We have been wrapping up one of our recent projects: the integration of MRS Electronic, Inc.’s new Gauge M7 Display with Telematics and other MRS Electronic, Inc. controllers into ATAC’s Firefly. The Firefly is an all-electric vehicle targeted towards cities and large campuses to serve as parking enforcement and general police vehicles. Its electrical system makes it ecofriendly, cheaper to maintain and operate over the lifespan of the vehicle.
MRS Electronic, Inc. was tasked with integrating the existing controllers on the Firefly, such as the main motor controller and battery monitoring system, into a well-rounded package that was both automotive grade as well as cheaper to market than previous systems. The initial implementation of the MRS Electronic, Inc. controllers and display was completed on the vehicle in a two-week time span.
Our controllers control everything from activating the forward and reverse modes of the motor controller, to the intermittent wiper controls and windshield washer motor. Our Gauge M7 display cleanly provides all basic vehicle parameters to the driver as reported over CAN bus from the motor controller and battery monitoring system. In addition to basic display of parameters, our Gauge M7 display also functions as the vehicles radio tuner, telematics device, GPS receiver for tracking purposes, and tracks the vehicles 9 degrees of movement to enable us to coordinate stability control and hill assists methods to further refine the Firefly’s overall abilities, without adding additional external hardware.
The Firefly returned to us for a few more weeks to finalize and fine tune the stability control, hill assist, and radio functionalities for the customer. Using both CAN message data feedback from the motor controller and the Gauge M7’s internal measurement unit to detect both the acceleration and pitch of the vehicle, we were able to effectively prevent any non-malicious accidental roll overs of the vehicle. The dynamics of a three wheeled vehicle can pose an issue for first time drivers who are used to the dynamics of a four wheeled vehicle, and might inadvertently turn too fast and overcome the limits of the vehicles design. Our Gauge M7 display was able to detect excess lateral acceleration of the vehicle and inhibit additional throttle input from the driver to ensure passenger and vehicle safety.
Another difference between the Firefly and a common vehicle on the road today is that when the accelerator pedal isn’t depressed, and the vehicle is on an inclined plane, the vehicle will roll back, as there is no idle power transmitted by an electric motor at rest. We used the Gauge M7’s internal measurement unit again to report the inclination of the vehicle, and over the CAN bus transmit the needed torque to keep the vehicle relatively still momentarily, so the driver has time to apply torque via the accelerator pedal after the brake pedal is depressed.
In keeping with the spirit of minimizing cost, we used the Gauge M7’s built in radio tuner to centralize and streamline the production of the vehicle by eliminating the need for an entire new radio unit. An external amplifier is still needed to power the vehicle’s speakers, but the processing and decoding of the FM signals, tuning, scanning, and presets are all handled by the Gauge M7’s program.
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To celebrate the end of this phase of the project, we took the Firefly to some of our favorite spots in downtown Dayton. Check out some of the pictures we took!