Pi Innovo: Control Applications IP Development Simplified
Walter Lucking, CEO
Walter Lucking heads up Pi Innovo, whose mission is to provide embedded system control solutions for the automotive and related transportation sectors. Starting its journey in the early ‘90s, Pi Innovo has evolved from an engineering consultancy focused on combustion engine control products, to a full-service supplier of custom embedded electronic control products, for a broad range of applications. Vehicle drive train electrification is playing a key role in shaping Pi Innovo’s product portfolio and engineering strategy, and Pi Innovo’s OpenECU family is growing to meet the needs of development teams needing to address ISO 26262 functional safety in areas such as electric vehicle supervisory control.
The OpenECU family includes controllers ranging from low complexity modules for simple communications gateway applications, to feature-rich ones for controlling high-end gasoline or diesel engines, and electric and hybrid vehicle supervisory control. “Using OpenECU as a starting point for control system development, our customers are able to develop their own intellectual property for brand differentiation, and to maintain their independence,” states Lucking, CEO, Pi Innovo. He further adds that the scope for implementing application prototypes on production-grade robust hardware in conformance with the ISO 26262 standards further enhances the reliability of the solution. The recently-launched M560 that targets electric and vehicle supervisory control for systems that contain hazards as high as ASIL-D per ISO 26262, is an excellent example of this.
Using OpenECU as a starting point for control system development, our customers are able to develop their own intellectual property for brand differentiation, and to maintain their independence
In terms of deploying solutions, Pi Innovo’s team understands that its clients need to bring customized embedded control solutions to the market as quickly as possible, without sacrificing capability or quality. Leveraging OpenECU and the experience of Pi Innovo’s engineering team allows them to do just that. Because the OpenECU software platform enables application development using native Simulink, with no need for any custom control blocks, porting of code is seamless between OpenECU controller hardware targets, and even to custom production derived hardware. “Typically, in the automotive domain, this takes weeks, but in the case of OpenECU, the process can be completed in hours,” says Dwight Hansell, VP of business development, Pi Innovo.
The value proposition enabled by Pi Innovo has attracted the attention of many companies in the automotive industry, including OEMs and their tier- 1 suppliers. Among them was a niche vehicle OEM that sought Pi Innovo’s services to develop a controller for a new vehicle development. The client sought to own the IP for all the control algorithms as well as a license to the hardware design; furthermore, the entire process had to be completed in a very short time. Pi Innovo was able to deliver suitable prototype hardware and the OpenECU model-based controls development environment immediately, by delivering the off-the-shelf M670 that provided a superset of the functionality required. Simultaneously, Pi Innovo’s team developed the cost-optimized production hardware, first samples of which were available within a couple of months, to which the algorithms that the customer had been working on using M670 were ported in a matter of hours, as opposed to days or weeks.
Pi Innovo seeks relationships with organizations to explore the synergy between OpenECU hardware and software, and technology that can create value-add solutions for electric and hybrid vehicles. The company is also on a mission to enhance its footprint in Europe, where regulations in favor of clean vehicles are generating huge activity, provide an opportunity to grow. Ultimately Walter Lucking sees great growth potential in providing the types of solutions that the evolving electric and hybrid vehicle market requires, and Pi Innovo is focused on meeting that challenge.
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