Electrical Blog #4 – Software Engineer Jens Langerak

 

85 48 65 6c 6c 6f 2c 20 57   6f 72 6c 64 21 03. Or as the steering wheel display would show that message “Hello, World!”. But first let me introduce myself. My name is Jens Langerak and I am a fourth-year Computer Science student. Since August 2015 I am a part-time team member of Forze. And I am one of the engineers who works on the software of the car.

Software in a car is for most people a bit vague and they are sometimes even surprised when they hear that there is software in a car. So, I will try to explain what it does.

The software does basically three things. It reads all the data from the sensors, it processes the acquired data and it finally tells all the actuators what to do. Since we have a lot of sensors and actuators, this means a lot of work. To do all that, we have 9 nodes in our car, each running its own code. So yes, software is important and there is a lot of it.

But now let’s get back to the beginning of this blog. One of the projects I did was the driver interface. In a previous blog, Sieger (Chief Electronics) wrote about how he designed the PCB’s for the driver interface and how he sends all the signals to the dashboard node. And that’s where I start. I check where a signal is coming from and what it should do. Next I send a message to the node that should perform the desired action. Further the steering wheel has a colorful display. I made it possible to show useful information on it. For instance, it shows if the car is ready to drive, how much hydrogen there is left and if the car is put into reverse (we don’t want any surprises like that).

I think this was the largest project I did for the car and also the most visual one. But it was by far not the project that took the most time. That is my favorite project, a chip that takes care of the communication between nodes and among others the display. But I will keep that project for another blog!

– Jens Langerak