Status of the project

ESCAPE lasts three years, from autumn 2016 to autumn 2019. During its lifetime, the project encounters seven milestones, highlighted in blue in the following figure. Intermediate project achievements between milestones are reported as yellow elements.

 

Critical Design Review

The GMV premises in Madrid will host the Critical Design Review of the project at the end of October 2018 (29-30/10). The meeting is intended to review all the design aspects of the EGE platform, to consequently identify the consolidated architecture and initiate the validation phase.


Second integration week

The second session of integration activities is planned for mid-October 2018 at the UTC labs. The integration tests will encompass new releases of the algorithms and middleware software, as well as the use of a new camera model, the one used in the final platform. Beyond the functional tests, the engineers expect to complement and complete the performance results obtained so far.


First integration week

In the second week of July 2018 the Technical team of the ESCAPE Consortium met in the labs of the University of Technology of Compiègne, France, where a test vehicle was equipped for the first time with the ESCAPE GNSS Engine. The vehicle enabled a full suite of tests of the HW and SW interfaces, which generated a fruitful activity of troubleshooting along the summer.

First sample of the HW prototype released and presented to the public (February 2018)

The first sample of the ESCAPE hardware board was released in February 2018 and made its public debut at the Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona, at the STM’s booth. The FICOSA’s manufacturing integrated all the HW components, namely the STM’s GNSS receiver chipset, inertial measurements unit and main processor, as well as all the peripherals necessary for the communications of the board. SW programming with GMV’s positioning and integrity algorithms is under development.


GNSS receiver prototype #1: First samples of the GNSS receiver available for integration tests (December 2017)

In the second week of December 2017, in line with the time schedule of the project, samples of the first silicon cut of the GNSS receiver were shipped from the ST premises in Milan (IT) to the FICOSA premises in Barcelona (ES). These samples undergo the first session of hardware integration tests.

Meanwhile, the first silicon cut is under validation in ST, in order to identify the refinements to be introduced for the final production silicon.


Preliminary Design Review (14-15 November 2017)

At the end of the first year of activities, the ESCAPE team has consolidated the preliminary design of the algorithms, of the GNSS receiver architecture and of the EGE hardware and software architectures, as well as the safety analysis of these components. The project enters now in its second year, where a plan of integration steps and tests is foreseen.

An overview of the project status at the PDR is available here.

 

Hardware and Software Preliminary Architecture (October 2017)

The ESCAPE GNSS Engine (EGE) is an electronic board whose main objective is to process GNSS measurements, complement with other location data from IMU, vehicle odometry, camera, and finally provide precise positioning, with the associated integrity information. The main functionality of the EGE is complemented by a set of connectivity features such as Ethernet links and cellular communications.

The preliminary architecture of the EGE hardware and software components has been specified in October 2017 in a dedicated document.

The EGE hardware is an electronic circuit board that provides interfaces and modules for automotive positioning system features. It is designed with a modular architecture composed by:

  • A Main Board designed to provide access to the features supported by the EGE.
  • A Core Module that implements the processing core of the EGE.

The whole architecture of the EGE-HW has been conceived based on the current practices in the design of automotive ECUs. This means that the configuration and size of the different modules is according the sector trends.

The EGE software architecture comprises three differentiated layers showed in the figure below:

  1. Algorithm Facility: this is the application layer, i.e., the software in charge of computing the pose estimations and protection levels;
  2. Middleware: this layer mainly acts as an interface between the Algorithm Facility and the interfaces to vehicle, in order to obtain the vehicle measurements and to output the computed estimates;
  3. Board Support Package: this part of the software is responsible of managing HW-specific drivers and OS resources that make the EGE hardware to be functional.

Finally, the preliminary architecture of the multi-band GNSS receiver developed by ST has been defined.  It is based on a two-chip approach:

  • the main chip, hosting a first configurable RF chain for L1 signal ensemble and the baseband part for processing all the signals in the served bands, L1, L2, L5, E5a/b, E6 and L band;
  • the secondary chip, which is a RF front-end configurable for receiving the other served bands (e.g. GPS L2 or L5, Galileo E5a, or E5b, or E6, etc.).

The main capability of this architecture is to process at the same time signals from two different bands and from different constellations.

The main features introduced (or enhanced) in the new GNSS receiver for ESCAPE will be:

  1. Multi-constellation and multi-band/multi-frequency processing Support of Galileo OS NMA
  2. GNSS signal processing enhancements (multipath mitigation, receiver sensitivity, better tracking capability, more IF channels andflexibility in routing IF samples, jamming detection and mitigation, optimization of the GNSS data flow).

 

Algorithm Definition and Safety Analysis (September 2017)

At the end of the first year, the definition of the algorithms governing the ESCAPE GNSS Engine (EGE) is concluded and the safety analysis related to them is available.

The algorithm definition has completely specified the fundamental functional blocks of the EGE, namely:

  • Initialization and configuration manager;
  • GNSS receiver + sensors manager;
  • Standard point positioning;
  • Precise point positioning;
  • Camera-based positioning;
  • Camera-based positioning integrity;
  • Consistency checks;
  • Protection level computation;
  • Algorithms related to the Autonomous Driving Commuter Car (ADCC).

All the algorithms have been developed by GMV, excluded the ADCC related algorithm developed by Renault in collaboration with the Université de Technologie de Compiègne.


Status at Month 9 (end of July 2017)

ESCAPE has produced by Month 3 a complete set of system user requirements (see section below) for the ESCAPE GNSS Engine (EGE).

Derived from these user requirements, the preliminary hardware and software architecture (see section below) for the EGE has been completed and is ready to be fine-tuned in the next months. This completes the Definition Phase of ESCAPE project.

The Algorithms Detailed Definition phase, including the information on how sensing information is accounted in the algorithms, is ongoing and it will be released during the next quarter.

In the meantime, the algorithmic developments are progressing in parallel, pending shortly to start integrating the software into the first available development platform. The HW integration in an early phase is key to perform an analytic performance check and potentially optimize both HW and SW aspects of the platform.

 

Preliminary Algorithm Architecture

On April 2017 the preliminary structure of the algorithms governing the ESCAPE Engine has been released.                                                                                                                      The ESCAPE GNSS Engine, also indicated as EGE, is the innovative system developed as part of the ESCAPE project to provide pose estimates with an integrity layer, tailored to Renault’s autonomous driving vehicle.

 

The preliminary algorithm structure, represented in the figure above, has defined:

    • the functional elements that make the core EGE algorithms;
    • how these algorithms interact with other external elements;
    • the content of the data flows exchanged between them;

the traceability of the user requirements onto the EGE elements.

In parallel, also the safety analysis of the algorithms has been elaborated, as these are critical components for the intelligent vehicles.

The preliminary algorithm architecture is the first of three intermediate steps bringing the project to the Preliminary Design Review; the incoming ones are:

  • the preliminary hardware architecture, and
  • the preliminary software architecture.

User Requirements Review

At the User Requirement Review (URR), completed in February 2017, the project has concluded two fundamental tasks:

  • the identification of the user-level requirements, and
  • the user-level safety analysis.

Their importance is in the fact that a major element that influences the design of the positioning engine is  the level of automation expected from the vehicle.  To translate this concept in an effective approach, the user-level expectations have been mapped in five major use cases, for which several test paths have been identified where algorithms and functionalities will be tested.  This approach guarantees that the design proceeds under an effective user needs-driven perspective, so as to end up with a close to market architecture that enables road vehicle automation.

Kick-Off Meeting

On November 10th, 2016, the ESCAPE project kicked-off in Prague, Czech Republic, in the European GNSS Agency premises.

The future of the autonomous driving is “made-in-Europe”! European Safety Critical Applications Positioning Engine – ESCAPE project has kicked-off at the European GNSS Agency (GSA) premises in Prague. ESCAPE is a three-year and 5.4 M€ project aiming to exploit the services offered by Galileo, the European satellite navigation system, in the field of the automated driving. ESCAPE will coordinate some of the most relevant industrial and research institutions in Europe to create a positioning engine for safety-critical applications on the road, namely- the applications involving highly automated driving. All the members of the ESCAPE’s consortium participated to the KO meeting, collaborating to the successful launch of the project.

Status of the project

ESCAPE will last three years, from autumn 2016 to autumn 2019. During its lifetime, the project will encounter some major milestones, summarized in the following figure.

Kick-Off Meeting

On November 10th, 2016, the ESCAPE project kicked-off in Prague, Czech Republic, in the European GNSS Agency premises.

The future of the autonomous driving is “made-in-Europe”! European Safety Critical Applications Positioning Engine – ESCAPE project has kicked-off at the European GNSS Agency (GSA) premises in Prague. ESCAPE is a three-year and 5.4 M€ project aiming to exploit the services offered by Galileo, the European satellite navigation system, in the field of the automated driving. ESCAPE will coordinate some of the most relevant industrial and research institutions in Europe to create a positioning engine for safety-critical applications on the road, namely- the applications involving highly automated driving. All the members of the ESCAPE’s consortium participated to the KO meeting, collaborating to the successful launch of the project.

User Requirements Review

At the User Requirement Review (URR), completed in February 2017, the project has concluded two fundamental tasks:

  • the identification of the user-level requirements, and
  • the user-level safety analysis.

Their importance is in the fact that a major element that influences the design of the positioning engine is  the level of automation expected from the vehicle.  To translate this concept in an effective approach, the user-level expectations have been mapped in five major use cases, for which several test paths have been identified where algorithms and functionalities will be tested.  This approach guarantees that the design proceeds under an effective user needs-driven perspective, so as to end up with a close to market architecture that enables road vehicle automation.

The ESCAPE Project is funded by the European GNSS Agency (GSA) under the European Union’s Fundamental Elements research and development programme under grant agreement No.GSA/GRANT/02/2015

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