Applying Electronic Control to a Mechanical Powertrain Component


Pi Innovo has supplied a combination of OpenECU rapid controls prototyping technology and engineering services to allow a manufacturer of vehicle transmissions systems to develop the in-house capability to add sophisticated model based electronic controls to what were previously predominately mechanical powertrain components.

The manufacturer was reaching the limits of fuel economy and ride quality that could be achieved using mainly mechanical control of a successful range of vehicle transmissions systems, yet did not have the in-house expertise to develop the electronics hardware and control algorithms required to apply computer control.


Pi Innovo worked with the manufacturer to understand the electrical interfaces required to add electronic control to their product and specified a development system to allow creation and testing of control algorithms on a development vehicle. Engineers from Pi Innovo then worked on-sight with the customer’s engineers to train them on the use of the system and collaborate on the creation of the initial control algorithm.

Results and Impact

The customer has been able to carry out an extensive R&D program using sophisticated electronic control components, without the need to acquire in-house skills for electronic hardware design or embedded software design.

Pi Innovo delivered a development toolchain based on the G850 OpenECU rapid controls prototyping hardware and the OpenECU Developer Platform Sim-API tool suite that integrates with MATLAB®/Simulink® model based controls development environment.

The G850 controller provides a high input/output capability which was useful during research and early prototyping. The OpenECU common tool chain concept then makes it very quick and easy for the customer to re-target their control strategies to the M250 low cost embedded controller. The M250 is more cost effective for production use as it has a lower input/output capability that matches only the specific requirements of this application.

Project Features

Rapid controls prototyping
Model based development