Flexibility A Key For Future Cars

As regulations and specifications evolve, automotive OEMs can leverage flexibility.

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First, a bit of eye candy seen in IC Manage’s booth at the recent Design Automation Conference in San Francisco.

The McLaren P1 GTR. It was impossible not to stop and drool over this gorgeous, non-street-legal racecar, where all bets are off when it comes to following safety and reliability specifications.

Source: Dean Drako, IC Manage

According to McLaren’s website: “Without road-car regulations to hold it back, the McLaren P1™ GTR pushes everything to the limit. Available only to McLaren P1™ owners, production of the track-focused GTR began upon completion of the 375th and final road car.

The mid-mounted powerplant has an output of 1,000PS (986bhp) and includes an ERS-style push-to-pass system. The large fixed rear wing features a Formula 1™-derived Drag Reduction System and the wing mirrors have been repositioned to the A pillars to put them closer to the eye line of the driver and reduce aerodynamic drag. The car sits at a fixed ride height on race-prepared suspension over 19-inch motorsport alloy wheels. Below the rear wing is the exposed, centrally mounted inconel and titanium alloy exhaust. This all new straight cut twin pipe design has been developed exclusively for the GTR.”

As I was admiring the McLaren, Dean Drako, CEO of IC Manage (and other companies including Drako Motors, which is building its own racecar) explained that the rear wing applies downward force to the car as it’s being driven around a track and lets the car stay more stable around turns. Fun!

It would be a different story for McLaren if this were a street-legal vehicles, as likely every system within the car would be subject to various safety, reliability, emissions, and other regulations.

Add in electrification and autonomous features, and things get even more complex, as I discovered when researching the use of FPGAs in the automotive segment today. We don’t even know yet what exactly the right architecture for SoCs processing AI algorithms should be yet, so how can an OEM feel comfortable committing to an ASIC? Beyond that, when it comes to keeping the intricate details of regulations up to date, embedded programmable logic could play a role.

This is all evolving very quickly, and it is a challenge to try and get a handle on all of the areas that are revving up, and I’m not even an OEM, but I can imagine for many of the automakers, building in some flexibility would only be a benefit down the road.



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