CELEBRATING WITH AN STS

As this is the centennial year for SAE, and as the people at General Motors decided that they wanted to do something a bit out of the ordinary to help celebrate that event.

As this is the centennial year for SAE, and as the people at General Motors decided that they wanted to do something a bit out of the ordinary to help celebrate that event. So, beyond throwing in support of various influential sorts to the SAE Congress, the Powers That Are at the automaker brought together some of its top engineers under Al Oppenhesier, director of Concept Vehicles (part of the Performance Div. headed up by Mark Reuss), gave them an '05 STS, and charged them with creating what's called a "technology integration vehicle" with the Cadillac as its platform. Although this is a car created to be blazingly quick—there is an LS2 engine under the 8-kg carbon fiber hood (sourced from Prefix (www.prefix.com), which also provided the carbon fiber low-mass wheelhouses, which are 50% lighter than their metal variants), a 505-hp engine with an Eaton M122 intercooled supercharger (www.eaton.com)—that's not the point of the exercise. (There will be an STS-V for '06 with a supercharged Northstar under the hood—albeit one that produces 440 hp.) Rather, the point was, Oppenheiser explained, to deploy a range of technologies to show the sorts of things that can be used in advanced vehicles. There are 50 different technology differentiators used on the "STS SAE 100," as it's been designated, that were based on work done by GM engineers in concert with 37 supplier companies. The subsystems and the number of technologies deployed in them are:

  • Safety/crashworthiness: 10
  • Powertrain: 6
  • Chassis: 10
  • Electrical: 8
  • Exterior: 8
  • Interior: 5
  • Structure/lighting/glass: 3
  • HVAC: 1

It should be noted that not all of these technologies are "new." Nor are these technologies that aren't, in some cases, already being used on some vehicle applications. For example, the 2004 Commemorative Edition Z06 Corvette has a carbon fiber hood (and the forthcoming '06 Z06 has carbon fiber fenders). Rather, "integration" of a "drivable" vehicle is the objective (we had the opportunity to drive the SAE STS in the Pontiac Silverdome, former home of the Detroit Lions and current venue for things like monster truck events, so we can testify that it moves, but whether it can take advantage of the LS2 remains to be determined).

Here's a thumbnail of the technologies (not already mentioned) that are being used in the vehicle*:

  • Electronic throttle control. This GM-developed unit integrates the throttle actuator control (TAC) module hardware and software into the engine control module, thereby eliminating a standalone TAC.
  • High-output generator. From Denso (www.globaldenso.com). Provides 20% greater output at hot idle.
  • Six-speed automatic transmission. The GM HydraMatic new 6L90E can handle high-horsepower engines (a variant is going in the STS-V).
  • Shift control. Think "sport shift."
  • Oil condition sensor. This GM probe can check the life and amount of oil.
  • Electronic limited slip differential (eLSD). From GKN (www.gkn.com), this eLSD obtains vehicle information via a LAN and permits the modulation of the condition from fully open to locked in a seamless manner, thereby improving performance under all conditions from moving through a parking lot to racing.
  • Multi-link front suspension. From McLaren (www.mclarenperformance.com), the suspension is designed to be suitable for rear- and all-wheel-drive performance-oriented vehicles. It moves the steering rack to a front mount location (SLA suspension setups have it located in a rear position) which provides the necessary understeer while reducing steering gain increases when speeds go up. The multi-link suspension also has two lower links instead of a lower control arm; these links facilitate tuning of the ride and handling bushings.
  • Variable gear ratio steering. This system from Toyoda (www.toydatrw.com) puts a gear differential between the steering wheel and the steering gear, thereby making the steering condition-sensitive. The steering system for the vehicle also deploys Active Front Steer, which deploys an adaptive steering ratio and counter steering for yaw control, especially helpful in reducing braking distances, driving on split-mu surfaces, and in potential rollover situations.
  • Brakes. Ceramic (silicon carbide) rotors front and rear (15-in. diameter and 14-in. diameter, respectively) and with six aluminum calipers in the front and four in the rear. From Brembo (www.brembo.com).
  • Adjustable pedals. GM internal.
  • Magnetic ride control. The Delphi (www.delphi.com) magneto-rheological fluid-based system that is deployed on vehicles including the Corvette.
  • Remote start and keyless access. From Siemens VDO (www.siemensvdo.com).
  • Adaptive cruise control. A radar-based system from Continental Temic (www.conti-online.com) that can adjust the throttle and braking to adjust to traffic conditions. Audible and visual alerts are given to the driver when the system's capabilities are exceeded.
  • Active exhaust valve system. Internal GM development of a vacuum actuated exhaust valve that opens when the engine exceeds 3,500 rpm and the throttle position sensor indicates >85% actuation. This decreases backpressure while generating maximum horsepower. It is closed during partial throttle to reduce noise.
  • Carbon-fiber wheels with magnesium spokes. The two-piece wheels from Dymag (www.dymag.com) feature a carbon fiber rim and a magnesium center; titanium bolts are used for the fasteners. A forged aluminum wheel for the C5 Corvette weighs 20 lb. One of these wheels weighs just 14. Pirelli provides the tires.
  • Reconfigurable color head-up display. The Intier-sourced system (www.intier.com) used in the production STS.
  • 5.1 DVD Surround Sound. The Bose (www.bose.com) system from the production STS.
  • OnStar 6.1.
  • LCD instrument cluster. Instead of conventional gauges, there is a 15 x 6-in. LCD screen that allows the driver to have the look and feel (analog/digital, colors, etc.) desired. Sourced from Promate (www.promate.com).
  • 3D navigation system. From Bosch (www.bosch.com). It uses satellite photos in place of ordinary screen images, so the "real" environment is seen on the nav screen.
  • Rear seat entertainment system. Two Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) Xboxes with DVD packages and 6.5-in. LCD screens (in the headrests) are the basis of the entertainment.
  • Performance data recorder. For those who want to track and record their vehicle's performance on a PC or a PDA. This device from GM Performance Div. works with the integration vehicle—or any other GM vehicle.
  • Beverage heating and cooling. Thermoelectric system from Tellurex fitting in the front console and rear fold-down armrest maintains beverages temperature (cool: ~40°F; hot: ~120°F).
  • High output electroluminescent wire light. How do you know if your cup holders are heating or cooling your beverage? These lights from Robert Miller Electronics, based on excited phosphor crystals, shine red or blue.
  • Heated washer fluid. The Microheat (www.microheat.com) system that heats the fluid to better remove things from ice to bugs on the windshield.
  • Infinite door-check. The DORSTOP system from Stabilus (www.stabilus.com) features a hydraulic check system between the body structure and the inside of the door such that the door will hold open at whatever position the door is opened to.
  • Rain sensing wipers. Sourced from TRW (www.trw.com).
  • Power decklid system and obstacle detection system. Hoerbiger (www.hoerbiger.com) provides the high-pressure hydraulic system that permits the opening and closing of the decklid by fob, button or electronic latch; the obstacle detection touch sensor from Metzeler will signal the control module if an obstacle is detected during closure so that the decklid motion is reversed.
  • Capless refuel system. That's right: no gas cap. This system from ITW (www.itw.com) is based on an electronically activated ball that upon actuation spins to open the fuel pipe. Remove the fuel nozzle and it automatically rotates back in place.
  • Ultrasonic front and rear parking assist. The system from Bosch detects objects that are up to 4 ft in front or 8 ft behind the vehicle. Visual (lights) and audio (chimes) signals advise the driver of distance to the detected objects.
  • Variable-temperature seats. There's thermoelectric heating and cooling (based on a Peltier circuit array) in the front seating. System is from Amerigon (www.amerigon.com).
  • Heated steering wheel. A resistive electrical device heats the leather wrapped wheel. From Delphi.
  • Second row supplemental storage. Stewart Reed Design (www.stewartreeddesign.com) devised additional cargo areas for items ranging in size from a computer bag to a PDA.
  • Platinum interior. Drexelmaier is the source of such things as the leather and olive ash burl wood accents on the instrument panel to the suede fabric seat inserts.
  • LED front lighting. Blue emitting diodes passed through a phosphorescent film results in white light on this Visteon (www.visteon.com) system. Includes high and low beams, as well as daytime running lamps.
  • Theft deterrent glass. The laminated side glass (polyvinyl butyral between two layers of glass) is provided by Saint Gobain Sekurit USA (www.saintgobain-sekurit.com).
  • Supplemental rapid passenger compartment heating. The Liquid Heat Generator from Ventech (www.ventechlhg.com) is mounted on the engine block as a belt-driven accessory. The mechanical energy it draws is converted into heat in the coolant at about 98% efficiency.
  • Side blind zone alert. Valeo (www.valeo.com) system is based on radar sensors mounted in the corners of the rear bumper. If there is a vehicle in the driver's blind spot, an amber light in the left side view mirror is illuminated.
  • Crash alert seat; massage passenger seat. There are haptic elements in the driver's seat that cause the seat to vibrate as a result of input from the lane departure system (see next item), on either the left or right side (depending on the direction of the deviation). The passenger's seat makes use of the vibrations—for a massage. Supplied by InSeat (www.inseat.com).
  • Lane departure warning system. A camera is mounted near the inside rear view mirror. It looks ahead. When the vehicle goes at least 35 mph, a real-time system processes the captured video images and determines such things as road markers. If, for example, the driver changes lanes without using the turn signal, a visual cue is displayed and a haptic device in the driver's seat is activated. From Mobileye (www.mobileye.com).
  • Rear vision camera system. Panasonic (www.panasonic.com) system is mounted on the centerline of the license pocket area. When the car is put in reverse, its power is activated. Provides a 131° horizontal and 96° vertical image on the nav screen.
  • Roll-over airbag. Internal GM development. Located on the roof side rail metal beneath the trim. Can be activated for either rollovers or side impacts.
  • Seat-mounted thorax/pelvis airbags. For both the front and rear. GM development.
  • Dual-depth front passenger airbag. Depth is determined by factors including seat position, seat belt status, and crash severity. From Delphi.
  • Rear seatbelt engagement notification. If a belted rear passenger unfastens the seat belt when the car is in motion, the Takata (www.takata.com) system signals the driver through a message on the IP.
  • Inside rear view mirror with embedded organic LED (OLED) screen. Although the OLED screen in the rear view mirror is just 1 in. in size, the fidelity of the image of either the rear seat or from the backup camera is remarkable. Supplied by Daewoo Electronics (www.daewoo.com).
  • All in all, quite an impressive way to mark 100 years of SAE.—GSV

*Thanks to Andrew Krenz, design/engineering lead, STS SAE 100