotainment display

3. BCM — hart of Laplace Z

BCM is the body control module — a device responsible for reading input from the driver, collecting vehicle status information and decision making. It is the central processor of Laplace Z network which commands the rest of it — execution modules follow its commands and interface devices display its readings.

Laplace Z BCM - body control module Fig. 5. Laplace Z BCM — body control module.

4. Laplace Z execution modules — smart power distribution

PDMs, DCMs and CCM are Laplace Z execution modules — they control vehicle lights, motors and solenoids.

Laplace Z PDM - power distribution module Fig. 6. Laplace Z PDM — power distribution module.

A major challenge for Laplace Z PDM — power distribution module — is Orage OLED control. First, OLEDs are driven directly. Second, every OLED type requires its own current — a triangle is different from rectangle and red is not the same as orange. Third, each rear assembly has 27 OLEDs. On top of that every one of four turn assemblies has animated sequence of 7 OLEDS.

To drive Orage OLEDs Laplace Z PDMs use dedicated converters to feed the OLEDs with direct current, which gives OLEDs their even, constant and non-flickering glow. Because of excessive number of OLEDs to control on the Prato Orage, it has 4 Laplace Z PDMs — each driving a dedicated corner of the vehicle.

Prato Orage OLEDs Fig. 7. Driving Orage OLEDs is a challenge.

Laplace Z DCM — door control module — controls door window and mirror. Orage features frameless doors — every time the door is opened, the window is slightly lowered releasing it from the top rubber groove and then moved back on closing the door.

Laplace Z CCM — climate control module — is responsible for split climate inside cockpit: both driver and passenger can select their own settings. The module gathers input from numerous temperature sensors inside and outside of the vehicle cockpit and adjusts airflow with several flaps sitting inside air-ducts.

Laplace Z CCM - climate control module Fig. 8. Laplace Z CCM — climate control module.

All Laplace Z execution modules feature smart electronic switches, which replace relays. These switches precisely dose the power fed to the load and provide extensive diagnostics.

5. Laplace Z interface — virtual cockpit

Interface provides feedback on vehicle status. The Orage cockpit is equipped with three Laplace Z displays:

  • VIC — virtual instrument cluster
  • VCC — virtual central console
  • VID — virtual infotainment display
Prato Orage virtual cockpit Fig. 9. Prato Orage virtual cockpit.

Laplace Z interface devices are optimized for ultimate performance — they start in a fraction of a second and render graphics at 60 fps to provide smothest possible animation and agile visual experience.

Instrument cluster features two distinct modes: default sport mode and agressive race one.

Laplace Z virtual instrument cluster sport mode Fig. 10. Virtual instrument cluster in sport mode. Graphical design — Bruno Prata. Laplace Z virtual instrument cluster race mode Fig. 11. Virtual instrument cluster in race mode. Graphical design — Bruno Prata.

In Prato Orage passenger enjoys his own digital dashboard.

Laplace Z virtual infotainment display sport mode Fig. 12. Passenger digital dashboard. Graphical design — Bruno Prata.

 

Write to the author of the case — Sergey Chernenko.