Feb 04, 2020

Expect The Unexpected!

Welcome to my column that will take you through the field of avant-garde innovations. These are the results of continuously chasing novelty to materialize goals that meet pressing customer demands. My attempt is to bring to you the innovations that can sway the automotive ecosystem now and in future.

The most stunning innovation was from the entertainment technology giant Sony that blazed the trail with its electric car at CES 2020, Las Vegas. Built by Sony's internal AI and robotics team, it leveraged engineering support from one of the largest automotive component suppliers, Magna Steyr.  Magna is also a leading contract manufacturer of cars for OEMs like BMW. In present times we have to expect the unexpected!

Mercedes-Benz showcased VISION AVTR, an outcome of its global partnership with AVATAR Films. The vehicle that connects the human, machine and nature in an unprecedented way is powered by four motors with a cumulative power of 350 kW. It is powered by graphene-based organic cell chemistry, completely eliminating rare, toxic and expensive minerals and metals. Due to the possibility of driving the front and rear axles simultaneously, or in opposite directions, the vehicle can move sideways by about 30 degrees, in contrast to conventional vehicles. This ‘crab movement’ gives the concept vehicle a reptile-like appearance even in its movement. It has the capability to fully charge in less than 15 minutes through automated, conductive technology. With a capacity of around 110 kWh, the VISION AVTR enables an electric range of more than 700 km.

In a bid to make the time spent in a car more fruitful and enjoyable, audio specialist Harman is coming out with many innovative technologies. The company is aiming to put an end to constant fiddling with the volume control whenever you want to chat in the car. As part of its EV Plus+ Solutions, it has created a suite of audio technologies specifically for electric cars, Voice-Sensing Volume Fade. It can differentiate in-car communication from music, seamlessly adjusting the audio volume level down when conversations are taking place and automatically turning the music up as soon as the talking is over. The company is also making audio hardware, Ecotect, more suitable for EVs. It ensures powerful audio performance with half the parts; and boasts of less weight, complexity and power consumption than traditional systems.

By 2025, the global market volume for AI applications is expected to be around USD 120 billion, a 12-fold increase from that in 2018. Aiming to be an innovation leader in AI, Bosch has come out with a Virtual Visor - an AI-based digital vehicle sun visor. It has also introduced an application for predictive maintenance of the International Space Station, a system for monitoring vehicle interiors, and a smart platform for medical diagnostics. As part of its plans the company will also focus on industrial applications of AI.

Hyundai Motor Company has showcased its future mobility vision, exhibiting S-A1, the company’s first fully-electric concept personal air vehicle for urban air mobility. It has also revealed its Purpose Built Vehicle (PBV), capable of adapting to specific lifestyle needs of passengers and reducing time wasted on congested roads.

Continental and Sennheiser presented a speaker-less audio system for the vehicle interior. The system fills the vehicle interior with life-like immersive sound by integrating Sennheiser’s patented AMBEO 3D audio technology with Continental’s Ac2ated Sound system. The result: it has eliminated conventional speakers, making select surfaces in the vehicle interior produce sounds that envelop passengers in an incredibly detailed and vivid soundscape, allowing them to enjoy their in-car entertainment to the fullest. In comparison to conventional audio systems, Ac2ated Sound enables a reduction of weight and space of up to 90 percent. The system produces the highest audio quality and is perfectly suited for electric vehicles, where saving space and weight is a priority.

The French company Tali Connected has introduced a new helmet that is ringed by colour-changing LEDs for improved visibility, with functions including a rear-mounted brake light and turn signals. Paired via Bluetooth with the smart phone, it can not only play music, take phone calls or read navigation instructions, but also automatically place a call to emergency services when a fall or accident is detected.

Massive expansion of future technologies such as automated driving and e-mobility has created additional demand for engineering capacities, and to address this ZF has established its third R&D centre in Guangzhou, China. Its core competencies will be on software development and related technologies on mobility of the future. The two development centres of ZF in Shanghai develop active and passive safety technologies; as also driveline and chassis technologies for customers throughout the Asia-Pacific region. To be operational by 2023, the new centre will develop technologies and system solutions for other regions. (MT)


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