In part two of a three-part series on FF 91’s development, we take you behind-the-scenes for an exclusive look at Faraday Future’s electrical design and the critical role wire harnesses plays in manufacturing vehicles.
Automotive Smart Computer Technology
Vehicles of present have become increasingly complex and controlled by a sophisticated network of wires, sensors, and computers- all designed to work in unison. It should come as no surprise that most modern cars are like a supercomputer on wheels -running an amazing amount of computing power such as Android, Linux, or other operating systems.
One of the biggest challenges auto manufacturers face in dealing with the adoption of electrified vehicles isn’t the motor(s) or drivetrain—it’s wiring. That’s because electrical systems will need to handle data quickly and reliably with the ability to deliver commands to high-performance computers. Those computers process and transmit signals to a slew of components including vehicle steering, regenerative brakes, advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) and other cutting-edge self-driving innovations based on LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and RADAR (Radio Detection and Ranging) technology.
What’s a Wiring Harness and Why is it Important?
Electrical power and information travel through a network of wires much like the circulatory and central nervous systems of the human body. Wiring harnesses are an interconnected set of wires and connectors that run throughout the vehicle to transmit electrical power and signals. The automotive market has been facing customer demands for added vehicle safety, connectivity, and infotainment- all of which requires additional modules and circuits, resulting in wire harness designs that has become ever more complex.
“The days are long gone when wire inspections are left to chance” says Lab Car & EE Vehicle Integration Lead, Rami Tarabay. “Your process is only as good as the measurements you take and the evaluations you make.” According to Tarabay, the wire harness interacts with every electrical component in the vehicle. And because the harness is impacted by every design change, the requirements to achieve final validation is a lengthy process.
Lab Car is a BIW (body-in-white) that houses every electrical component with the exception of the power inverter and high voltage system. “If a specific supplier’s part or electronic module has undergone a change or modification, it’s our job to validate the module(s) functions from both a hardware and software perspective using our Lab Cars before installing it into our pre-production vehicle,” says Tarabay.
FF has two Lab Cars to perform various changes to meet requirements of access, serviceability, and design before going through a troubleshooting process. Once testing has concluded, FF Lab Car engineers send a final report to our harness suppliers or design team to address any issues that arise.
Vehicle Wiring and Harness Validation
Verifying the vehicle’s Electrical System isn’t simply about checking power current from terminals A to B. Lab Car engineers use a process called EE (Electrical Engineering) Bread- boarding. Bread-boarding allows FF engineers to position the prototype harnesses on a table inside our Hanford manufacturing plant and commence a full wiring harness inspection, including checking for low voltage power and ground signals and CAN (Controller Area Network) resistance issues on each of their respected networks. Something as simple as wiring that was pinned incorrectly will cause part(s) to not work correctly.
“It’s both time and cost effective for FF to validate electrical and software revisions in our Lab Car rather than making changes to a completed vehicle with all the interior and exterior components already installed. If any fault is reported, we rectify the issue through manual testing. This allows us to carefully determine the cause and effect and ultimately find a solution,” says Tarabay.
Access to two Lab Cars allows engineers to toggle back-and-forth between vehicles rather than relying on just one. This creates a robust way to check wiring components while double checking performed work using one vehicle or the other. Lab Car offers the ability to perform integration and testing of complex wiring harnesses and Electronic Control Units (ECU).
FF engineers are performing a full inspection and testing of our first five wire harnesses. Should all the required tests pass the team’s requirements without issues, the next stage consists of sending the harnesses to our harness supplier to begin mass production.
“The progress we’ve made in developing the harness and electrical components for FF 91 has been incredible,” states Tarabay. “As a company, we continue to push the boundaries to fulfill our goal: Deliver a ‘New Species’ that brings user confidence, luxury, and the most connected car ever.”
Up to this point of the manufacturing and assembly process, FF team members have worked meticulously to complete the chassis structure. Now begins the next stages to fill the vehicle with a unique combination of components, options, and luxuries that will make FF 91 as distinctive as its owner.