Initiative looks to advance UK automotive innovation

A new initiative has been established to advance technology used by cars and increase the UK automotive industry's global competitiveness.

The network, which is being officially launched today by trade body NMI at the University of Warwick, is being backed by some of the country's leading car manufacturers, including Jaguar Land Rover, Lotus, Nissan and McLaren Electronic Systems. According to NMI ceo Derek Boyd, the Automotive Electronic Systems Innovation Network (AESIN) will work in alignment with the UK Automotive Council to provide technology days that showcase innovation, as well as seminars to reduce technical and business model constraints and progress ideas with UK funding support. "One of the key agendas of AESIN is to take a step away from what's currently done and determine the true best practice," said Tim Strafford, business development manager at McLaren Electronic Systems. "The constraints and competition in F1, Indycar and NASCAR have made for an excellent environment for innovation. "One good example comes in the system architecture; from engine control to the electric seats, there are now countless electronic control units in today's road cars, which each add weight, space and cost. In F1, the drive to cut space and weight allowed us optimise the electronic architecture and we now use a single ECU at the heart of the car to control and monitor everything; from torque based engine control with precise fuel injection and ignition timing of an engine rotating at up to 18,000rpm, right through to elementary control of the driver's drink pump." Nissan's Malcolm Holmes added: "The ever increasing use of electronics throughout our vehicles has allowed us to make leaps forward in safety and efficiency. Electric vehicles have become a reality and electronics continue to significantly reduce the CO2 from our vehicles. Working more closely with the key innovators within the UK electronics industry will allow us to steer our product strategy towards our goal of providing innovative and valuable technology to everyone."