Bandung – BRIN Public Relations. BRIN fellows, do you know that the transportation technology in the future must reduce dependence on fossil fuels? This is apparent from the statement made by the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, who declared that all modes of transportation in Indonesia in the future must be environmentally friendly. Use of electricity as a substitute for fossil fuels is expected to make the mode of transportation in Indonesia close to zero-carbon.

The National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) through the Technical Science Research Organization (OR IPT) is developing electric vehicles that are autonomous or without a driver. The initial step is to make electric vehicles semi-autonomous, using the mechanism of remote driving or teleoperation.

The development of electric vehicles previously focused on mastering the technology of key components such as electric motors, battery, control systems/power electronics, platforms and charging systems.

“While the National Research Priority (PRN) for Electric Vehicles in 2020-2024 focuses on mastering the key technology of autonomous vehicles, such as object/sensor detection systems, telecommunications systems, human-to-vehicle interaction, computer vision, etc.,” explained BRIN Acting Head of IPT Research Organization, Budi Prawara.

The acting Head of the Center for Electric Power and Mechatronics, who is also the Coordinator of PRN for electric vehicles, Haznan Abimanyu, said that, in 2021, research on this teleoperation system began under a team consisting of combined resources of researchers such as from the Informatics Research Center, Center for Electric Power and Mechatronics Research, Electronics and Telecommunication Research Center, and Instrumentation Development Center.

“This research team designed and built the platform of electric vehicle used from scratch. The platform is intended for one-passenger vehicles. Globally, the future electric vehicles for urban use are designed for one or two passengers. This vehicle is often referred to as a micro electric vehicle,” he explained

MeVI – TDS, Remote Steering Electric Vehicle

Micro Electric Vehicle – Teleoperated Driving System (MEVi – TDS) is the term for the electric vehicles that are built and driven remotely. By design, this MEVi – TDS looks simply futuristic. Equipped with 4 LED lights at the front, oval-shaped brake lights at the rear, and 6 LED lights forming a triangle as the turn signals. On the top of the hood, an amber colored rotator light is added which will light up as an alarm in the event of a teleoperation malfunction.

MEVi – TDS has the dimension of 1,475 mm in length, 990 mm in width and 1,470 mm in height. The weight is about 80 kg., using 8-inch wheels, 1,150 mm wheelbase with 70 mm ground clearance, equipped with a 48 Volt 12 Ah lithium ion battery. As the unit only uses a 12 Ah battery, the maximum use is about 46 minutes with a maximum speed of 10,88 km/hour. The battery capacity will be increased, but the maximum speed of the MEVi – TDS will not be increased for now as the vehicle is driverless.

MeVi – TSD uses a 750 Watt BLDC (motor brushless dc) motor, 1 HP power, 2.36 Nm of torque which is capable to hold loads up to 600 Kg. MEVi – TDS is also equipped with 6 ultrasonic sensors as proximity sensors, IMU sensor to determine the vehicle orientation, GPS to accurately determine the position and 4 cameras that function as vision. The control center as the data processor in MEVi – TDS uses Nvidia Jetson AGX Xavier which will communicate with the workstation at the command station using an AC WiFi network (IEEE 802.11ac). The topology of telecommunication infrastructure used is a multihop wireless network.

On the command station side, several hardwares are used to give commands to the vehicle, using a workstation equipped with a GPU that is used to process data transfers from the vehicle. “In addition, the unit is also equipped with a complete simulator with its driving force wheel and uses 3 monitors supported by a free-standing triple monitor stand,” said Haznan.

Potentially Used in Special Areas

These single or double seater autonomous vehicles or better known as individual transportation can be used in limited areas or special areas, for example, in botanical gardens, tourist attractions, residential, industrial, and office areas. The vehicles can also be used as feeders for other mass transportation, and the like. This potentially broad work is expected to establish cooperation with partners that are currently being explored.

“Cooperation with various partners is expected to encourage and raise the spirit of the development team, in addition to scientific outputs in the form of scientific publications and intellectual property rights, and more importantly the works that can be implemented,” said Budi.

In this research of autonomous vehicles, the crucial part is when the researchers integrate the mechanical or electrical systems with the object detection systems based on LIDAR, RADAR or cameras, as well as telecommunications systems, so that they can function as autonomous vehicles.

“We hope that this integration process can run well and the performance test can be carried out soon. This way we can certainly attract industrial partners who will later commercialize the results of this research through the licensing process. In addition, MEVo-TDS is expected to be the forerunner in the development of autonomous vehicles for larger passenger capacity, such as micro buses and medium and large buses,” concluded Budi.

Using the teleoperation system capability that has been earlier developed in developed countries, this work will produce a prototype that is close to the manufacturing level. (cw, kg, nu/ ed: tnt)