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Qt Group joined in 2023 the Official Supplier Program of Ducati Motor Holding, consolidating a long-term collaboration in the implementation of digital clusters on a number of projects.
The recently released Ducati Scrambler uses Qt for MCUs' powerful and lightweight graphics engine to power its brand-defining digital display.
On a motorcycle like Ducati Scrambler, which makes of reactivity, performance, and style its defining factors, the digital display is an integral part of the overall brand experience and should reflect the overall motorcycle’s character of fluidity, promptness, and elegance. The complex cluster design includes stylish splash screen animations, dynamic multilingual menus that change position and size on the screen for optimal readability, and swift real-time interaction with motorcycle data.
Faster time-to-market with Qt
The market requires modern, rich, and sophisticated graphics, with dynamic visuals that adapt to world events. Speed, intervention of electronic vehicle control system, RPMs should be reflected on screen in real-time, with a constant data flow happening in the range of milliseconds. We needed to achieve smartphone-like performance, but without the corresponding gigahertz clock capabilities.
Claudio Mariani, Instrument Cluster & Connectivity Supervisor at Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A.
Qt for MCUs enables elegant and fluid "quasi-3D graphics" on the microcontroller selected by Ducati. Qt for MCUs runs on bare metal with highly optimized libraries tailored to the specificity of the use case. The complete application runs on only about 1.5MB of RAM.
Ducati, in collaboration with Egicon S.r.l.—the tier 1 supplier in charge of creating the Scrambler's cluster—was searching for a low-footprint framework without dependencies on a specific operating system in order to decouple GUI development from hardware driver development and system configuration—ultimately, to create a nimble system stripped out of all unnecessary elements. Qt for MCUs enabled the Egicon team to work on bare metal, but also to develop the UI on PC before the actual hardware was ready.
With Qt technology, we were able to develop and test the UI on PC while a second team was developing the hardware from bare metal. At the time we moved to integration, the UI graphics and functionality were already tested and only needed to be verified on the actual hardware. Such parallel workflow reduced our delivery time by over 50%.
Amilcare Franciosi, Automotive Team Leader at Egicon S.r.l.
The Ducati team had several meetings with Qt Support Team to optimize the UI application’s performance. The move to Qt for MCUs 2.2 (the latest version at the time of implementation) enabled Ducati to leverage RLE compression for complex 32-bit background images, with great improvement over raw RGB format.
The convergence between brand style and graphics is a fundamental element for the success of such a prestigious motorcycle, leaving no margin for compromises. Microcontrollers represent robust devices for applications requiring snap boot, accurate timing, thermal efficiency, and real-time control but pose constraints on resource utilization—constraints that are, with technological advancements, becoming less and less cogent. Qt Quick Ultralite lightweight graphics engine and its hardware acceleration capabilities offered the low footprint needed to run such compelling visuals on a microcontroller.
There has been a great deal of work to optimize layer interaction, reduce the number of screen areas recreated in dynamic scenes, reproduce the effect of a video animation by means of moving objects, fading effects, clipping. What now appear as fluid, aesthetic animations on the Scrambler's cluster is the result of a combination between QML UI capabilities and extensive use of C++ code.
Roberto Bellinato, Software Project Manager at Egicon S.r.l., responsible for the project’s graphics and animations.
Founded in 1926, since 1946 Ducati has been manufacturing sport-inspired motorcycles characterised by high-performance engines, innovative design and cutting-edge technology. The Ducati factory is located in Bologna’s Borgo Panigale district. The model range covers several market segments with the following families: DesertX, Diavel, XDiavel, Hypermotard, Monster, Multistrada, Panigale, Streetfighter and SuperSport.
In 2015, Ducati presented the Ducati Scrambler: a new brand made of bikes, accessories and apparel that that stands out for its creativity and self-expression. Ducati’s iconic motorcycles, together with an extensive range of bike accessories and technical and lifestyle apparel, are distributed in 90 countries worldwide. In 2022, Ducati delivered 61,562 bikes to customers.