AT&S develops new solutions for autonomous driving
Step by step, automated driving is increasingly becoming a feature of our mobility. With each step, increasing data volumes need to be processed fast to allow quick reactions to any given situation. AT&S is developing a robust and resilient interconnect concept for a high-performance computer chip.
In order to meet these requirements, a very challenging application has been defined for the development: an autonomously operating mining vehicle. This ensures that a reliable concept, which can be used for all applications in autonomous driving, is developed. The search for the pioneers in autonomous driving leads to an industry which may not immediately come to mind: mining. In this segment, autonomously driving machinery, such as huge trucks has long been used in day-to-day operations to achieve a significant increase in productivity, safety and efficiency. All of this happens in very harsh surroundings and major temperature fluctuations, and dust and humidity are part of the everyday working routine of such machines and place high demands on all components involved. Electronics in particular are subject to significant stress in such systems, which can have a critical impact on their functionality. Finding solutions to these challenges is the goal of the so-called CHARM (Challenging Environments Tolerant Smart Systems for IoT and AI) research project, in which AT&S is also involved, as Hannes Stahr, Group Technology Manager at AT&S, explains: “Together with companies and research institutions from ten different countries, we are working on the development of powerful computer modules which could be used in fully autonomous mining vehicles in the future. AT&S’s contribution is the development of a robust and resilient interconnect concept for a high-performance computer chip.” During the concept development phase, a measurement chip is used to check and validate system stability and reliability. In a later phase, this chip is replaced by a high-performance processor, which is embedded in a substrate – the translator between the microworld of the printed circuit board and the nanostructures of the microchip – thus enabling miniaturisation and high data processing speeds at the same time. The development work of this project focuses on the application area of mining. Nevertheless, the results can also be used in other segments. “Of course we can also apply the learnings from this project to areas of autonomous driving for cars and trucks,” says Stahr. First collaborations with the automotive supply industry are already in place, which – just like mining – requires maximum reliability and safety in all environmental conditions for these system-relevant components. The CHARM project, which is scheduled for three years, is implemented as part of the ECSEL (Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership) initiative. The public-private partnership initiated by the EU pursues the goal to drive innovation for electronic components and systems and to improve Europe’s competitiveness in the era of the digital economy.