Sublime Substances by T Murrali
Jun 15, 2020

Intelligence Drives Vehicles

Has innovation taken a backseat during Covid19? I don’t think so as the innovators’ caps were intact; the only change was they were wearing different shoes. Many OEMs and suppliers across the globe spent time on innovating ideas to craft support systems to fight the pandemic rather than scratching their creative brains developing new stuff for the automotive industry. However, let me focus on the sublime substances from and for the automotive industry.

Recently Vitesco Technologies has signed a development partnership with ROHM Semiconductor in which the former will use SiC (silicon carbide) components to further increase the efficiency of its power electronics for electric vehicles through their higher efficiency SiC semiconductors that make better use of the electric energy stored in a vehicle battery. Eventually, electric vehicles would either have a longer range, or the battery cost could be reduced without impacting the scope. This holds good as energy efficiency is paramount for any electric vehicle and any loss caused by power conversion has to be necessarily minimised.

Traffic In ‘Connected’

Connected vehicles that can communicate with roadside infrastructure in real time will reduce emissions and the risk of accidents. This communication requires a stable and reliable data link which can be provided by high-performance 5G, the new fifth-generation wireless technology for cellular networks, or by Wi-Fi-based alternatives (ITS-G5). Interestingly, 16 research institutions, medium-sized enterprises, and major players have been working toward this goal over the past three years in the 5G NetMobil research project. They are now presenting their results, which would make it possible for major strides in a new era of mobility. With the 5G NetMobil project, they have achieved decisive milestones on the road to fully connected driving and are demonstrating how modern communication technologies can make road traffic safer, more efficient, and more economical, all at the same time. The groundwork done in this project, funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research with Euro 9.5 million, in the areas of networks, security, and communication protocols now underpin efforts to standardize specifications, develop new business models, and ramp up the partners’ first production runs.

Coming to vehicle makers, Mercedes Benz revealed that its latest generation of driver assistance systems in the new E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet dream cars have a particularly high level of active safety, enabling them to react even if the driver does not take relevant action. The hands-off detection of the new steering wheel works with due capability, which increases the operating comfort during semi-automated driving. The steering wheel rim contains a two-zone sensor mat that detects if the hands are gripping the steering wheel. The driver no longer needs to make a steering movement to signal to the assistance systems that they are in control of the vehicle. If the driver’s hands are not on the steering wheel for a certain period of time, a warning sequence is initiated which, if the driver remains inactive, activates Emergency Stop Assist. In addition, these cars have features to help when turning across oncoming lanes and – in addition to conventional parking spaces and garages – can also park automatically on marked surfaces without adjacent vehicles. Intelligence drives the automobile.

Recently Skoda has revealed a slew of safety features that made its debut for the brand in the fourth-generation Octavia. The new technologies will not just ensure safety for the driver of the vehicle but also for other motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. Turn Assist will be introduced for the first time in any Skoda automobile and Octavia is the first vehicle in its class to launch this innovative safety technology. Using Octavia's on-board cameras, the system will be able to monitor incoming traffic when turning right at a junction as well as identify cyclists and pedestrians. If immediate danger is detected when executing a manoeuvre, the vehicle will be brought to a complete standstill, triggering the warning signal to prevent a possible collision. This advanced safety feature will be in standby mode every time the engine is switched on, and is activated when the correct indicator is on. While the indicator would demonstrate to other road users the intention of the driver, Turn Assist will ensure additional assistance, so that any potential accident is avoided. Yes, Intelligence actually does drive Vehicles! (MT)


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