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Bertone-SKF FILO: Drive by Wire Concept

Once upon a time, there were cars with pedals, large steering wheels and dashboards. Enter such a car and you were instantly restricted. Your feet must go on the pedals, your hands on the steering wheel. And yet, true comfort is above all the possibility to change position. The FILO(1) concept from BERTONE and SKF changes all that. 

The steering wheel of the Filo

Photo: Bertone

Drive-by-wire technology engineered by SKF enabled a radical re-evaluation of the man-machine interface and the architectural of a car's interior. STILE BERTONE has created a living space inside a car devoid of the traditional constraints imposed on position and freedom of movement - a whole new experience. 

However, the FILO concept is more than the technology and the flexibility the technology offers. It is a philosophy, a language - a web of nerves and information that brings new visual, tactile and audio contact within the living space of car's interior. Mechatronics, the combination of mechanical devices under intelligent, electronic control, is at the heart of the FILO. It is these techniques that allow much of the interior redefinition, allowing for a reassessment of how a driver interacts with the vehicle and environment in which it is being driven. The BERTONE-SKF FILO represents a vision of the future. Not the distant future, but one that could be available in only a couple of model generations from now.

The "drive by wire" systems - smart electro-mechanical actuating units

Photo: Bertone

The "drive by wire" systems - the smart electro-mechanical actuating units and the ergonomic solutions - are fully functioning. These are detailed developments of technologies that have proven records in today's engineering. Filo is not just limited to an exercise in design or fashion, but it is a definite proposal to think and imagine the automobile in an organic way, almost as a living system that interacts with man and his environment. (1) filo sm wire; ~ di perle string of pearls; con un ~ di voce in a whisper

THE ARCHITECTURE STILE BERTONE used the opportunity drive by wire technology offered to re-design the interior architecture of the automobile and to create a living space devoid of the traditional constraints imposed on position and freedom of movement. Residualism is everywhere - from shoe buckles that have had no function for centuries, to the names we carry over from one device to another. And while this gives a familiarity, it is also restricting. Evolution means change, making obsolete what is redundant and moving forward. 

Photo: Automotive Intelligence

Contemporary technology allows us to jettison the ornaments and habits of tradition. FILO re-invents the man-machine interface, breaking with tradition, thinking simply - focusing attention on the individual. Steering, accelerator, brakes, gear change and clutch are all controlled by wire; the same technology used in the controls of a modern aircraft. The abolition of mechanical links for all these functions in favour of wire has created new space that allows for the complete re-design of the interior, fully exploiting the broad freedom that the power of electronics bring. 

Finally freed of the bulky and potentially dangerous presence of the steering column, the designers have been able to consider a dashboard free of obstructions and constraints, a large free surface, simple, clean, relaxing. A central binnacle houses the information and driving equipment, while the air outlets disappear and the air conditioning is diffused evenly. The waved floor offers various possibilities for the driver to rest his feet, no longer restricted by the presence of pedals. Both front and rear seats have the appearance of lounge sofas, with the rear positioned higher than that of the front to give greater forward visibility for the passengers. 

Entrance into the car is made easier due to the absence of the central pillar. A much closer link between the environment of the home and the car is inevitable. The closer the relationship between the actions of man and reactions of the machine, the more intuitive this relationship becomes.

DRIVE-BY-WIRE TECHNOLOGY SKF has drawn on its deep pool of skills to realise the drive-by-wire technology in the FILO concept. The Drive-By-Wire business unit, based in Italy, has driven the project from the beginning, taking design responsibility for the systems. Support has come from other areas of SKF and from our development partners. SKF's avionics and aerospace arm, SARMA, provided the development basis for the FILO concept's man-machine interface. 

The FILO car's braking system was developed jointly with Brembo, SKF's partner in brake-by-wire. Brembo's knowledge and experience in calliper design and braking systems, coupled with compact, smart electro-mechanical actuating units (SEMAUs) from SKF has produced a braking system that, even at this interim stage in the solution development, rivals conventional hydraulic arrangements in performance. Smart electro-mechanical actuating units are at the heart of drive-by-wire. Ball and roller screws convert between rotary and linear motion. Compact electric motors and gearing systems provide the power. Smart control, a combination of sensors, logic and control units, brings by-wire to life. Control systems for SEMAUs in different applications are all SKF developments. 

The Guida-Filo, blends the proven man-machine interface of today with the benefits of full by-wire operation, integrating throttle, braking and steering as hand controls. The centre boss accommodates all other controls that the driver needs. Gear selection is made by the button system already familiar from the world motor racing. Lights, wipers, audio, heating and air-conditioning are all located within driver's immediate reach. SKF is the automotive industry's leading supplier of bearing and sealing solutions. Working with specific partners, Brembo for braking systems for instance, SKF will be a leading player in the emerging "drive by wire" market. The FILO concept shows what it could be like.

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT STILE BERTONE is convinced that living and communicating are the two most important actions in daily use when driving a car: to live (in a functional and comfortable microcosm) and to communicate with the exterior world. The car becomes a living space very similar to that of a home. The home becomes a machine, integrating in its walled frame all the technological equipment necessary to improve the wellbeing of the inhabitants; electronics control the heating, the air-conditioning, the lighting and much more, improving the "liveability" of the space. Consuming a minimum of resources, both material and energy, harmonising more efficiently with nature and, at the same time, increasing safety and facilitating communication. 

The car becomes a home, by integrating in its metallic frame those "homely" sensations, which are typically domestic. Soft, uninterrupted surfaces, soft, warm colours, natural materials; controllable concealed lighting, guaranteed communication by radio, television, video, navigation systems; sensations of relaxation and harmony. 

All the control systems, be they for clutch, gearshift or steering, are coupled with the related vehicle stability and safety systems or engine ECU functions. At the heart of the SEMAU is an electro-mechanical arrangement that converts rotary motion to linear travel. SKF's long experience in producing ball and roller screws for the industrial markets and positioning systems for the machine tool industry provided a secure foundation on which to develop solutions suitable for the automotive industry. But the automotive industry is different. 

COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY The future generation NOKIA concept phone in the Guida-Filo is the wireless link with the outside world. With a combination of mobility and in-vehicle integration, the in-car communication of the future will provide increased efficiency, security and infotainment to the motoring experience. In the FILO people can receive routing assistance, real-time traffic alerts and remote vehicle diagnostics, not to mention information on weather, news and passing sights. 

As telematics gain in popularity and usage becomes more common, gone will be the days when it was necessary to reach for your wallet to pay for car parking tickets, petrol, or highway fees. It will be possible for all these payments procedures to be performed via the car's communication system. Internet access will be connected to a customised personal profile accessible via vehicle and wireless device, so that loading e-mail of personal banking information will be convenient and safe. Furthermore, drivers will be able to prompt the service provider to send special promotions on restaurants, movies, or other topics.

ENTERTAINMENT TECHNOLOGY Bose® Corporation's Automotive System Division provides FILO with a customised high-performance audio system. In the future the "livability" of the car will be enhanced by audio and entertainment systems that more closely emulate the home environment while simultaneously allowing passengers to enjoy the world around them without the constraints of a typical automobile. 

March 08, 2001

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