Photo credit: Bugatti
Matt surface, adhesive strips, scratches and slight wounds. Witness to a hard everyday life. This Bugatti Chiron1 was never spared. For more than eight years, this vehicle served as a work device, as a tool, to develop the Chiron to series production. And that on and in different continents and climate zones. The 4-005, as it is known internally, is the first Chiron in the USA, drifts in the snow in Scandinavia, does its laps on the high-speed oval in Nardo, passes heat tests in South Africa and endures the afterburner of a Eurofighter Typhoon . The hyper sports car serves as a rolling test laboratory for the electrics and electronics development department, is updated to the last and not spared.
Bugatti Chiron 4-005
As a rule, test engineers develop a prototype for a specific task, test their systems until shortly after the start of production - then the vehicle is devalued. Not so with the "Vierfünf". The four stands for prototype and the five for the fifth prototype of the Chiron. A total of eight prototypes are created, each built by hand with many specially made parts. Starting in 4, the entire software for the Chiron will be developed and tested in 005-2013. In other words: After a change, around 30 control units in the vehicle all go through a specific test procedure - first on the test bench and then in the vehicle. In addition, the engineers check the condition and thus the quality in the event of changes.
Rüdiger Warda has been developing Bugatti vehicles for almost 20 years, and at the Chiron he is responsible for the infotainment and audio systems. “We carried out all tests with the 4-005, were on the road for many weeks, and that connects. The prototype shaped our work and with it we shaped the Chiron, ”he explains. 13 Engineers, computer scientists and physicists work with the vehicle and look after it like their own car - although it is “only” a tool for their work. Each developer looks after a special component, but also knows the properties of the entire system. At the 4-005, the department installed the “Welcome Light Staging”, in which the indicators, headlights and taillights light up in a specific order. The greeting with “Chiron” when opening the doors is also created for the first time in the prototype.
Business trips across the USA
In the early days before the Chiron was launched on the market in 2016, a protective tarpaulin protects against prying eyes and paparazzi. The team drives across the USA and half of Europe to control and coordinate all systems. Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Granada or Großglockner: Maps and navigation must work perfectly in all countries, as well as satellite, antenna, radio and telephone reception. The experts check how the telemetry data behaves when the car drives through different radio networks or without a network. During heat tests in the desert, they pay attention to cold currents, response behavior and noises from the air conditioning system. "Many areas can be simulated, but the final coordination takes place on the street for weeks," explains Rüdiger Warda. The 4-005 also goes through all updates before they go into series production. These include new functions of the navigation system or a conference call as well as the menu navigation of the HMI with a strict design specification: A minimalist interior, without large displays, should provide all information, controllable from the steering wheel.
“Developing a mixture of pure driving machine and comfortable, intuitive operation was a challenge. At Bugatti, driving is an experience, the menu navigation should only support it, ”says Rüdiger Warda. For example, you can choose a black background with blue symbols and white text for the map display. When the speedkey is activated, the infotainment system switches off completely. At over 400 km / h, the driver does not need any distraction, but rather full concentration for the journey.
Mark Schröder, has been developing the Human Machine Interface (HMI) for the Chiron and thus also the menu navigation since 2011. “We want to provide the driver with a lot of information and process it in a logical and elegant way. To do this, it must be intuitive to use,” explains Schröder. In order to present a timeless, reduced and elegant design, Bugatti opted for a central speed display, positioned next to it high-resolution 6-inch displays. The four round controls for the air conditioning in the center console have a second display level. “During test drives, we discovered that it is important for the passenger to receive vehicle information. We can play them out on the displays. ”In addition, 30 menus are available in six main menus in the infotainment system, depending on the country configuration. In addition to the function, Bugatti pays attention to comfortable pressure points and a precise calculation of forces. Buttons, switches and controls also feel very high quality. Since then, all controls have been balanced and require exactly the same torque when adjusting, as do the controls on the steering wheel.
When Mark Schröder found it difficult to see the text in the menu navigation during a test drive in Arizona / USA, he immediately considered a solution: As with an e-ink display of an e-book reader, the changes via a signal from the sun sensor The display background changes from black to white, the text from white to black. "We discover many detailed solutions on trips, then discuss them in the team and implement them, first in 4-005," explains Mark Schröder. Even the font and font size, the arrangement of the menus or additional items are checked again and again during journeys. The complete sound tuning also takes place for the first time in the 4-005. Hi-fi experts spend days working on the perfect sound with different tones and pieces of music, and in the end they decide on four tweeters with a 1-carat diamond membrane, two woofers and mid-range speakers and two subwoofers. They attach great importance to the sound of the music, but also the reproduction of phone calls - with different materials in the interior.
Every trip is something special
Even if it is a work device, every journey with the Chiron is something special. “Despite the immense performance, we drove up to ten hours straight - and got out of the car fit in the evening,” says Norbert Uffmann, who is responsible for telemetry and networking at Bugatti. The many beautiful moments with the vehicle as well as the reactions of other road users remain positive memories. Regardless of whether you are a car driver, cyclist or pedestrian, the Chiron generates joy and enthusiasm. Even strict US police officers are interested in the hyper sports car, ask questions and pose for photos. The engineers update hardware and software several times, always keeping the prototype technically up to date. In doing so, they also check the quality and functions of the components that would otherwise not be touched for the life of the car, such as plug connections or control units. The result: Even after eight years and over 74.000 kilometers of mileage, mind you in tough use, the electronics are almost wear-free. The prototype is now being retired. Earned. After all that hard work.
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Bugatti Chiron 4-005 - A very unusual prototype!
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