Reading briefly into some accident-related data statistics, some surprising aspects regarding the safety of humans in a vehicle (or around it) become visible: At speeds above 30 kmph, the risk of an injury increases drastically without a passive safety system. According to a Continental Mobility Study, a car driver in an industrialized nation spends an average of 23,000 hours, or around 2.5 years, behind the wheel in the course of a lifetime. Around the globe, people love their cars. The growing number of vehicles worldwide results in growing volumes of road traffic. While, with the introduction of safety technologies, the number of people who die in road accidents is steadily decreasing in industrialized nations, the numbers in emerging and developing countries remain consistently high. The report further reports that every six seconds, somewhere in the world someone is either killed or injured in a road accident, raising the importance of the ongoing introduction of safety technologies in vehicles.
Modern vehicles are equipped with passive safety systems and driver assistance systems (active safety systems) such as, for example, Anti-lock Brake Systems (ABS) or Electronic Stability Control (ESC) which help to avoid accidents and save lives. Active safety systems are constantly monitoring the vehicle environment through sensors to avoid imminent collisions, whereas passive safety systems protect occupants directly before, during and after a crash. The combination of active and passive safety systems in an integrated approach makes mobility safer and helps to protect lives of occupants and road users.
WHO fears that the number of deaths could rise to as high as 1.9 million by 2020. Road accidents are already the number one cause of death for 15- to 29-year-olds. Half of all fatalities occur in Brazil, Cambodia, China, Egypt, India, Kenya, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, and Vietnam. Especially India has, unfortunately, one of the highest road fatalities in the world. One of the global safety technology leaders is the German vehicle component supplier Continental. In order to get an insight into the technical roadmap for safety technologies and their market potential, we have spoken to Dr. Bernhard Klumpp, Executive Vice President, Business Unit Passive Safety & Sensorics at Continental.
Continental in India has a range of integrated active and passive safety technologies that support vehicle dynamics and add to the overall car safety. “We decided to bring more products to the Indian market. Wheel Speed Sensors, which are an important sensor element for electronic brake systems, have already been introduced for years - and in 2016, we introduced airbag systems into the market” explained Dr. Klumpp.
“We believe that the Indian market is developing at a faster pace. Therefore, we bring also more safety technologies to the Indian market to reach our Vision Zero – the vision of accident-free driving. Safety should be standardized across all vehicles irrespective of the price of the car”, he further added.
Radar-based car safety systems that activate features like emergency braking, lane-change assist, blind spot detection and adaptive cruise control are currently not available in India. The spectrum required for these radars to work has not been standardized by the Indian government. "We cannot enforce legislation as that is the government’s responsibility. Our task is to support the market and inform the public about the safety technologies. We have done this in other countries and we are doing it in India, too. I don’t believe that all can be done by legislation immediately as the overall framework takes time”, said Dr Klumpp.
Continental is investing heavily in R&D in India and has a large R&D centre in Bengaluru. Therefore, the R&D workforce has also grown in the last two years. With India taking a strong stance on car safety the company believes there is a strong growth opportunity in the country. Continental invested in Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) about 20 years ago and its ADAS business unit is now in profits with the changing automobile dynamics in Asia. Expertise in the field of automated driving, high-resolution environmental sensor systems have helped the company to be pushing the Indian market.
The other global key trends are the implementation of autonomous and self-driving cars. Continental is a leader in sensor technologies which play a crucial role in automated vehicles. The company strongly believes that automated vehicles will help in bringing down overall road accidents globally. In India, the traffic movement needs to be regularized before considering self-driving cars.