Leti and EFI Automotive are collaborating on a project to improve reliability and response time of low-cost automotive components by equipping the devices with sophisticated model predictive control techniques.

Model predictive control (MPC) is an advanced method of process control that makes use of a model of the system to predict its behavior. The control law is based on an optimization technique that computes the system inputs by considering the reference that the system output has to follow, together with the effort (energy) that is applied on the system inputs and some constraints that may exist within the system, typically saturation of the system inputs.

MPC also allows electronics equipment to perform at levels that are not possible with standard control laws, such as those used with proportional-integral-derivative (PID) controllers. This sophisticated technique is rarely used on low-cost, low-capability computing units because it requires solving optimization problems under constraints, which is a complex computational task.

Leti and EFI Automotive are evaluating the implementation of MPC on low-cost, low-computational-capability computing platforms, such as microcontrollers or low-cost digital signal processors (DSPs). The goal is to improve the dynamics of the systems considered, because automotive certification is easier when the control law is implemented on a DSP or a microcontroller. One EFI Automotive product that will benefit from the MPC implementation is the Air Loop Actuator.

Marie-Sophie Masselot, Business Development Manager at Leti, noted that individuals in the control community are attempting to make MPC available for these systems by resolving the underlying optimization problem on a low computational-capability computing platform, which generally leads to suboptimal performance for the controlled system. She said, “Our project with EFI Automotive will take into account specifics to offset the drop in performance, or response time, introduced when solving the model predictive control problem on this low computational-capability computing platform.”

In addition to transferring its expertise in MPC to EFI Automotive, Leti says it will develop software-automation tools dedicated to a given problem as a feasibility demonstration for the MPC project, and then make the tools easily expandable to similar control challenges. They will develop an MPC law for a given system and, with its increased expertise, EFI will expand this control technique to other systems.

“By combining Leti’s MPC expertise with our know-how in real-time processing on low-cost, low-computational capability computing units, we expect to dramatically improve the response time and reliability of our devices that are key to operating today’s complex vehicles,” said Vincent Liebart, Innovation Engineer at EFI Automotive.