Future-oriented development for the automotive industry with the Modular Research Platform
Automotive-sector | Engineering | innovation | mobility of the future | Flexibility in vehicle development is becoming increasingly important. Major trends such as autonomous driving and e-mobility pose major challenges for manufacturers and suppliers. Traditional development methods are often too time-consuming for this. MRP from thyssenkrupp provides a remedy.
MRP is the abbreviation for Modular Research Platform and the name of the modular research platform developed by thyssenkrupp. “MRP is our agile development tool for all our research and development activities,” says Kristof Polmans. “Our goal is to develop the chassis technology of the future.”
The goal and the use of the platform are combined: On the one hand, there is the possibility of testing new hardware solutions such as new EPS steering systems, steering-by-wire systems, new steering column solutions, rear-wheel steering systems or individual wheel steering systems much earlier, more flexibly and more cost-effectively at vehicle level. In addition, new control concepts can be tested and developed in combination with all possible settings of the chassis kinematics and chassis architecture.
Polmans is head of the technology and innovation department in the steering business of thyssenkrupp in liechtenstein. Together with project manager Carlo Miano and colleagues from eleven nations, he works at MRP and brings innovations forward. “I enjoy the opportunity to develop and test new technologies quickly and agilely on the vehicle,” says Polmans.
MRP – engineering artistry for vehicle manufacturing and development
What makes the modular vehicle so special? “Our vehicle, similar to Lego, is built from many components. Thanks to this design principle, we can replace parts of the chassis, such as the steering, brakes or dampers, within minutes and test their interaction,” explains project manager Carlo Miano. This is precisely why the research platform was designed – to develop chassis components faster. With MRP, the automotive experts at thyssenkrupp can test components under real conditions at a very early stage of development – no more waiting for prototypes.
“The biggest advantage in development for us is that the MRP gives us full flexibility in the configuration of the chassis actuators and kinematics,” says Kristof Polmans.
Our customers also benefit from this. “Thanks to MRP, our customers can implement new components in a very short time, even if the future application vehicle is not available or has not yet been built,” says Miano.
Steering systems are a direct focus of research in Liechtenstein. With the new agile research platform, thyssenkrupp also aims to demonstrate its expertise as a chassis developer in the long term. After all, thyssenkrupp is already one of the world’s biggest suppliers of steering columns and complete steering systems.
Live analysis from the passenger seat
Carlo Miano likes to drive the MRP vehicle off-road himself. Meanwhile, dozens of sensors measure a number of parameters without interruption, including speed, acceleration in different spatial directions, yaw rate, wheel speed and steering wheel angle. They transmit this information to the board computer, which is mounted on the center console. Leonardo Lapis, who is in charge of control development in the project, can follow all the information on speed, steering wheel angle and the like live from the passenger seat while driving.
New customer requirements? No problem!
MRP enables the experts at thyssenkrupp Automotive Technology to develop new applications together with the customer even better and faster than before. They are constantly working to improve driving dynamics, meet safety requirements in critical situations and increase occupant comfort. “We can ensure all this by gathering objective and subjective information,” says Polmans with satisfaction.
“A key role is played here by the development and control of chassis components – for example, active dampers that compensate for potholes or prevent a vehicle from leaning too far into a curve. With the modular research platform, the experts can not only record this interplay, but also adapt it to the customer’s wishes.
thyssenkrupp is also currently working to set up two MRP platforms for a major international auto manufacturer to support its research activities and pool experience. This will allow our experts to act much faster and share the results of all research activities much more easily with other original component manufacturers.