As vehicles become increasingly technologically advanced, they need to be tested. This new technology must not interfere with other technologies and must remain free from interference itself. Volvo Cars uses the 6,048 m3 chamber at the Awitar test facility to check the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of its vehicles.
Opened in January 2018, the Automotive Wireless Test and Research Facility, or Awitar, is already a world leader. The facility has been developed in close collaboration with the Swedish automotive industry, including Volvo Cars, the first customer to utilise the new test facility.
“We were equally ambitious 26 years ago when our first measurement chamber, Faraday, was constructed as we are today with Awitar,” says Björn Bergqvist, test engineer at Volvo Cars.
Awitar’s 6 m2 doorway is large enough for vehicles from electric bicycles and cars to lorries and buses, while the floor is designed to withstand the weight of a tank. Within the chamber, the vehicle’s electronics are tested to ensure that they are neither disrupted by the surrounding environment nor do they interfere with any other technology. The more complex the vehicles trafficking our roads become, the more important it is to conduct interference tests on the radar, cameras and sensors with which they are equipped.
“One of the major reasons we were keen to develop Awitar was that we can now measure against Chinese EMC standards. This was a universal problem, in that all available chambers were aging.”
Mimic connections on roads
The automotive industry as a whole is undergoing rapid change, with three areas in particular driving developments; electrification, connected vehicles and self-driving vehicles.
Not only that, but almost all new vehicles have some form of connectivity; whether that be to various apps and cloud services, self-weighing HGVs or cars that tell you where they are parked. The objective inside the Awitar test facility is to mimic connections on roads.
“Awitar is of course like a metal box that shields against electromagnetic fields. Vehicles must be resistant to electromagnetic fields. We are unable to conduct this kind of testing in the open air as this is illegal.”
The work of developing expertise is ongoing. In a joint research project, RISE and Volvo Cars will be attempting to recreate complex environments such as those in urban areas where electromagnetic radiation reflects between buildings.
“With the Awitar lab, RISE is offering a shielded, repeatable and controllable test environment that provides a safety link between testbed and public road,” says Krister Kilbrandt, technical project leader for the Awitar chamber at RISE. “Better that we press the emergency stop button while the vehicle is confined in here than that something should go wrong in traffic.”
Testing electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) reveals the ability of a device, piece of equipment or system to function in its electromagnetic environment without causing unacceptable levels of interference within that environment.
Awitar is located at RISE’s Borås facility. The measurement hall is 28 x 18 metres with a ceiling height of 12 metres and is adapted to current and forthcoming requirements, for example, as laid down by the UN, EU and China.