Our proprietary development IBSe has not only proven itself in several Formula E seasons as an innovative brake-by-wire system with maximum recuperation capability but also as a powerful, reliable and ground-breaking technology. The system is now being used by OEMs and suppliers for the pre-development phases of new vehicle architectures.
Indeed, the topic is hotly debated in the industry: When will IBSe go into series production? It was reason enough for ATZ to highlight the topic in its current issue. We have asked our Development Manager for motorsport, Simon Zollitsch, to give us some insights here and help us make sense of it all.
Simon, until recently the IBSe system was “only” installed in about 80% of Formula E cars, but now the technology is being used in pre-development phases as well. What knowledge or advantages have been gained from the racing circuit that make the technology so interesting now for pre-development? Where is all of this demand coming from suddenly?
SZ “That’s easy. The IBSe has shown in Formula E that it is not only powerful but also 100% reliable. So it’s an experimental system that is no longer in its experimental stage. It’s also easy to integrate into brake circuits using a plug-in connection and the SW connection can be set up in just a few hours. The integrated fall-back level guarantees full control over the vehicle, even if mistakes are made during software development. This allows engineers in the pre-development phase to easily gain complete control of the brake. In production vehicles, brakes are actually always the purview of the suppliers so they have control because they provide the braking system. The reason is they want to protect their know-how, so they do not offer open interfaces.”
Is that a surprising development or a positive side effect for you as Development Manager at LSP? Or is that what you have been working towards since the beginning? What is your personal view on motorsport as a testing ground and as a springboard of innovation and inspiration for the “wider public”?
SZ “Personally, I regret that in some parts of motorsport it is a bit of a lost tradition that the sport functions as a testing ground and as a prelude to series development. With the introduction of electrified racing in general, and with the IBSe for us as a company, I see a really great opportunity to go back to the old days and to push ahead with developments that are really relevant for the general public!
In your opinion, which players on the market should urgently address the IBSe technology? And why with LSP?
SZ “Overall, and for all players involved, series development still has a lot of catching up to do, which is really due to the currently available braking systems. Fortunately, LSP also develops solutions for mass production that of course incorporate the latest findings from motorsport. Our customers – OEMs – in turn use the knowledge they have gained from Formula E in brake management and recuperation for pre-development in their own series projects. Both worlds can help the other move forward, and we have the advantage of being at home in both of them.”
When will brake-by-wire technology become the standard in production vehicles? When will the first “normal” passenger vehicles with IBSe hit the streets?
SZ “That actually already happened! There are first systems in circulation from Bosch and Conti, for example, that are already installed in electric vehicles such as the BMW i3 or the E-Golf. But these systems are not fully developed yet and have the disadvantage that recuperation is capped. Not nearly as much energy is recovered as the engine and battery would actually allow. With the system developed by LSP, we could generate significant advantages in terms of energy efficiency and significantly increased range per vehicle charge. That's why we are working hard to bring this system into series production with a partner.”
What other hurdles have to be overcome? What are the next development steps?
SZ ”The development of production vehicles is much more complex than in motorsport. That is mainly because in motorsport you can assume a trained driver will have good control of the vehicle. The automobiles are serviced at extremely close intervals – during tests and races, performance and racing engineers constantly monitor all of the important parameters of the vehicles. This means that many of the safety and diagnostic features required for a production vehicle are handled by the engineers on site. This is where humans are even faster in learning and understanding than new software can be developed. Still, from our point of view we are already on the right track. The development of a series component simply needs a little more time.”
As a think tank, LSP is always on the lookout for the next innovation or the next way to optimise. Can IBSe also be improved? If so, how?
SZ "The classic motorsport answer to this would of course be: “Lighter, further, faster is always possible!” And that is indeed a great driving force. We are constantly thinking about whether all the parts in the system are really necessary, or whether we can perhaps leave something out or use a lighter material. The software is also always an important adjustment option. The longer you spend with the system, the greater the understanding of that system, which is in turn used in new control algorithms that make the system better without any hardware changes. For Season 7 – 2020/21 – we are currently working on a significant increase in the system's response performance. The idea is if you can brake harder later, then you will be able to drive faster for longer – and of course win races.
But our biggest project at the moment is preparing for the so-called Gen 3 car, the FIA Formula E car that is going to be designed starting in 2022/23. It’s a new brake concept that is being pursued here where a friction brake is only installed on the front axle. The rear axle then brakes only with the electric motor. This of course increases the demands on front brake reliability, but with the great team we have I know that we'll crack the case and design another world-class braking system. And who knows, maybe by then you will be driving to the race in Berlin with an LSP brake system in your car.
Have a question for Simon Zollitsch? Let us know! We look forward to hearing from you at firstname.lastname@example.org