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Title:
A METHOD, PERFORMED BY A FIRST CONTROL DEVICE, FOR PHYSICALLY CONNECTING AT LEAST ONE DRIVE MODULE AND A FUNCTIONAL MODULE TO ASSEMBLE A VEHICLE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/040686
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention relates to a method, performed by a first control device (100), for physically connecting at least one drive module (30) and a functional module (40) to assemble a vehicle (1). The drive module (30) comprises a pair of wheels (32) and is configured to be autonomously operated and drive the assembled vehicle (1). The functional module (40) comprises at least one connecting means (14) adapted for physically connecting the functional module (40) to the drive module (30), a protection panel (10), which is configured to cover and expose the connecting means (14) and the first control device (100), the method comprising controlling (s101) the protection panel (10) from the covering position to the exposing position, controlling (s102) the connecting means (14) to physically connect the modules (30, 40) and controlling (s103) the protection panel (10) from the exposing position to the covering position. The invention also relates to a computer program, a computer-readable medium, a functional module (40) and a vehicle (1).

Inventors:
CLAESSON ANDRÉ (SE)
BEDELL MICHAEL (SE)
SJÖDIN ROBERT (SE)
ÄHRLIG LINUS (SE)
Application Number:
SE2019/050764
Publication Date:
February 27, 2020
Filing Date:
August 20, 2019
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
SCANIA CV AB (SE)
International Classes:
B62D63/02; B60J9/00; B60J11/00; B60D1/60; B60P3/42
Foreign References:
US20170203801A12017-07-20
US20100044998A12010-02-25
US20070012496A12007-01-18
US20040035617A12004-02-26
US20130240274A12013-09-19
US20030164255A12003-09-04
US20180186274A12018-07-05
DE202015100939U12015-03-16
US20180022405A12018-01-25
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
AHLING, Annika (SE)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A method, performed by a first control device (100), for physically connecting at least one drive module (30) and a functional module (40) to assemble a vehicle (1 ), wherein the drive module (30) comprises:

a pair of wheels (32) and is configured to be autonomously operated and drive the assembled vehicle (1 );

wherein the functional module (40) comprises:

at least one connecting means (14) adapted for physically connecting the func- tional module (40) to the drive module (30);

a protection panel (10), which is configured to cover and expose the connecting means (14); and

the first control device (100),

the method comprising:

controlling (s101 ) the protection panel (10) from the covering position to the exposing position;

controlling (s102) the connecting means (14) to physically connect the modules (30, 40); and

controlling (s103) the protection panel (10) from the exposing position to the covering position.

2. The method according to claim 1 , wherein controlling (s101 ) the protection panel (10) from the covering position to the exposing position is performed in a vertical direc- tion of the functional module (40). 3. The method according to claim 1 , wherein controlling (s101 ) the protection panel

(10) from the covering position to the exposing position is performed in a horizontal direction of the functional module (40).

4. The method according to claim 1 , wherein controlling (s101 ) the protection panel (10) from the covering position to the exposing position is performed by pivoting the protection panel (10).

5. The method according to any one of claims 1 - 4, wherein controlling (s101 ) the protection panel (10) from the covering position to the exposing position is performed by an actuator (12). 6. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein method corn- prises the further step of:

instructing (s104) the at least one drive module (30) to move to the at least one connecting means arranged on the functional module (40) before physically connecting the modules (30, 40).

7. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein controlling the connecting means to physically connect the modules (30, 40) is performed by a phys- ical interface (14). 8. A computer program (P) comprising instructions which, when the program is exe- cuted by a computer (100; 500), cause the computer (100; 500) to carry out the method according to any one of the preceding claims.

9. A computer-readable medium comprising instructions, which when executed by a computer (100; 500), cause the computer (100; 500) to carry out the method according to any one of claims 1 -7.

10. A functional module (40) for a vehicle (1 ), wherein the functional module (40) is adapted to be releasably connected to a drive module (30) for forming an assembled vehicle (1 ), the drive module (30) comprises a pair of wheels (32) and is configured to be autonomously operated and drive the assembled vehicle, the functional module (40) comprising:

at least one connecting means (14) adapted for physically connecting the func- tional module (40) to the drive module (30);

a protection panel (10), which is configured to cover and expose the connecting means (14); and

a first control device (100),

wherein the first control device (100) being configured to:

control the protection panel (10) from the covering position to the exposing position; control the connecting means (14) to physically connect the modules (30, 40); and control the protection panel (10) from the exposing position to the covering position.

11. The functional module (40) according to claim 10, wherein the first control device (100) is configured to control the protection panel (10) from the covering position to the exposing position in a vertical direction of the functional module (40).

12. The functional module (40) according to claim 11 , wherein the first control device (100) is configured to control the protection panel (10) from the covering position to the exposing position in a horizontal direction of the functional module (40).

13. The functional module (40) according to claim 11 , wherein the first control device (100) is configured to control the protection panel (10) from the covering position to the exposing position by pivoting the protection panel (10).

14. The functional module (40) according to any one of claims 10 - 13, wherein the first control device (100) is configured to control the protection panel (10) from the covering position to the exposing position by an actuator (12). 15. The functional module (40) according to any one of the claims 10 - 14, wherein the first control device (100) is configured to:

instruct the at least one drive module (30) to move to the at least one connecting means (14) arranged on the functional module (40) before the connecting means (14) is controlled to physically connect the modules (30, 40).

16. The functional module (40) according to any one of the claims 10 - 15, wherein the first control device (100) is configured to control the connecting means (14) to physi- cally connect the modules (30, 40) by a physical interface (14). 17. A vehicle (1 ) assembled from a set of modules (30, 40), wherein the vehicle (1 ) comprises at least one functional module (40) according to any one of claims 10 - 16.

Description:
A method, performed by a first control device, for physically connecting at least one drive module and a functional module to assemble a vehicle. TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention relates to a method, performed by a first control device, for physically connecting at least one drive module and a functional module to assemble a vehicle. The invention further relates to a computer program, a computer-readable medium, a functional module for a vehicle and a vehicle according to the appended claims.

BACKGROUND

Vehicles of today are typically manufactured for a specific purpose, e.g. a bus is man- ufactured for transporting people and a truck is manufactured for transporting goods. Such vehicles are typically manufactured and completely assembled in a factory or they may be partly assembled in a factory and completed at a body manufacturer. Once the vehicle is assembled, the vehicle may be used for the specific purpose. Thus, a bus may be used as a bus and a garbage truck may be used as a garbage truck. Different vehicles are thus needed for different purposes, which may require a large fleet of vehicles and which may be very costly. It may therefore be desired to be able to customize a vehicle depending on different missions.

There are, for example, known solutions where a truck can be rebuilt by changing a concrete mixer to a loading platform. This increases the flexibility and two different functions can be achieved by means of one single vehicle. Also, document US- 2016/0129958 A discloses a modular electric vehicle using interchangeable vehicle assembly modules. The user can thereby disassemble and reassemble the vehicle for use in different applications. Disassembling and reassembling such a vehicle would, however, be a very cumbersome and time consuming work. Furthermore, when a fail ure occurs in one of the known vehicle modules it may be difficult to replace the failing module, which may result in that the vehicle may be unusable for a considerable period of time. It may also be cumbersome to transport the replacing module to the site of the vehicle with the failing module. SUMMARY

Despite known solutions in the art, it is desired to develop a method in which a drive module of an assembled vehicle is protected from dirt, water and moisture. It is also desired to develop a functional module for a vehicle, which has a configuration that conform to the surroundings.

An object of the invention is therefore to achieve a method in which a drive module of an assembled vehicle is protected from dirt, water and moisture.

Another object of the invention is to achieve a functional module for a vehicle, which has a configuration that conform to the surroundings.

The herein mentioned objects are achieved with a method and a functional module according to the appended claims.

According to an aspect of the invention a method, performed by a first control device, for physically connecting at least one drive module and a functional module to as- semble a vehicle, wherein the drive module comprises a pair of wheels and is config- ured to be autonomously operated and drive the assembled vehicle; wherein the functional module comprises at least one connecting means adapted for physically connecting the functional module to the drive module; a protection panel, which is configured to cover and expose the connecting means; and the first control device, the method comprising: controlling the protection panel from the covering position to the exposing position; controlling the connecting means to physically connect the modules; and controlling the protection panel from the exposing position to the cover- ing position.

According to an aspect of the invention a functional module for a vehicle is provided, wherein the functional module is adapted to be releasably connected to a drive module for forming an assembled vehicle, the drive module comprises a pair of wheels and is configured to be autonomously operated and drive the assembled vehicle, the func- tional module comprising: at least one connecting means adapted for physically con- necting the functional module to the drive module; a protection panel, which is config- ured to cover and expose the connecting means; and a first control device, wherein the first control device being configured to: control the protection panel from the cov- ering position to the exposing position; control the connecting means to physically con- nect the modules; and control the protection panel from the exposing position to the covering position.

By such a method and functional module, the drive module of the assembled vehicle is protected from dirt, water and moisture. Also, the functional module may have a configuration that conform to the surroundings. The protection panel is configured to cover and expose the connecting means, which is adapted for physically connecting the functional module to the drive module. When the drive module is connected to the functional module and the protection panel covers the connecting means, the protection panel also covers the drive module. In such a covering position the drive module is protected from dirt, water and moisture that otherwise may enter the driv- ing module from above and from the sides of the drive module. However, the under- side of drive module may be exposed to dirt, water and moisture, but the underside of the drive module may be coated by means of an underbody treatment in order to resist dirt, water and moisture from the road.

When assembling the vehicle, the protection panel is controlled from the covering po- sition to the exposing position. In the exposing position the connecting means is ex- posed for the surroundings and it is possible for the driving module to drive towards the functional module and get access to the connecting means on the functional module. When the driving module has reached the functional module, the driving module may be connected to the functional module by means of the connecting means. The connecting means may comprise a physical interface for the purpose of physically connecting the modules. The drive module and the functional module each suitably comprises at least one physical interface for the purpose of physically con- necting the modules. Such physical interfaces may be configured in different ways, and may for example comprise coupling units adapted to engage, quick couplings, hooks, cooperating protrusions and recesses or similar. When the modules has been physically connected by the connecting means, the protection panel is controlling from the exposing position to the covering position. The vehicle is now assembled and may perform a mission. The method according to the invention may be per- formed autonomously.

At least one drive module may be used together with different functional modules. The functional modules may be designed for specific purposes. Therefore, by combining a drive module with a suitable functional module, it is possible to customize a vehicle depending on different missions. A functional module may be prepared to perform a specific function and the autonomously operated drive module may connect with the functional module to achieve an assembled vehicle customized for a certain mission. The protection panel may be designed and configured to adapt to the customized ve hicle. For example, the at least one functional module may be configured with a pas- senger compartment for accommodating passengers and may thus function as a bus when being assembled with the at least one drive module. The protection panel may be configured to conform to the surroundings of the vehicle. The protection panel may thus be provided with an information display for the number of the bus and be config- ured to conform to the bus stops for the bus.

The at least one drive module and thus the assembled vehicle may be configured to be autonomously operated. The first control device comprised in the functional module may be configured to receive commands and instructions from a control centre or an off-board system and to execute the commands/instructions for driving the vehicle and also for controlling the protection panel. This way, the assembled vehicle can drive itself based on the received commands and instructions. The first control device corn- prised in the functional module may control the assembled vehicle to be autonomously driven or operated also based on data from the at least one sensor element, taking situations that may happen during transportation into account. Controlling the protec- tion panel according to the method may be performed, by the first control device corn- prised in the functional module, without instructions from the control centre. The method according to the invention is also applicable to a situation where a failure occurs in the drive module, which may result in a replacement of the drive module. Information about the failure in the drive module is transmitted to the control centre. Such information received by the control centre can be used to instruct another drive module to drive to the place of the vehicle in order to replace the drive module associ- ated with the failure.

For replacing the drive module the protection panel of the functional module is con- trolled from the covering position to the exposing position and thereafter the connection means is controlled to physically disconnect the drive module from the assembled ve- hicle. The drive module associated with the failure is removed from the functional mod- ule and the connecting means is controlled to physically connect another drive module to the functional module. Thereafter, the protection panel is controlled from the expos- ing position to the covering position.

Additional objectives, advantages and novel features of the invention will be apparent to one skilled in the art from the following details, and through exercising the invention. While the invention is described below, it should be apparent that the invention may not be limited to the specifically described details. One skilled in the art, having access to the teachings herein, will recognize additional applications, modifications and incor- porations in other areas, which are within the scope of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Below is a description of, as examples, preferred embodiments with reference to the enclosed drawings, in which:

Figures 1 a and 1 b schematically illustrate side views of a drive module and a functional module provided with a protection panel according to an embodiment;

Figures 2a and 2b schematically illustrate side views of two drive modules and a func- tional module provided with two protection panel according to an embodiment; Figures 3a and 3b schematically illustrate side views of a drive module and a functional module provided with a protection panel according to an embodiment;

Figures 4a and 4b schematically illustrate views of a drive module and a functional module from above provided with a protection panel according to an embodiment; Figure 5a illustrates a flow chart for a safety method according to an embodiment; Figure 5b illustrates a flow chart for a safety method according to an embodiment; and

Figure 6 schematically illustrates a control device or computer according to an embod- iment. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Modularised vehicles are typically assembled at the customer’s premises and the cus- tomer may thus buy a set of modules from a manufacturer. The assembled vehicle may comprise at least two modules including at least one drive module and at least one functional module. Such a modularised vehicle is applicable on all sorts of road vehicles and may thus relate to heavy vehicles, such as buses, trucks etc., which may be used on public roads.

The drive module comprises mechanical and electric components that may be affected by dirt, water and moisture. Therefore, the drive module of an assembled vehicle should be protected from dirt, water and moisture in order to achieve a reliable function of the drive module and the assembled vehicle. The modularised vehicle may be cus tomized depending on different missions. Depending on the mission the vehicle may be configured, so that it conform to the surroundings.

According to an aspect of the present disclosure relates to a method, performed by a first control device, for physically connecting at least one drive module and a func- tional module to assemble a vehicle, wherein the drive module comprises a pair of wheels and is configured to be autonomously operated and drive the assembled ve- hide; wherein the functional module comprises at least one connecting means adapted for physically connecting the functional module to the drive module; a pro- tection panel, which is configured to cover and expose the connecting means; and the first control device, the method comprising: controlling the protection panel from the covering position to the exposing position; controlling the connecting means to physically connect the modules; and controlling the protection panel from the expos- ing position to the covering position.

By such a method, the drive module of the assembled vehicle is protected from dirt, water and moisture. Also, the functional module may have a configuration that con- form to the surroundings. The protection panel is configured to cover and expose the connecting means, which is adapted for physically connecting the functional module to the drive module. When the drive module is connected to the functional module and the protection panel covers the connecting means, the protection panel also co- vers the drive module. In such a covering position the drive module is protected from dirt, water and moisture that otherwise may enter the driving module from above and from the sides of the drive module. However, the underside of drive module may be exposed to dirt, water and moisture, but the underside of the drive module may be coated by means of an underbody treatment in order to resist dirt, water and mois- ture from the road.

When assembling the vehicle, the protection panel is controlled from the covering po- sition to the exposing position. In the exposing position the connecting means is ex- posed for the surroundings and it is possible for the driving module to drive towards the functional module and get access to the connecting means on the functional module. When the driving module has reached the functional module, the driving module may be connected to the functional module by means of the connecting means. The connecting means may comprise a physical interface for the purpose of physically connecting the modules. The drive module and the functional module each suitably comprises at least one physical interface for the purpose of physically con- necting the modules. Such physical interfaces may be configured in different ways, and may for example comprise coupling units adapted to engage, quick couplings, hooks, cooperating protrusions and recesses or similar. When the modules has been physically connected by the connecting means, the protection panel is controlling from the exposing position to the covering position. The vehicle is now assembled and may perform a mission. The method according to the present disclosure may be performed autonomously. At teas! one drive module may be used together with different functional modules. The functional modules may be designed for specific purposes. Therefore, by combining a drive module with a suitable functional module, it is possible to customize a vehicle depending on different missions. A functional module may be prepared to perform a specific function and the autonomously operated drive module may connect with the functional module to achieve an assembled vehicle customized for a certain mission. The protection panel may designed and configured to adapt to the customized vehicle. For example, the at least one functional module may be configured with a passenger compartment for accommodating passengers and may thus function as a bus when being assembled with the at least one drive module. The protection panel may be con- figured to conform to the surroundings of the vehicle. The protection panel may thus be provided with an information display for the number of the bus and be configured to conform to the bus stops for the bus. The at least one drive module and thus the assembled vehicle may be configured to be autonomously operated. The first control device comprised in the functional module may be configured to receive commands and instructions from a control centre or an off-board system and to execute the commands/instructions for driving the vehicle and also for controlling the protection panel. This way, the assembled vehicle can drive itself based on the received commands and instructions. The first control device corn- prised in the functional module may control the assembled vehicle to be autonomously driven or operated also based on data from the at least one sensor element, taking situations that may happen during transportation into account. Controlling the protec- tion panel according to the method may be performed, by the first control device com- prised in the functional module, without instructions from the control centre.

The method according to the present disclosure is also applicable to a situation where a failure occurs in the drive module, which may result in a replacement of the drive module. Information about the failure in the drive module is transmitted to the control centre. Such information received by the control centre can be used to instruct another drive module to drive to the place of the vehicle in order to replace the drive module associated with the failure. For replacing the drive module the protection panel of the functional module is con- trolled from the covering position to the exposing position and thereafter the connection means is controlled to physically disconnect the drive module from the assembled ve- hicle. The drive module associated with the failure is removed from the functional mod- ule and the connecting means is controlled to physically connect another drive module to the functional module. Thereafter, the protection panel is controlled from the expos- ing position to the covering position.

According to an example, controlling the protection panel from the covering position to the exposing position is performed in a vertical direction of the functional module. Con- trolling the protection panel in the vertical direction of the functional module means that the protection panel is moved in a direction from a low level of the vehicle that may be a level of the vehicle that corresponds to an undercarriage or a chassis of the vehicle, to a high level of the vehicle that may be a level of the vehicle that corresponds to the roof of the vehicle. The protection panel may be arranged at a front part of the func- tional module. Another protection panel may be arranged at a rear part of the functional module. Only a small space in front of and behind the functional module is required when controlling the protection panel in a vertical direction of the functional module. If the assembled vehicle for example is a bus, the shape of the protection panels may be essentially flat. A flat protection panel, which is movable in the vertical direction will not require a large space in front of or behind the vehicle when moving the protection panel in the vertical direction. In a situation when several assembled vehicles are parked close to each other and access to the drive module is required, it may be pos- sible to move the protection panel vertically without any obstruction from another parked vehicle. When controlling the protection panel from the covering position to the exposing position, the protection panel moves vertically upwards, so that it opens up a space adapted for the driving module and also exposes the connecting means. When controlling the protection panel from the exposing position to the covering position, the protection panel moves vertically downwards, so that it closes the space adapted for the driving module and also covers the connecting means.

According to an example, controlling the protection panel from the covering position to the exposing position is performed in a horizontal direction of the functional module. The protection panel may be controlled to move in a horizontal direction. This means that the protection panel moves in a direction from a position that corresponds to one side of the vehicle to a position that corresponds to the other side of the vehicle. The protection panel may be arranged at a front part of the functional module. Another protection panel may be arranged at a rear part of the functional module. Only a small space in front of and behind the functional module is required when controlling the protection panel in a horizontal direction of the functional module. If the assembled vehicle for example is a bus, the shape of the protection panels may be essentially flat. A flat protection panel, which is movable in the vertical direction will not require a large space in front of or behind the vehicle when moving the protection panel in the hori- zontal direction. In a situation when several assembled vehicles are parked close to each other and access to the drive module is required, it may be possible to move the protection panel in the horizontal direction without any obstruction from another parked vehicle. The protection panel may be divided in a first and a second protection panel portion. When controlling the protection panel from the covering position to the expos- ing position, the first and a second protection panel portions may move horizontally in opposite directions, so that they open up a space adapted for the driving module and expose the connecting means. When controlling the protection panel from the expos- ing position to the covering position, the first and a second protection panel portions may move horizontally in a direction toward each other, so that they close a space adapted for the driving module and cover the connecting means. The protection panel may be made from a flexible material, so that the first and a second protection panel portions may move horizontally from a position in front of or behind the functional mod- ule, to a position at respective side surfaces of the functional module. According to an example, controlling the protection panel from the covering position to the exposing position is performed by pivoting the protection panel. The protection panel may be controlled to a pivoting movement. This means that the protection panel moves pivotally about an axis. The axis may be arranged horizontally, vertically or in an angle there between. The protection panel may be pivotally connected to functional module by means of at least one hinge. The protection panel may be pivotally arranged at a front part of the functional module. Another protection panel may be pivotally ar- ranged at a rear part of the functional module. If the assembled vehicle for example is a bus, the shape of the protection panels may be essentially flat. If the pivoting axis of the protection panel is horizontal and the protection panel is controlled from the cover- ing position to the exposing position, the protection panel may move pivotally upwards from a position in which the protection panel extends vertically on the front or rear side of the functional module to a position in which the protection panel extends horizontally. When controlling the protection panel from the exposing position to the covering posi- tion, the protection panel may move pivotally downwards from a position in which the protection panel extends horizontally to a position in which the protection panel ex- tends vertically on the front or rear side of the functional module. According to an example, controlling the protection panel from the covering position to the exposing position is performed by an actuator. The actuator may be adapted to the type of movement of the protection panel. If the protection panel should be moved in a vertical or horizontal direction, the actuator may be adapted to perform a linear move- ment. If the protection panel should be moved pivotally the actuator may be adapted to perform a pivotally movement. The actuator may comprise at least one electric mo- tor, pneumatic cylinder or hydraulic cylinder. The actuator may be connected to the first control device, which controls the actuator to move the protection panel from the covering position to the exposing position, and to move the protection panel from the exposing position to the covering position.

The method further comprises instructing the at least one drive module to move to the at least one connecting means arranged on the functional module before physically connecting the modules. The drive module may comprise a control device, referred to as a second control device. The first control device in the functional module and the second control device in the drive module may be adapted to communicate directly with each other or may be adapted to communicate with each other in a network, to- gether with other components. Thus, the first control device in the functional module may instruct the second control device in the at least one drive module to move to the at least one connecting means arranged on the functional module before physically connecting the modules. The drive module comprises a pair of wheels and is config- ured to be autonomously operated and drive towards the functional module when being instructed to do so. An area between the two modules may be identified and infor- mation about the identified area may be transmitted to the drive module. The position of the drive module in relation to the functional module may be continuously determined while the drive module is moving towards the first module. The determined position of the drive module may be transmitted to the functional module.

According to an example, controlling the connecting means to physically connect the modules is performed by a physical interface. The drive module and the functional module each suitably comprises at least one physical interface for the purpose of phys- ically connecting the modules. Such physical interfaces may be configured in different ways, and may for example comprise coupling units adapted to engage, quick cou- plings, hooks, cooperating protrusions and recesses or similar. The drive module may comprise a physical interface for connection with a functional module on at least two different sides of the drive module. This way, the drive module can be connected to a functional module in various ways and the flexibility is increased. According to an ex- ample, the drive module comprises a physical interface both on a front side of the drive module and on a rear side of the drive module. The same drive module can thereby be connected to a front section of a functional module and to a rear section of a func- tional module, without having to turn the drive module. Additionally or alternatively, the drive module may comprise a physical interface on a top side of the drive module. The different physical interfaces for connection with a functional module may be identical on all sides of the drive module. The physical interfaces of the drive module are adapted for connection with a functional module and/or another drive module. By using a standard interface, which can be used for connection with another drive module as well as a functional module, the flexibility of the drive module increases and the as- sembly of a vehicle is facilitated. The physically connection of the modules may corn- prise that the modules are mechanically connected with each other by means of a mechanical interface. However, the physically connection of the modules may also comprise that the modules are electrically connected with each other. The at least one drive module and the at least one functional module may each comprise at least one electrical interface for the purpose of connecting the modules electrically. Such an electrical interface may be configured to transfer electric energy and/or to transmit and/or receive electric signals. The electrical interface may be a wireless interface or a conductive interface. By connecting the drive module and the functional module elec- trically, the modules may transfer electric energy between each other and also share information. The mechanical interface and the electrical interface may be integrated in the same interface. The present disclosure also relates to a computer program comprising instructions which, when the program is executed by a computer, causes the computer to carry out the method disclosed above. The present disclosure further relates to a computer- readable medium comprising instructions, which when executed by a computer causes the computer to carry out the method disclosed above.

Furthermore, the present disclosure relates to a functional module for a vehicle, wherein the functional module is adapted to be releasably connected to a drive module for forming an assembled vehicle, the drive module comprises a pair of wheels and is configured to be autonomously operated and drive the assembled vehicle, the func- tional module comprising: at least one connecting means adapted for physically con- necting the functional module to the drive module; a protection panel, which is config- ured to cover and expose the connecting means; and a first control device, wherein the first control device being configured to: control the protection panel from the cov- ering position to the exposing position; control the connecting means to physically con- nect the modules; and control the protection panel from the exposing position to the covering position. The drive module of the assembled vehicle is protected from dirt, water and moisture. The functional module may have a configuration that conform to the surroundings. The protection panel is configured to cover and expose the connecting means, which is adapted for physically connecting the functional module to the drive module. When the drive module is connected to the functional module and the protection panel co- vers the connecting means, the protection panel also covers the drive module. In such a covering position the drive module is protected from dirt, water and moisture that otherwise may enter the driving module from above and from the sides of the drive module. However, the underside of drive module may be exposed to dirt, water and moisture, but the underside of the drive module may be coated by means of an underbody treatment in order to resist dirt, water and moisture from the road.

When assembling the vehicle, the protection panel is controlled from the covering po- sition to the exposing position. In the exposing position the connecting means is ex- posed for the surroundings and it is possible for the driving module to drive towards the functional module and get access to the connecting means on the functional mod- ule. When the driving module has reached the functional module, the driving module may be connected to the functional module by means of the connecting means. The connecting means may comprise a physical interface for the purpose of physically con- necting the modules. The drive module and the functional module each suitably corn- prises at least one physical interface for the purpose of physically connecting the mod- ules. Such physical interfaces may be configured in different ways, and may for exam- pie comprise coupling units adapted to engage, quick couplings, hooks, cooperating protrusions and recesses or similar. When the modules has been physically connected by the connecting means, the protection panel is controlling from the exposing position to the covering position. The vehicle is now assembled and may perform a mission.

The protection panel may be provided with a sensor element, which detects any object that may be an obstacle for the movement of the protection panel from the exposing position to the covering position and in the opposite direction. If an obstacle is detected the movement of the protection panel is interrupted. The movement of the protection panel may continue when the obstacle is removed.

According to an aspect, the first control device is configured to control the protection panel from the covering position to the exposing position in a vertical direction of the functional module. When the protection panel is controlled from the covering position to the exposing position, the protection panel is controlled to move vertically upwards, so that it opens up a space adapted for the driving module and also exposes the con- necting means. When the protection panel is controlled from the exposing position to the covering position, the protection panel is controlled to move vertically downwards, so that it closes the space adapted for the driving module and also covers the connect- ing means.

According to an aspect, the first control device is configured to control the protection panel from the covering position to the exposing position in a horizontal direction of the functional module. The protection panel may be divided in a first and a second protec- tion panel portion. When the protection panel is controlled from the covering position to the exposing position, the first and a second protection panel portions may move horizontally in opposite directions, so that they open up a space adapted for the driving module and expose the connecting means. When the protection panel is controlled from the exposing position to the covering position, the first and a second protection panel portions may move horizontally in a direction toward each other, so that they close a space adapted for the driving module and cover the connecting means.

According to an aspect, the first control device is configured to control the protection panel from the covering position to the exposing position by pivoting the protection panel. The protection panel may be pivotally arranged about an axis. The axis may be arranged horizontally, vertically or in an angle there between. The protection panel may be pivotally connected to functional module by means of at least one hinge. If the pivoting axis of the protection panel is horizontal and the protection panel is controlled from the covering position to the exposing position, the protection panel may move pivotally upwards from a position in which the protection panel extends vertically on the front or rear side of the functional module to a position in which the protection panel extends horizontally. When controlling the protection panel from the exposing position to the covering position, the protection panel may move pivotally downwards from a position in which the protection panel extends horizontally to a position in which the protection panel extends vertically on the front or rear side of the functional module. According to an aspect, the first control device is configured to control the protection panel from the covering position to the exposing position by an actuator. The actuator may comprise at least one electric motor, pneumatic cylinder or hydraulic cylinder. The actuator may be connected to the first control device, which controls the actuator to move the protection panel from the covering position to the exposing position, and to move the protection panel from the exposing position to the covering position.

According to an aspect, the first control device is configured to instruct the at least one drive module to move to the at least one connecting means arranged on the functional module before the connecting means is controlled to physically connect the modules. The drive module may comprise a control device, referred to as a second control de- vice. The first control device in the functional module and the second control device in the drive module may be adapted to communicate directly with each other or may be adapted to communicate with each other in a network, together with other components. Thus, the first control device in the functional module may instruct the second control device in the at least one drive module to move to the at least one connecting means arranged on the functional module before physically connecting the modules. The drive module comprises a pair of wheels and is configured to be autonomously operated and drive towards the functional module when being instructed to do so. An area between the two modules may be identified and information about the identified area may be transmitted to the drive module. The position of the drive module in relation to the functional module may be continuously determined while the drive module is moving towards the first module. The determined position of the drive module may be trans- mitted to the functional module.

According to an aspect, the first control device is configured to control the connecting means to physically connect the modules by a physical interface. The drive module and the functional module each suitably comprises at least one physical interface for the purpose of physically connecting the modules. Such physical interfaces may be configured in different ways, and may for example comprise coupling units adapted to engage, quick couplings, hooks, cooperating protrusions and recesses or similar. The physically connection of the modules may comprise that the modules are mechanically connected with each other by means of a mechanical interface. However, the physi- cally connection of the modules may also comprise that the modules are electrically connected with each other.

According to an aspect of the present disclosure a vehicle assembled from a set of modules is provided, wherein the vehicle comprises at least one functional module. The set of modules comprising: at least one drive module; and at least one functional module. The vehicle comprises at least one connecting means adapted for physically connecting the functional module to the drive module. The vehicle further comprises a protection panel, which is configured to cover and expose the connecting means. The vehicle further comprises a first control device as disclosed herein. The present disclosure will now be further illustrated with reference to the appended figures.

Fig. 1 a schematically illustrates a side view of a drive module 30 and a functional mod- ule 40 provided with a protection panel 10 according to an embodiment. The functional module 40 is adapted to be releasably connected to the drive module 30 for forming the assembled vehicle 1. In fig. 1 a the drive module 30 and a functional module 40 are illustrated at a distance to each other and are therefore not yet connected to each other. The drive module 30 comprises a pair of wheels 32 and is configured to be autonomously operated and drive the assembled vehicle 1 when the drive module 30 and a functional module 40 are connected. The functional module 40 comprising at least one connecting means 14 adapted for physically connecting the functional mod- ule 40 to the drive module 30. The functional module 40 comprising wheels 34. The functional module 40 also comprising a protection panel 10, which is configured to cover and expose the connecting means 14. The protection panel 10 is moved from a covering position to an exposing position in a vertical direction of the functional module 40. Controlling the protection panel 10 in the vertical direction of the functional module 40 means that the protection panel 10 is moved in a direction from a low level of the vehicle 1 that may be a level of the vehicle 1 that corresponds to an undercarriage or a chassis 8 of the vehicle 1 , to a high level of the vehicle 1 that may be a level of the vehicle 1 that corresponds to the roof 9 of the vehicle 1. The protection panel 10 may be moved from the covering position to the exposing position by means of an actuator 12. The actuator 12 may comprise at least one electric motor, pneumatic cylinder or hydraulic cylinder. The functional module 40 also comprising a first control device 100. The first control device 100 is connected to the actuator 12. The first control device

100 is configured to control the protection panel 10 from the covering position to the exposing position, and to move the protection panel 10 from the exposing position to the covering position. The drive module 30 may comprise a control device, referred to as a second control device 200. The first control device 100 in the functional module 40 and the second control device 200 in the drive module 30 may be adapted to com- municate directly with each other or may be adapted to communicate with each other in a network, together with other components. In fig. 1a the protection panel 10 has been moved from the covering position to the exposing position. In the exposing posi- tion the connecting means 14 is exposed for the surroundings and it is possible for the drive module 30 to drive towards the functional module 40 and get access to the con- necting means 14 on the functional module 40. When the drive module 30 has reached the functional module 40, the drive module 30 may be connected to the functional module 40 by means of the connecting means 14. The connecting means 14 may comprise a physical interface 14 for the purpose of physically connecting the modules 30, 40. The drive module 30 and the functional module 40 each suitably comprises at least one physical interface 14 for the purpose of physically connecting the modules 30, 40. The physical interface 14 on the functional module 40 is connected to the first control device 100, which is configured to control the physical interface 14 on the func- tion module to physically connect the modules 30, 40. The functional module 40 in fig. 1 is provided with an indentation 16, which is adapted for the drive module 30. Due to the indentation 16 the length of the assembled vehicle 1 will coincide with the length of the functional module 40. However, the functional module 40 may be configured without an indentation 16 and the drive module 30 may be connected directly to the front side or the rear side of the functional module 40.

Fig. 1 b schematically illustrates a side view of a drive module 30 and a functional mod- ule 40 provided with a protection panel 10 according to an embodiment. In fig. 1 b the drive module 30 has reached the functional module 40 and the drive module 30 has been connected to the functional module 40 by means of the connecting means 14. The protection panel 10 has been controlled from the exposing position to the covering position. Thus, the physically connected drive module 30 and functional module 40 together form an assembled vehicle 1. The drive module 30 of the assembled vehicle 1 is by the protection panel 10 protected from dirt, water and moisture. The properties of the at least one functional module 40 and two drive modules 30 may be selected based on a function to be performed. Thus, a customized vehicle 1 can be assembled, which may be suitable for a function to be performed. Also, an assembled vehicle 1 may be achieved, which is adapted to the surroundings and the operating conditions of the vehicle 1. A control centre 18 may for example determine that certain suspension characteristics, certain brake settings and/or a certain steering ratio are required for the function to be performed by the assembled vehicle 1. Different configurations of the drive module 30 may thus be required when the drive modules 30 form part of the assembled vehicle 1 performing the function of transporting people, transporting goods, shovelling snow etc. The drive modules 30 may also be adapted to be dynam- ically configured based on the surroundings in which the assembled vehicle 1 will per- form its function. The configuration instructions from the control centre 18 may thus be based on the selected functional module 40 connected with the drive module 30. The functional module 40 may be configured with a passenger compartment 20 for accom- modating passengers and may thus function as a bus when being assembled with the drive module 30. Fig. 2a schematically illustrates a side view of two drive modules 30 and a functional module 40 provided with two protection panels 10 according to an embodiment. The shape of the two drive modules 30 may be identical, so that they can connect to either side of the functional module 40. The protection panels 10 in the embodiment of fig. Fig. 2b schematically illustrates a side view of two drive modules 30 and a functional module 40 provided with two protection panels 10 according to an embodiment. In fig. 2b the drive modules 30 are connected to the functional module 40 and the interfaces of the drive modules 30 and the functional module 40 are thus connected with each other. Thus, the drive modules 30 have reached the functional module 40 and the drive modules 30 have been connected to the functional module 40 by means of the con- necting means 14. The protection panels 10 has been controlled from the exposing position to the covering position. The protection panels 10 according to the embodi- ment shown in fig. 2a and fig. 2b have a similar configuration as the protection panel 10 according to the embodiment shown in fig. 1 a and fig. 1 b.

Fig. 3a schematically illustrates a side view of a drive module 30 and a functional mod- ule 40 provided with a protection panel 10 according to an embodiment. The functional module 40 is adapted to be releasably connected to the drive module 30 for forming the assembled vehicle 1. In fig. 3a the drive module 30 and a functional module 40 are illustrated at a distance to each other and are therefore not yet connected to each other. The drive module 30 comprises a pair of wheels 32 and is configured to be autonomously operated and drive the assembled vehicle 1 when the drive module 30 and a functional module 40 are connected. The functional module 40 comprising at least one connecting means 14 adapted for physically connecting the functional mod- ule 40 to the drive module 30. The functional module 40 also comprising a protection panel 10, which is configured to cover and expose the connecting means 14. The pro- tection panel 10 is moved from a covering position to an exposing position by pivoting the protection panel 10. The protection panel 10 may thus be controlled to a pivoting movement. The protection panel 10 may be pivotally connected to functional module 40 by means of at least one hinge 22. The protection panel 10 may be moved from the covering position to the exposing position by means of an actuator 12. The actuator 12 may comprise at least one electric motor, pneumatic cylinder or hydraulic cylinder. Fig. 3b schematically illustrates a side view of a drive module 30 and a functional mod- ule 40 provided with a protection panel 10 according to an embodiment. In fig. 3b the drive module 30 has reached the functional module 40 and the drive module 30 has been connected to the functional module 40 by means of the connecting means 14. The protection panel 10 has been controlled from the exposing position to the covering position by means of the actuator 12, which is connected to the first control device 100.

Fig. 4a schematically illustrates a view of a drive module 30 and a functional module 40 from above provided with a protection panel 10 according to an embodiment. The functional module 40 is adapted to be releasably connected to the drive module 30 for forming the assembled vehicle 1. In fig. 4a the drive module 30 and a functional module 40 are illustrated at a distance to each other and are therefore not yet connected to each other. The drive module 30 comprises a pair of wheels 32 and is configured to be autonomously operated and drive the assembled vehicle 1 when the drive module 30 and a functional module 40 are connected. The functional module 40 comprising at least one connecting means 14 adapted for physically connecting the functional mod- ule 40 to the drive module 30. The functional module 40 also comprising a protection panel 10, which is configured to cover and expose the connecting means 14. According to this embodiment the protection panel 10 may be controlled to move in a horizontal direction. This means that the protection panel 10 moves in a direction from a position that corresponds to one side of the vehicle 1 to a position that corresponds to the other side of the vehicle 1. The protection panel 10 may be divided in a first and a second protection panel portion 36, 38. When controlling the protection panel 10 from the cov- ering position to the exposing position, the first and a second protection panel portions 36, 38 may move horizontally in opposite directions, so that they open up a space adapted for the drive module 30 and expose the connecting means 14. The protection panel 10 may be made from a flexible material, so that the first and a second protection panel portions 36, 38 may move horizontally from a position in front of or behind the functional module 40, to a position at respective side surfaces of the functional module 40. The protection panel portions 36, 38 may be moved from the covering position to the exposing position by means of actuators 12. The actuators 12 may comprise at least one electric motor, pneumatic cylinder or hydraulic cylinder.

Fig. 4b schematically illustrates a view of a drive module 30 and a functional module 40 from above provided with a protection panel 10 according to an embodiment. In fig.

4b the drive module 30 has reached the functional module 40 and the drive module 30 has been connected to the functional module 40 by means of the connecting means 14. Thereafter, the first and a second protection panel portions 36, 38 have been moved horizontally in a direction toward each other, so that they close a space adapted for the drive module 30 and cover the connecting means 14 and also the drive module 30. The protection panel portions 36, 38 have been controlled from the exposing posi- tion to the covering position by means of the actuators 12, which are connected to the first control device 100. Fig. 5a illustrates a flow chart for a method, performed by a first control device 100, for physically connecting at least one drive module 30 and a functional module 40 to as- semble a vehicle 1.The method thus relates to the physically connecting of the at least one drive module 30 and the functional module 40 as disclosed in figures 1 a - 4b. The drive module 30 comprises a pair of wheels 32 and is configured to be autonomously operated and drive the assembled vehicle 1. The functional module 40 comprises at least one connecting means 14 adapted for physically connecting the functional mod- ule 40 to the drive module 30, a protection panel 10, which is configured to cover and expose the connecting means 14; and the first control device 100. The method corn- prises controlling s101 the protection panel 10 from the covering position to the expos- ing position, controlling s102 the connecting means 14 to physically connect the mod- ules 30, 40, and controlling s103 the protection panel 10 from the exposing position to the covering position.

According to an aspect, the controlling s101 the protection panel 10 from the covering position to the exposing position is performed in a vertical direction of the functional module 40. According to a further aspect, the controlling s101 the protection panel 10 from the covering position to the exposing position is performed in a horizontal direction of the functional module 40. According to a further aspect, the controlling s101 the protection panel 10 from the covering position to the exposing position is performed by pivoting the protection panel 10. According to a further aspect, the controlling s101 the protection panel 10 from the covering position to the exposing position is performed by an actuator 12. According to a further aspect, the controlling the connecting means 14 to physically connect the modules 30, 40 is performed by a physical interface 14.

Fig. 5b illustrates a flow chart for a method, performed by a first control device 100, for physically connecting at least one drive module 30 and a functional module 40 to as- semble a vehicle 1. The method comprises controlling s101 the protection panel 10 from the covering position to the exposing position, controlling s102 the connecting means 14 to physically connect the modules 30, 40, and controlling s103 the protection panel 10 from the exposing position to the covering position. The method further corn- prises instructing s104 the at least one drive module 30 to move to the at least one connecting means 14 arranged on the functional module 40 before physically connect- ing the modules 30, 40.

Figure 6 is a diagram of a version of a device 500. The first control device 100 of the functional module 40 may in a version comprise the device 500. The device 500 corn- prises a non-volatile memory 520, a data processing unit 510 and a read/write memory 550. The non-volatile memory 520 has a first memory element 530 in which a computer programme, e.g. an operating system, is stored for controlling the function of the device 500. The device 500 further comprises a bus controller, a serial communication port, I/O means, an A/D converter, a time and date input and transfer unit, an event counter and an interruption controller (not depicted). The non-volatile memory 520 has also a second memory element 540.

There is provided a computer programme P which comprises routines for performing the safety method. The programme P may be stored in an executable form or in a compressed form in a memory 560 and/or in a read/write memory 550. Where the data processing unit 510 is described as performing a certain function, it means that the data processing unit 510 effects a certain part of the programme stored in the memory 560 or a certain part of the programme stored in the read/write memory 550. The data processing device 510 can communicate with a data port 599 via a data bus 515. The non-volatile memory 520 is intended for communication with the data pro- cessing unit 510 via a data bus 512. The separate memory 560 is intended to com- municate with the data processing unit 510 via a data bus 511. The read/write memory 550 is adapted to communicating with the data processing unit 510 via a data bus 514.

When data are received on the data port 599, they are stored temporarily in the second memory element 540. When input data received have been temporarily stored, the data processing unit 510 is prepared to effect code execution as described above.

Parts of the methods herein described may be effected by the device 500 by means of the data processing unit 510 which runs the programme stored in the memory 560 or the read/write memory 550. When the device 500 runs the programme, methods herein described are executed.

The foregoing description of the embodiments has been furnished for illustrative and descriptive purposes. It is not intended to be exhaustive, or to limit the embodiments to the variants described. Many modifications and variations will obviously be apparent to one skilled in the art. The embodiments have been chosen and described in order to best explicate principles and practical applications, and to thereby enable one skilled in the art to understand the embodiments in terms of its various embodiments and with the various modifications that are applicable to its intended use. The components and features specified above may, within the framework of the embodiments, be combined between different embodiments specified.