The Evolution of the 'Sensitive Car'

Jan. 1, 2020
"The mobility of society is increasing worldwide. Traffic density and total mileage driven are permanently increasing - both in the industrialized countries and, above all, in the emerging markets," says Dr. Rainer Kallenbach, executive vice presiden
The Evolution of the 'Sensitive Car'

"The mobility of society is increasing worldwide. Traffic density and total mileage driven are permanently increasing - both in the industrialized countries and, above all, in the emerging markets," says Dr. Rainer Kallenbach, executive vice president for Sales, Automotive Electronics Robert Bosch GmbH. 

These and other factors, such as the increasing age of drivers in many countries, make it vital to further improve active and passive vehicle safety. The cars of the future will not only offer drivers greater support and more information, but because of the increasing volume of traffic, they will have to help relieve the burden on the driver by processing more information faster.

Cars with feelingsBe it the display, alarm or noticeable intervention in the driving maneuver, the interface between the driver and these technologies is crucially important. Bosch foresees using several of the human senses to enable communication between technology and driver. 

* Sight is engaged by displays on the instrument panel with a programmable interface, or heads-up displays that show information on the windshield. 

* The sense of touch can be triggered by incorporating slight adjustments to the steering or vibration of the steering wheel to warn the driver against moving out of lane, or also short but clearly noticeable automatic braking actions to alarm the driver when there is a risk of impact. 

* The use of hearing is facilitated through warning tones or sounds such as those produced when you drive over lane demarcations.
A Human Touch
Active safety systems help the driver to avoid accidents, while passive safety systems reduce the severity of the consequences in the event of an accident. Currently, these systems - the seatbelt, the antilock braking system (ABS), the traction control system (TCS), the airbag and the electronic stability program (ESP) - have already achieved high market penetration in industrialized countries because of their marked contribution to improving safety. These systems were first introduced on higher-end vehicles, but are now so cost-effective that demand is growing in the middle and compact classes, as well as in emerging markets.  "We are working at full speed on developing the 'sensitive car,'" Kallenbach reports. "This car will soon be able to see what is happening all around it, thanks to sensors and ultra-high-performance video-electronic systems."  He adds that Bosch is pioneering a number of driver assistance and predictive safety systems within its portfolio. Many of these next-generation sensing systems will be deployed in production series vehicles by 2010.  The technology in the "sensitive car" combines ultrasonic sensors that monitor the car's immediate environment up to a distance of 4 meters, video cameras that provide a medium range overview of up to 80 meters in front of the car, and radar sensors that capture a long-range overview of up to 200 meters in front of the car.  Using these integrated systems, the car learns to perceive and interpret its surroundings. The "eyes" of the car are cameras, while its "feelers" are ultrasonic and radar sensors. The car orients itself using map and positioning information from satellites or navigation systems. In this way, the assistance systems develop their own understanding of the driving situation, using this information to instruct, relieve and support the driver. "The video camera teaches the car how to see," notes Kallenbach. "As computing methods become more intelligent and circuits more powerful, it will be possible to use video cameras, sophisticated electronics and software to interpret the driving situation - and provide completely new functions."
With Night Vision Assistance, the driver can recognize hazardous situations sooner, giving him more time to react. (Photo: Robert Bosch GmbH)Prompting a response
"We use these 'senses' to develop other driver assistance systems with new functions, and even better performance," states Kallenbach. "We network these systems - which allows Bosch to implement new functions - so that they can exchange information among themselves. By combining video and radar, our systems are reliable enough to detect whether the accident is genuinely unavoidable or not." Bosch is also currently preparing additional functions as part of its development of the sensitive car.  "Bosch is making electronics so intelligent that they automatically identify and respond to dangers on the road and warn the driver," Kallenbach says. These systems will respond more quickly and reliably than the driver during day and night, and also in poor weather conditions. In the first-response stage, it sounds an alarm or displays a visual warning signal. In later stages, using further technical advances, new systems will also be able to automatically brake, steer or take some other appropriate action. For example, in the future, video images will show both the lane demarcations and stationary or moving objects on the road ahead - whether by night or day. 
The combination of radar and video sensor technology will enable Bosch's Predictive Emergency Brake system to deliver foresighted, automatic emergency braking. Although it won't prevent an accident, the function will reduce the impact. (Photo: Robert Bosch GmbH) Accidents are often caused when a driver is drifting out of his lane unintentionally as a result of a moment's lapse in concentration. This system, which connects video camera signals with those of a steering-angle sensor, can identify such a dangerous situation and issue an alarm. A vibration is used to warn the driver, after which he is guided back on to the proper lane by a gentle turning of the steering wheel.  Another system under development can detect danger by automatically recognizing and interpreting traffic signals and then taking appropriate course of action should a driver not respond in a timely manner. By 2010, Bosch will begin marketing a more cost-effective and powerful version of its night vision sensor for series production in both mid-range and compact vehicles. They will be scalable and provide a larger overview of the area in front of the car. By then, Bosch will also be supplying similar systems to manufacturers of heavy commercial vehicles. In addition, Bosch intends to bring predictive emergency brake, secondary crash avoidance, pole crash avoidance and other new safety functions to market.Support, don't replace the driver
These new integrated systems ensure drivers are more attentive at critical moments, and warn drivers of imminent danger. The safety systems are designed to identify hazardous situations and, if necessary, to intervene automatically in the driving maneuver. However, regardless of how much the systems relieve the burden on the driver, Kallenbach stresses that it is essential that the driver always be able to override any system function and take control. 
Pending video systems will be able to detect, recognize and react to traffic signs, by showing the correct speed limit in the display and issuing warnings against speeding to the driver. (Photo: Robert Bosch GmbH)

"No matter what the communication channel, it is essential that the information is prepared and prioritized collectively," Kallenbach comments. "Only information that is relevant and comprehensible to the driver should be passed on to him directly. He must not be hampered by the assistance systems, nor under any circumstances be overtaxed in critical situations. The best interface is the one that prompts the right reaction from the driver intuitively without the need for complicated thought processes."

Kallenbach says that key components for safety, reliability and comfort systems rely on intelligent semiconductor chips that must exceed by many times the standards required in the consumer electronics sector. 

"For this reason, we manufacture our own key components for automotive electronics," he explains. "Our advances in micro-controllers and sensors are crucial to our efforts to ensure assistance, safety and comfort systems can be produced more cost-effectively in the next decade, even as their performance continues to improve.

"Bosch is working flat out in order to make the vision of accident-free driving as much of a reality as possible," Kallenbach adds. "That might sound like some vision of the future, but everyone familiar with Bosch knows that we are developing these functions to series production step by step."

(Source: Robert Bosch GmbH)

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