Faster than the fire department - Embedded Linux for fire engines
Embedded Linux in fire engines
Rosenbauer International AG from Leonding, Upper Austria is the first address when it comes to innovative fire fighting technology for worldwide use. When the Group was looking for a new generation of operating system for the cockpit of its firefighting vehicles, it came to cooperate with Ginzinger electronic systems.
It is one of the most successful and efficient airport firefighting vehicles in the world. Its powerful performance and multiple award-winning design make it the most advanced firefighting vehicle of our time. Features such as a panoramic cab, a firefighting arm that can be extended to 20 meters, and two 750-horsepower engines that accelerate 52 tons of vehicle to 80 mph in less than 25 seconds make firefighting enthusiasts young and old go into raptures. We are talking about the Panther. The Panther is the epitome of the modern fire truck that "plays all the pieces".
For quick and easy operation of all functions in and on the modern fire truck such as the Panther, intuitive operating systems with buttons, touch and graphic screen are used in the cockpit. Whether pump, foam proportioning system, water cannon, light mast or generator, all functions can be controlled via these.
Deedle deedle deedle - the new operating system for fire engines is here!
For a new generation of operating unit, Rosenbauer set out at the end of 2015 to find an integrated controller platform. There was to be a 7" and a 10" variant of the Rosenbauer operating system "RBC LCS" with a high-resolution display. After a lengthy evaluation, Rosenbauer decided on a customized embedded system from Ginzinger electronic systems.The combination of a stable hardware platform, proven in the market but adaptable, with an open source operating system and its own software distribution, coupled with in-house electronics production, convinced Rosenbauer.
On your mark, get set, fire, ... go!
The requirements for the finished operating system were extensive: A robust and universal operating system was required for use in the fire engine, which is used worldwide in harsh ambient temperatures from -30 degrees to +65 degrees. Demanding standards (for tightness, shock and vibration) had to be met.
The hardware had to provide high processing power for the application. Graphical screen, touch screen and dynamic animations, as well as multiple video streams from cameras on the vehicle had to be handled without problems. When there is a fire, a fire truck must be immediately ready for action. Fast start-up within five seconds and standby operation with the ignition off were other crisp requirements. The operating system must have a scratch-resistant, brilliant touch display that can be operated without any problems, even outdoors in all weathers and while wearing firefighters' gloves. Around the touch display, up to twenty illuminated pushbuttons provide modular, individually configurable operation of lighting, signaling systems, built-in modules, and many other functions.
For the hardware interfaces, several independent CAN interfaces, analog and digital camera inputs, LAN and USB were required. For Rosenbauer, it was important that the software for the RBC LCS be completely open. This ensures that Rosenbauer will be able to maintain and service the complete system in the future. Furthermore, it must be possible to use the existing Rosenbauer software framework on the device.
The concrete development work started in October 2016. An embedded system with an i.mx6 dual-core processor was implemented in an automotive variant as the hardware basis. The computing unit was equipped with 2GByte RAM, 1GByte FLASH and 64GByte eMMC FLASH. By using GELin, the Ginzinger Embedded Linux software distribution, Rosenbauer and its partners were quickly able to port their own software components to the new system. GELin is robust and has been successfully used in hundreds of thousands of devices for more than ten years.
DI Stefan Schöfegger
DI Stefan Schöfegger, Head of Development at Ginzinger electronic systems: "With GELin, Ginzinger provides the necessary "underpinning". The ongoing maintenance & support, further development and long-term availability are taken over by Ginzinger electronic systems. The customer can thus fully concentrate on his application development", explains Schöfegger. The application software for the fire truck operating system is based on the robust Rosenbauer software framework that has proven itself over many years. Firmware, configuration via CAN, and all updates are carried out using RST, the Rosenbauer Service Tool already in use.
Where things got dicey - challenges in development
At the start of development, the critical components were selected. "Particular attention was paid to the display, which is the central element of the operating system. Many different display suppliers were evaluated in detail in the first step," Schöfegger knows. One of the biggest challenges for the development of the operating system turned out to be the selection of a suitable display. The selection process was very extensive and detailed, with several rounds of testing and selection at Rosenbauer.
The high environmental demands on the display and the requirements for brightness, contrast, operability with gloves, and long-term availability quickly narrowed down the selection of possible suppliers. The display must also always be optimally readable in the fire truck from all sides, even in the brightest sunlight at a viewing angle of up to 85°. Automatic and manual day/night switching, a minimum resolution of 1280x800 and brightness of 1000 cd/m2 were prerequisites. In the course of the project, a further requirement was that the display must also be easily readable with polarized sunglasses.
In the course of extensive research, it was decided that only one display variant with 10" would be developed. This proved to be more practicable in terms of usability, clarity, cost-effectiveness and reduction of the number of variants.
In accordance with the Ginzinger slogan "Converting Challenges into Solutions", a suitable manufacturer was found after an intensive search, who now supplies the display in a customer-specific variant with an extended temperature range. The many years of know-how in the development of graphic operating systems turned out to be a great advantage in the search for a robust display for this unusual application.
In addition to selecting the appropriate display, there were other challenges to overcome. "An approval process at the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) had to be initiated in parallel with the development for the operating system, which was designed in accordance with Performance Level C as per EN ISO 13849," explains Stefan Schöfegger.
"Every component in the firefighting vehicle must be approved according to the ECE R10 directive. Without this approval, customers cannot install the control unit in their vehicles," says Schöfegger. The evaluation process at the KBA is currently being completed. Following an initial assessment procedure, Ginzinger electronic systems was certified as of September 1, 2020, and production conformity was demonstrated.
"Fire and flame" for the future
Development of the Rosenbauer RBC LCS operating system with a high-resolution10" display will be completed by the end of 2020. In the future, it will be available in series production in all Rosenbauer vehicles.
"The operating system's area of application is diverse due to its simple installation option. All functions in the cockpit, from the instrument cluster, to the control of the blue light and the entire lighting during the operation, to the camera systems for turntable ladder cage or reversing, can be controlled via it. The operating system can also be used directly in the turntable ladder cage, explains Severin Wiesmüller, Global Product Manager HMI & Electronics at Rosenbauer.
In addition to the operating system, Ginzinger electronic systems is already implementing two other projects for Rosenbauer International AG. In the Revolutionary Technology (RT), the first hybrid fire fighting vehicle, a 17" display variant of the MMI is used. It was possible to continue using the components of the 10" system with only a few adjustments. New requirements, such as increased memory capacity for FLASH and RAM, were then also subsequently incorporated into the 10" variant. In this way, it was possible to further reduce the number of variants in the electronics.
In the "2-button panel" project, two universally applicable CAN bus pushbuttons were developed for Rosenbauer. These can be flexibly mounted at many positions on the inside and outside of the fire truck and individually programmed. The pushbuttons are used, for example, to control the electric shutters, or to operate the supports on the turntable ladder.
Rosenbauer RT Fahrzeug
About Rosenbauer International AG
Rosenbauer is an internationally active Group and a reliable partner to fire departments around the world. The company develops and produces vehicles, firefighting technology, equipment and digital solutions for professional, company, works and volunteer fire departments, as well as systems for preventive fire protection. Rosenbauer is represented in around 120 countries with a sales and service network. www.rosenbauer.com/de/at/world