As we step into a new decade starting 2020 there are a lot of anticipations and expectations from the Indian automobile industry – especially since this year marks the country’s transition to cleaner emission norms and there has been a push from the government for easier adoption of electric mobility. Another ever-evolving industry in the automobile market is safety tech. India has already made ABS mandatory in most of its vehicles and other safety features like airbags. To better understand the future trends in car and two-wheeler safety technology, we spoke with Prashanth Doreswamy, Country Head India, Continental Corporation, Managing Director, Continental Automotive India, who gave us an insight into what all was a breakthrough for the manufacturer last year and what sort of evolution pattern is the Indian automobile sector expected to go through.
ABS is mandatory in two-wheelers above 125cc. What is the next step in two-wheeler safety tech?
The next Step in 2-Wheeler safety tech will be Emergency Brake Assist. Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) compensates for insufficient driver action on brakes. Drivers in emergency situations either apply insufficient pressure or release the brake too early. Not only does EBA address this problem, but it can also reduce stopping distances significantly. Continental is developing an Emergency Brake Assist which detects an imminent collision with a vehicle ahead or with an obstacle, warns the rider, and supports the rider during braking.
In addition, electronic driving aids such as traction control and “cornering ABS” have become a major selling point, particularly in the premium segment. Investment in these complex technologies, as well as the updated guidelines, show that both manufacturers and legislators are determined to set new standards in driving safety for motorized 2-Wheelers. Continental is taking these developments one step further by applying radar- and camera-based advanced rider assistance systems, the use of which is already established in cars, to motorcycles, and adapting these to meet the specific requirements of 2-Wheelers.
Currently, assistance programs for motorcycles focus on rear-end collisions, but will not remain restricted to this in the future.
What new technologies can we expect Continental to roll out in the Indian auto market in 2020?
At Continental, we have a range of solutions that can be future-ready and can be deployed in the market at any time. However, to deploy the same, the markets need to be ready – both in terms of infrastructure availability and demand.
(OcSM) Occupants Safety Monitoring technology is on the roadmap of Continental and in development. It is a valuable extension of today’s passive safety technologies and expected to be available around 2023 for the introduction into the safety systems of vehicles.
New functions, such as HMI (Human-Machine Interfaces), will gain popularity in the cockpit of the future: these will allow better collection and display of data for better driving experience and driver satisfaction.
Another technology from Continental is ADAS. With the biggest engineering presence in ADAS and experience with global markets, Continental is now collaborating with OEMs in India and actively contributing towards the Safety Regulations expected to be effective from 2023.
Now that we have electric cars retailing in the country and the government is taking stricter steps to make safety features mandatory, the automotive market is clearly evolving at a quicker pace than it did before. What kind of evolution pattern can we expect in Indian automobiles in 2020 and the years to come?
India is emerging as a focus market for airbags, Anti-lock Brake Systems (ABS) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with the increasing awareness and acceptance in the safety technology. The switch to BS-VI by itself is a move in the right direction. Continental has been supporting OEMs in India, to be ready with BS-VI vehicles in time.
Over the next few years, we can see the amount of electronic content per car increase. This should help offset the drop in volume to a certain extent. Also, the transition from fixed-function ECUs to software-defined ECUs would start.
While the market for connected vehicles in India is on the rise, the infrastructure and ecosystem need to go hand-in-hand. In the age of smartphones, an immediate impact of connected technologies will be the seamless integration of our phones to the vehicle Human Machine Interface (HMI) systems to minimize distraction while driving. Technological advancement with richer displays, natural language interaction and things like heads-up display aid in a better interface and lower distraction.
Industry 4.0 has been a buzzword in the year 2019 and will continue to be a focus in the coming years. Continental is continuously aiming to ensure smarter, more efficient production processes and practices. On the way to the smart factory, Continental is well advanced and already uses Big Data applications, cooperative robots, and automated transport robots. One example of this is we have deployed Collaborative Robots (COBOT), to work in a human-machine team environment.
Mandates on ESC and the autonomous emergency braking are likely to come into place starting 2022. Is the Indian traffic system ready for AEB and is Continental prepared with the tech?
In developed countries, electronic stability control (ESC), autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning, and other networked safety functions, have made a marked difference in reducing accidents. India is working to make Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) mandatory in cars by 2022-23 timeframe. Continental has begun localizing ABS and ESC systems in 2016, with product assembly at its Gurgaon plant, where they have completed over 2 million units already.
The production for Electronic Control Units (ECU) at its Bangalore plant was set up in January 2018. The same year we added two new assembly lines for ABS and ESC at our Gurgaon plant. We recently achieved a one-million milestone for producing ECUs for ABS and ESC at our Bangalore plant. Globally we have been supporting OEMs by offering proactive and predictive driver assistance, AEB. These milestones testify Continental’s expertise and preparedness to scale up localization when the legislation demands mandatory fitment of ESC and AEB.
Tell us about the technological breakthroughs Continental has had in the year 2019 (brake dynamics, in-cabin tech)
At Continental, we are working on technologies and solutions keeping in mind the future of mobility, which is inspired by four technology drivers safe, clean, intelligent and urban mobility.
eHorizon and Preview ESC Systems
To achieve a new level of safety on the way to Vision Zero, the vision of crash-free driving, Continental is now networking several well-established technologies. The Road Condition Observer, for example, uses the systems already present in the vehicle, such as the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and camera systems, to classify the road conditions as dry, wet, very wet (risk of aquaplaning), snow-covered or icy. Using an estimated friction coefficient based on this classification, it is possible to predict how well the tires will grip the respective section of the road. The Road Condition Observer continuously transmits the friction coefficient data in near-time to the Continental.cloud, where information on the friction coefficients of other vehicles as well as weather data, such as temperature and precipitation, are also collected. Also, in the cloud, eHorizon processes the data collected from the entire vehicle fleet with the aid of artificial intelligence and other technologies, which again increases the reliability of the predictions.
Continental uses artificial intelligence, for example, to create models that are able to detect road objects and predict arising hazardous situations. These models can react to changing conditions and use input and output data to adjust functions through learning tasks. Additionally, neural networks are used for image processing and object detection. This information from eHorizon is of fundamental importance for PreviewESC, an additional ESC function developed by Continental. As soon as eHorizon makes the data regarding the friction coefficient and curve radius of the road ahead available, PreviewESC compares this with the actual vehicle speed to determine whether the vehicle is, for example, traveling too fast to make it safely around the next bend.
Occupants Safety Monitoring technology (OcSM) is an innovative solution that enhances the vehicle’s passive safety system. OcSM monitors the environment with the help of a combination of sensors such as camera, data from seat sensors, etc. This creates a complex sensor fusion model, through which optimum deployment strategies for the restraint systems are spontaneously calculated for each occupant. For instance, the deployment of airbags can be timed by reading the driver and passenger positioning and optimize its protective effect. In an automated driving situation, the driver will essentially move from focusing on the road to something else, here is where OcSM will have a vital role to play by ensuring optimum restraint safety, based on cabin situation.
48-volt High Power
The 48-volt systems were previously known as mild or P0 hybrids. They involve relatively unobtrusive electrification of the powertrain. Fuel consumption is reduced mainly with the support of the combustion engine (boosting) during acceleration and the recovery of excess kinetic energy (recuperation) when the vehicle decelerates. In the latest stage of development, the electric motor was no longer placed in front of the combustion engine on the crankshaft, but behind it – between the combustion engine and transmission (P2 hybrid). This meant that fuel savings were able to increase and, in certain situations, such as driving through a 30 km/h speed limit zone, the vehicle could be driven using the electric motor alone. With the new 48-volt high-power technology, this hybrid system enables the same functionality as previous, full-hybrid vehicles. The key component here is a new, water-cooled electric motor, the peak output of which was doubled to 30 kW in comparison with that used previously. Electric-only driving is therefore possible up to a speed range of 80 to 90 km/h.
Ring catalyst turbocharger
Super-clean diesel and gasoline engine combined with the electric drive already help the climate today. Along with the drop in emissions that the electric motor brings, intelligent innovations also further enhance the efficiency of the combustion engine. This highly integrated combination of turbocharger and catalyst is a new arrival on the scene which offers additional benefits compared to separately installing the individual components. However, the ring catalyst turbocharger is only one element in a Continental technology portfolio that includes solutions for all powertrain configurations: software, hardware, control units, exhaust gas after-treatment, use of synthetic fuels, and electrification. After passing through the turbine, the exhaust gas flows into a conical mixing pipe enabling an almost ideal pressure recovery. At the end of this pipe, the exhaust mass flow is redirected and passed through the ring-shaped 3-way catalyst which surrounds the mixing pipe.
In conventional turbochargers, exhaust gases quickly expand as they leave the turbine, which causes fluid-dynamic losses and impacts efficiency. This is solved by the ring catalyst turbocharger, where the conical mixing pipe permits controlled expansion, leading to reduced backpressure. In addition, the exhaust gas from the wastegate is fed through an annular gap around the mixing pipe, facilitating low-loss mixing with the exhaust gas flow leaving the turbine impeller. As a result, the exhaust gas temperature distribution is homogeneous when it reaches the catalyst. This has a positive impact on both the efficiency and the service life of the catalyst.
Integrated Interior Platform (IIP)
As a high-performance computer, this comprehensive solution for software and hardware provides the basis for interaction between humans and vehicles in the connected cockpit of tomorrow – and at the highest level of quality. In its cockpit demonstrator, the technology company will show how the IIP combines various displays, such as the instrument cluster and the center console display, with Internet-based services to form a complete solution. The IIP is a milestone in the E/E architecture revolution, which is seeing in-car electronics move away from many individual control units to a few high-performance computers. Continental uses virtualization solutions for the IIP architecture that allow several operating systems with various security requirements to be operated simultaneously on a single computer.
Intelligent Glass Control
The Intelligent Glass Control solution is opening up whole new possibilities for greater comfort, safety and energy efficiency. Unprecedented glass quality and automatic dimming thanks to the new “liquid crystal” film technology, while the car window becomes a digital interface for a range of functions. With the new film technologies, panoramic sunroofs can be dimmed on command more effectively than ever before, sections of the windscreen can be tinted when the sun is low in the sky and the windows behind the B-pillar can be dimmed to provide more privacy on the rear seats. Windows can also be heated automatically without heating wires – and even be used as display surfaces. Intelligent Glass Control uses special films that are integrated into the glass and change their degree of translucency on the basis of electrical control signals.
Intelligent Street Lamps to connect beyond the vehicle
Intelligent street lamps are a key element in the development of a safe, clean and smart city. Transferring its automotive competency into the infrastructure of tomorrow’s cities, Continental’s Intelligent Street Lamp simplifies the management of lighting, while monitoring and analyzing the environment, traffic and parking information in smart cities. Using secure connectivity and sensors, Continental’s Intelligent Street Lamp solution enables remote light control as well as adaptive street lighting depending on surrounding traffic participants. Furthermore, the new portfolio provides remote maintenance such as over-the-air updates and performance monitoring. These features allow smart cities and operators to save energy and reduce costs by working more efficiently. The Intelligent Street Lamp is also a valuable source of data for future smart cities. Continental’s new Intelligent Street Lamp portfolio can improve the quality of life in tomorrow’s cities.
Driverless Robo-taxis will become an important part of mobility in urban centers, helping to reduce traffic congestion and increase efficiency. Driverless transport systems of this kind are still rare exceptions on our roads today. Small autonomous shuttle buses with room for several passengers – which also qualify as Robo-taxis. Continental has developed Robo-taxi called CUbE (Continental Urban mobility Experience). Many aspects of the technology used in the vehicle are based on the driver assistance systems and sensors like radar and camera, that are already installed in today’s serial production vehicles, but new technologies are also used, such as the laser sensor. Continental’s technology for driverless vehicles will be in production for the first time in French company EasyMile’s EZ10 autonomous shuttle. Continental has held a stake in this driverless vehicle manufacturer since 2017.
Inputs: Prashanth Doreswamy, Country Head India, Continental Corporation, Managing Director, Continental Automotive India
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