Cidaut’s occupants monitoring solutions

It seems obvious that driving automation needs new capabilities from the vehicle, lots of sensors have to be integrated to understand what is happening around, short and long range communication systems have to be developed to understand what is happening a little bit further, but, what about the occupants and their safety?

In the frame of Integra project, Cidaut is taking care of the occupants and their safety by modifying the design of the vehicle interior in accordance to the new needs. The first step is to know what is happing inside, with a webcam the occupants are recorded and thanks to the artificial intelligence the information is immediately processed to get relevant information. The functionalities developed by now include, the recognition of the occupant, the counting of flickers and yawns along time, the inclination of the head, the direction of the glance and the position and distance of the body. By processing all this information it is possible to know the alertness level of the driver and the position of all the occupants.

The alertness level is relevant for both standard and automated driving. In the case of the standard driving, the system can detect drowsiness, distraction or illness and alert the driver and/or the rest of the users of the road of this circumstance. In the case of the automated driving, mainly at level 3, it will be possible to alternate the responsibility of the driving between the vehicle and the driver. When the vehicle needs to take over the driving responsibility to the human, it has to be sure that the driver is ready to assume the control of the vehicle, thanks to the application developed it is easy to make this transition in a safety way.

The position of the occupants is also critical for their safety. The high automated levels of driving, mainly 3, 4 and 5, will allow the occupants to take positions inside the vehicle different from standardized ones. In these positions the usual restrain systems are unable to protect the occupants in a proper way. Attending to this, it is necessary to develop new restrain systems  suitable for the driving scenarios linked to the automated position and it is also necessary to monitor the occupants position in order to activate the new restrains systems in the most suitable manner attending to the kind of collision, the biometric characteristics of the occupant, and the position.

The work driving to these results is been performed in INTEGRA project, funded by and CDTI through Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación in the frame of the funding for Excellence in Research Centers “Cervera”. CER – 2021 1031.

Cidaut presents research and development projects’ results at SAHE

In the frame of SAHE, Hybrid and Electric Automotive Show, celebrated in Valladolid from the 22nd to the 24th of April, Cidaut has presented its last innovations related to sustainable mobility and intelligent transport.

At Cidaut’s booth, it was possible to see and touch two of the prototypes development in the last research and development projects carried out by the technological center. The first one was a crash test prototype that had been tested according to Regulation 94 homologation, in the frontal part of the vehicle the consequences of the crash were still visible. The rest of the vehicle has been repaired in order to shortly make an additional lateral pole crash test. Inside the vehicle, in the driving position, a crash test dummy was seated in order to make this testing tool familiar to the visitors. Most of the youngest assistants to the show were surprised and happy to see and touch the dummy while very few were surprised or scared.

The second prototype was a functional extra-light and safe urban electric vehicle. The interior of this prototype was monitored with a simple webcam and thanks to the application of artificial vision solutions, the vehicle was able to determine the position of the occupants, the direction of their glance, the number of flickers and yawns, and the alertness level of the driver. This solution will be applied to avoid unattended driving in automated driving scenarios, but also in standard driving conditions. The vehicle was open for the visitors to come in and test the performance of the monitoring systems. Again the youngest visitors were the ones who enjoyed the most the technological advances. Great to know the interest of youngest attendants in innovative solutions.

BIONANOPOLYS Project – Accelerating the introduction of biobased nano-enabled materials into the market

The Bionanopolys project (https://www.bionanopolys.eu/) continues to progress towards the objective of creating a network of pilot plants dedicated to the production of nanocomposites for sectors such as automotive, packaging and textile.

The consortium of Bionanopolys met for the 2nd Executive board meeting, hosted by project coordinator, at 22nd/ 23rd March 2022. The aim of the meeting was to share the successful updates of the different WPs through the Tasks leaders within each WPs.

On the other hand, Bionanopolys network extends across Europe and intends to build up a strong community on the development of safe nano-enabled bio-based materials. From March to June 2022, the national Bionanopolys stakeholder events take place.

To analyse how companies can benefit from the development of these materials and the implementation of the other services of the project, Spanish workshop was organised on 29 March. In this event, it was shown the network of pilot plants that CIDAUT makes available to the project and to the further Open Innovation Test Bed.

Recycled fire-resistant materials in the CREATOR project

The high volumes of plastic waste – for example from construction and demolition, aeronautics and electronics – pose a huge economic and environmental challenge. Although the best option would be to recycle and reuse, the cost of collecting, sorting and purifying these materials is often too high, so they are disposed of by burning, landfill or by “downcycling“, i.e. reuse in low-value products.

A specific problem is that many plastic materials contain hazardous flame retardants, such as bromine. These flame retardants were used in countless products from the 1970s onwards, but have since been banned across the EU because they can remain in the environment for years, accumulating to toxic levels.

Since 2019, the partners in CREATOR are developing a new purification process for waste material, using so-called continuous extraction technologies (supercritical CO2 and eutectic solvents in twin-screw extruders). CREATOR covers the whole value chain, starting with the collecting of thermoplastic waste streams from construction and waste electrical and electronic equipment.

The project implements ways to collect secondary raw materials, identify the presence of hazardous flame retardants, remove these contaminants from the materials and finally reuse the materials in similar applications to its original markets and also in other applications. This will convert waste into valuable raw materials, generating benefits for waste collection and sorting companies and recyclers, and reducing the amount of plastic waste in the environment.

In this process CIDAUT is working on the analysis of the improvement of the fire resistance of recycled plastic material by using environmentally friendly flame retardant additives.

If you would like more information about the project, please visit https://creatorproject.eu/

After the COVID impasse, numerous hydrogen events are being organised with the participation of CIDAUT

It seems that the desire to share experiences and knowledge about hydrogen has not diminished during this time. After the break caused by the pandemic, events related to hydrogen are stronger than ever and occupy a relevant place. In this sense, CIDAUT has had the opportunity to attend several of those that have already taken place and those that are coming soon.

The Extraordinary General Assembly of the Spanish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Platform (PTE HPC) was held on 29th April, in which CIDAUT was present. The aim of this Assembly was to ratify a series of changes in the focus and orientation of the Platform with a view to the new Call for Technology Platforms 2023-2024 and to inform the attending members, through the participation of three public bodies, about the open or upcoming calls of interest for the hydrogen sector.

Experts from more than 40 companies analysed the levers of renewable hydrogen on 30 March in Gasnam. José Ignacio Domínguez attended this session representing CIDAUT and all of attendees agreed that hydrogen can contribute to Spain reaching its climate objectives, although it will be necessary to break down some barriers. They talked about increasing the intensity of the funding included in the national calls for proposals and removing some obstacles, such as, for example, receiving funding against final certification. The need to categorise the project as R&D&I by a certifier, to extend the object of the subsidy to network injection projects and to blending in combustion engines was also mentioned. The need to develop a regulatory framework that allows renewable hydrogen to be treated as a fuel of general interest and not just as a mere chemical product was discussed. Another of the barriers discussed was that the injection of hydrogen into the grid is a necessary lever, and therefore the implementation of real experiences to validate the technology should be promoted. Among other barriers, the urgency of the implementation of the Guarantees of Origin mechanism for renewable gases was also mentioned.

Last 4th of May a Practical Workshop on the PERTE on Energy, Renewable Hydrogen and Storage (PERTE ERHA) took place in CIDAUT. In this workshop, representatives of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO) through IDAE (Santiago González Herráiz) and CIUDEN (Miguel Angel Delgado) informed about the recent PERTE ERHA call. On behalf of CIDAUT, Jose Ignacio Dominguez made a presentation about the Future of H2 technologies and CIDAUT’s developments and Alvaro Villarino presented the Centratec3 Programme. The event was held both in person and online and was followed by more than 30 regional entities, which indicates the interest in this topic. 

Last but not least, the European Hydrogen Energy Conference (EHEC 2022) will be held in Madrid on 18, 19 and 20 May. This conference is the European conference of reference in the field of hydrogen energy. EHEC was identified in Spain’s 2020 Hydrogen Roadmap as one of the measures to position Spain as a benchmark for these technologies in Europe. EHEC provides an excellent framework for upgrading hydrogen energy technologies. It will bring together the latest advances in research and business related to hydrogen.

On this edition, CIDAUT will participate with two oral presentations and a poster. Additionally, CIDAUT will be part of the Side Event organised by the Spanish Hydrogen Technology Platform, which will be attended by Jose Ignacio Dominguez. Miguel Castaños will speak on “Multi-zone thermodynamic model for the design of piston compressors for hydrogen at high pressures” and Elena Castilla will present on “Analysis of the integration of bioethanol production plants with bioethanol steam reforming processes to produce hydrogen”. The poster by Marcos Sánchez will deal with “Effect of air temperature on steady-state ammonia combustion by diffusion”.

CIDAUT participates in the Zeppelin green hydrogen project

CIDAUT is one of the research entities participating in the Zeppelin industrial research project, which aims to develop efficient and circular technological solutions for the production and storage of green hydrogen. The project aims to use innovation to reduce the current costs of renewable fuel production.

Led by the company Aqualia, Zeppelin has the participation of other actors in the hydrogen sector such as Redexis, Naturgy, Norvento, Perseo, Reganosa, Técnicas Reunidas and Repsol.

The general objectives of the project are to research new green hydrogen production technologies that are alternatives to electrolysis and that promote the circular economy through the recovery of waste and by-products from different sectors (agri-food, textiles, WWTPs, refineries, etc.).

Currently, 96% of the hydrogen produced in the world comes from fossil fuels and only 1% from renewable sources. Spain’s Hydrogen Roadmap calls for 25% of the hydrogen consumed by industry to be renewable by 2030, which will begin to power our trains, planes and vehicles. The Zeppelin project will contribute to achieving these Roadmap targets.

New materials and carriers for storing green hydrogen and modelling tools for the different technologies developed will also be evaluated. All of this, aligned with the objective of reducing the energy, economic and environmental costs associated with current hydrogen production and promoting safe, efficient and clean energy.

Within Activity 4: Research into H2 storage processes, led by Redexis, CIDAUT will collaborate in the research into alternative storage processes for green hydrogen in the form of ammonia. A comparative study with other forms of H2 storage will be carried out and a process for H2 storage in form of ammonia adapted to production and use needs will be dimensioned.

Zeppelin is funded by the Centre for Technological and Industrial Development (CDTI), through the CDTI Missions programme, aimed at financing large strategic business R&D initiatives that propose solutions to cross-cutting and strategic challenges for Spanish society and with the support of the Ministry of Science and Innovation. It has a budget of more than 7 million euros and the research will last until the end of 2024.The budget granted is financed by the European Union through the Next Generation Fund.

On 16 february 2022, CIDAUT, jointly with Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico e Industrial (CDTI) and Instituto para la Competitividad Empresarial de Castilla y León (ICE), have organized the event “Cluster 4: proposal preparation for Horizon Europe Programme”

The official opening of this event was carried out by Mr. Jesús Jiménez de Miguel (ICE’s Valladolid Territorial Director), who remarked the importance that the participation in this kind of Research Programmes has for the Region.

Next, Mr. Francisco Núñez (Project Manager in the Technology Transfer Office of CIDAUT) presented useful information that anyone interested in submitting a proposal to the Horizon Europe Programme should know and have in mind to do it.

Mr. Enrique Pelayo (National Contact Point for Cluster 4 regarding Digital Technologies in the CDTI) show all the attendants not only important information about the call which is currently open for the proposal submission, but he also spoke about the future opportunities inside this cluster and the latest news available about important initiatives like the European Chips Act, which will be surely reflected in the next future European calls.

Cluster 4 – Digital NCPs

This interesting presentation was followed by Mr. Carlos Toledo (National Contact Point for Cluster 4 regarding Industrial Technologies in the CDTI) that made a deep review of all the topics that the current call has opened, including practical aspects and issues that should be considered to prepare a competitive proposal.

Cluster 4 – Industry NCPs

The event continued with a very detailed presentation done by Mrs. Isabel Pelaez (European Programmes Unit of the Institute for Business Competitiveness of Castilla y León (ICE)) about the Different services to impulse the participation of Castilla and Leon companies in the Horizon Europe Programme and other European RTD Programmes.

Finally, Mr. Francisco Núñez closed the event explaining the training and support Program for R&D Business Centr@Tec3.

Centr@tec3´s aim is to transfer innovative solutions and relevant technologies in each thematic area to entities and organizations in Castilla y León, through demonstrative actions and training of their technicians and managers, with the ultimate aim of encouraging companies to incorporate innovations and new technologies that will make them more competitive.

 Centr@Tec3 includes different actions and activities for SMEs, self employed professionals and entrepreneurs, encircled mainly around the following 5 big thematic areas: Support of the Internationalization of RTD activities, Increase of the awareness, demonstration and training, Support of the Digital Transformation, Innovation in Processes and Design of new Products and Services and Technologic Entrepreneurs support.

INTEGRA Project completes its first year with an open web workshop to disseminate the main achievements

The four members of INTEGRA partnership, CTAG, Cidaut, Itene and i2cat, have participated in the web workshop celebrated at the end of the first year of the project. The aim of the event was to explain the technological challenges to introduce the automated driving solutions in the urban environment, to show the technological research lines of the project in the coming years, to show the business opportunities in the automated driving field and to get feed-back from the stakeholders of the urban mobility providers.

The event was opened by Francisco Sánchez, from CTAG, who, as project coordinator, introduced the current scenario and the technological challenges of the automated driving. After the introduction, Rosa Blanco, from CTAG, presented “Red de Excelencia CERVERA” and gave a technical explanation about the importance and the solutions for the automated and connected driving in urban environment. Next, Javier Romo, from Cidaut explained the influence of the automated driving and the new urban scenarios in the safety of the vehicle occupants and of the vulnerable road users, and the need to establish new solutions with from an integral safety point of view. Itene’s intervention, made by Mireia Calvo, was focused on the particularities of the goods delivery based on automated driving solutions, paying special attention to the new opportunities and challenges. The last technical presentation was made by Jesús Alonso, from i2cat, who explained the new simulation tools developed in the project to reproduce the vehicle to everything (V2X) communications and to understand the automated driving influence on the real traffic. After the questions and answers turn, the event was closed by Sergio Güerri from Itene, who was the organizer of the web workshop.

Cidaut participates in Green Deal Initiative through Probono Project

In our commitment to fight climate change, Cidaut is contributing to European Commission’s ambitious policies framed in Green Deal Initiative. The European Climate Pact is an EU-wide initiative inviting people, communities and organisations to participate in climate action and build greener Europe. This initiative is based on connecting and sharing knowledge, learning about climate change, and developing, implementing and scaling up solutions.  

In this frame, Cidaut, together with 46 partners, participates in Probono European project. The vision of Probono is to create a people-focused European construction industry that works with a community of stakeholders to create sustainable positive and zero-carbon emitting green buildings and neighbourhoods. The consortium consists of construction actors, public asset service mangers, municipalities, technology solutions providers and experts to transform six European districts into green buildings and neighbourhoods.

The six districts are located in Madrid, Dublin, Aarhus, Brussels, Porto and Prague, where living labs will be implemented to validate Probono’s innovations. The living labs will provide experimentation and innovation environment and will allow testing different solutions for sustainable buildings, circular economy, material up-grading and electromobility. These solutions will be implemented in the coming five years.

The project will provide strong examples of green buildings and neighbourhoods’ technological and social innovation implementation by focusing on building infrastructure and exploiting digitalisation and smart technologies. Probono will create green buildings and neighbourhoods Strategic Planning Tools and provide evidence-based policy recommendations, standardisation actions, and robust adoption and commercialisation strategies. Project work will engage citizens in co-designing and co-delivering sustainable GBNs.

Acknowledgment

The research leading to these results received funding from the European Union (EU) project PROBONO (GA #101037075)

Is it feasible to produce electric vehicles in a micro-factory?

Cidaut together with the partners of Avangard European project is trying to get the answer to this challenging question. One of the objectives of the project is to design an electric vehicle assembly line, with 90% cost reduction relative to a standard carmaker assembly line, to produce modular four wheels electric vehicles and e-bikes. 

In order to obtain the ambitious target, IFEVS, as vehicle designer, has adopted a modular solution based on high strength steel tubular design, with highly automated 3D laser cutting and bending processes that have been properly though to avoid mistakes during assembly phase. The manufacturing process also implies the use of innovative 3D printing solutions for both metallic and plastic parts, and also the purchasing and assembly process is controlled by block-chain and cybersecurity solutions to warranty the low cost and efficiency of the project.

Cidaut’s contribution to the project is related to the security of the occupants and also of the vulnerable road users. In the case of the occupant and smart front end has been designed to maximize the energy absorbed and also the passenger spaces has been reinforced to avoid any significant deformation and finally an specific restraint system has been developed adopted to the particularities of these vehicles. In the case of the vulnerable road users’ protection, active and passive measures have been adopted. In the case of the passive solutions the front of the vehicle has been analysed to create “soft” surfaces. In the case of the active, artificial intelligent solutions are being applied to identify vulnerable road users and advice the driver or brake automatically.

Avangard project has completed two out of three years and it is expected that the final answer to the initial question will be yes.

Acknowledgment

The research leading to these results received funding from the European Union (EU) project Avangard (GA #869986)