Renault Opens New £7M Car Electromagnetics Test Centre

Renault Opens New £7M Car Electromagnetics Test Centre  
Filed under:
News, Technology, Renault
on 04/05/2006

Source: Renault

It may look like a villain’s lair straight out of a James Bond movie, but sadly for the female employees at Renault’s new EMC (Electromagnetics Compatibility) Unit which opens today in Aubevoye, France, the chances of a certain Mr Craig appearing at the company’s new testing facility as part of filming for Casino Royale are probably as slim as the women Britain’s most famous secret agent traditionally pursues.

Renault’s new EMC Unit was designed and built at a cost of £7m, and although its investment represents just a fraction of today’s multi-million pound action movie budgets, the French marque’s new three-chamber testing unit contains such hi-tech car electronics testing equipment that even gadget man Q might feel pangs of jealousy when his spies report back.

The new unit, which isn’t housed in an underground bunker or behind a revolving wall, is dedicated to the study of electromagnetic compatibility in vehicles and contains all of the facilities required for the testing of electronic equipment in vehicles. Given that the Renault range is undergoing unprecedented development, the opening of the new EMC unit could not be more timely as it will enable the lead times involved in testing and validating vehicles to be reduced significantly.

Renault has been involved in EMC and radio frequency research for over 20 years. Now, keeping pace with the use of electronics in vehicle safety systems, such as ABS and emergency brake assist, ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) and airbags, not to mention comfort systems, including hands-free kits and satellite navigation, Renault has assembled the expertise and technical facilities required for EMC testing under one roof.

The unit will commence work in May 2006, with all future Renault models to be tested by the EMC unit, beginning with the successor to the Laguna. The tests will start with the first prototypes and will continue throughout the development of the vehicles. In time, the tests will be carried out on Renault and Nissan models within the framework of the Alliance.

The EMC unit provides Renault with the means of expanding its expertise in the area of electrical and electronic systems performance, with three overall goals: to ensure the immunity of vehicles to electromagnetic interference from external sources, to control electromagnetic emissions from vehicles and finally to measure the radiation performance of radio aerials. Thus, the teams have been equipped with the additional facilities needed to continue their work in the following three areas:

- Electromagnetic immunity (EMI) - this describes the vehicle’s ability to resist electromagnetic interference from external sources. Aspects such as the filtering of the electronic module inputs, the design of the printed circuits, and the screening and arrangement of the vehicle wiring will be monitored and validated by the EMC unit. This area also deals with the mutual compatibility of on-board items of equipment, or their capacity to operate in tandem without interference.

- Electromagnetic quietness (EMQ) - this describes the capacity of a vehicle to operate without causing interference to the surrounding environment.

- Radio frequencies - purpose is to optimise the reception and transmission of RF data used by on-board radio, satellite navigation and digital television systems.

World first

Occupying an area of 1,800 m2, the new unit is equipped with the latest technologies in the EMC field. The building houses three Faraday chambers grouped around a remote control room, with each room designed to be impervious to electromagnetic interference from external sources.

Unique of its type, the radio frequency test chamber is dedicated to testing the radiation performance of radio aerials. Incorporating a 12-metre diameter arch comprised of 132 high-frequency and low-frequency sensors, the chamber enables 3D radiation diagrams to be produced in two hours compared with about two days for 2D patterns. In the immunity test chamber, the electromagnetic resistance of the vehicle is tested under extreme conditions. Placed on a roller test bed simulating actual running conditions, the vehicle is exposed to electromagnetic fields from antennas generating over 100 V/m at frequencies from 100 kHz to 3 GHz (3). Conversely, the quietness (emissions) test chamber enables the electromagnetic emissions from the vehicle and its electronic equipment to be measured while excluding external radiation.

The EMC unit is a true industrial system whose experts work as part of the EMC team and the Electrical Engineering and Electronic Systems Department (DIESE) at the Renault Technocentre in Guyancourt, France, where Renault also has two test chambers. A team of 30 researchers, engineers and technicians is involved in EMC/RF activities.

The project was undertaken in collaboration with partners specialising in electromagnetic testing, notably TDK (Faraday cages and absorbers) and Satimo (RF cage arch and measuring system).

(3) European regulations specify a resistance of 30 V/m, which is much higher than the values encountered in the traffic environment.

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