Freescale & McLaren Electronic Systems Develop Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems For Regenerative-Braking In Race Cars

November 17, 2008 by Jeff Shepard

Freescale Semiconductor and McLaren Electronic Systems (MES) have announced a collaborative initiative to develop next-generation kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) technology for the highest levels of motor racing from 2010 onward.

Freescale’s and MES’s KERS technology collaboration is said to address the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile’s (FIA, the governing body of world motorsport) commitment to reduce development costs, enhance competition, and support ever-growing fuel efficiency and energy recovery initiatives in the next generation of Formula 1 powertrains. Smaller, lighter and more efficient hybrid systems are expected to result from these initiatives.

KERS is a hybrid regenerative braking system that is designed to recover kinetic energy from the car during braking, store that energy and make it available upon demand from the driver to accelerate the car. The stored kinetic power is released using a "boost" button that delivers a burst of extra power to the car for a short period – for example, while overtaking a competitor or defending a position. It is stated that performance-enhancing technologies such as KERS will almost certainly enhance the competitiveness and excitement of Formula 1 racing events.

"This joint KERS development project with McLaren Electronic Systems is on the cutting edge of automotive technology," said Steve Wainwright, Vice-President, Sales and Marketing and General Manager, Freescale EMEA. "As the leading supplier of automotive semiconductors, Freescale can help MES make a difference in their quest for advanced powertrain control technology and energy-efficient systems. Formula 1 is one of the most exciting and fastest moving laboratories for automotive technology. We will work hard to help ensure that the technologies developed in concert with MES will rapidly find their way into mainstream cars to the benefit of consumers and our automotive customers eager to receive energy-efficient solutions."

"We are excited to be working with Freescale who we know, from our many years of experience with their products, to be a world-class silicon supplier," said Dr. Peter van Manen, Managing Director of McLaren Electronic Systems. "We are optimistic that, together, we will produce a system that will offer the best performance, efficiency and reliability that is demanded in the highest forms of motor racing."

MES states that it will bring to the partnership its unmatched experience in electronic control unit (ECU) development and motor racing requirements, while Freescale will share its considerable motor control, microcontroller and power system design expertise. Freescale engineers have already joined MES at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, England, to start developing intelligent monitoring and control technology for the KERS motor/generator subsystem. The two companies also plan to develop solutions for monitoring and controlling the battery subsystem used to store the kinetic energy.

A key target of the joint project is to significantly increase efficiency over existing and emerging KERS technologies. In addition, the partners plan to use the automotive-qualified Freescale eTPU libraries within the KERS system to control the generator/motor. MES already uses Freescale products and technology in a number of its control units and sensors and is familiar with developing systems containing these semiconductors.