BADEN-BADEN, Germany Traditional issues such as reliability and architectural complexity took a back seat at this year's Congress on Electronic Systems for Vehicles here as developers instead focused on innovation in areas like electronic braking and steering systems and emerging hybrid drives.
"We’ve got quality down pat,” noted conference chairman Wolfgang Runge, CEO of ZF Lenksysteme. “Now we’re zeroing in on innovation.”
One goal is “strategy-enabled” solutions such as electronic braking and steering systems. Hybrid drives are also a top developer priority as fuel prices soar.
Continental CEO Hubertus von Grünberg sent a strong signal in his keynote that the Germany auto industry will embrace current international development trends. "There is no doubt in our mind that hybrid drives are the wave of the future,” he said. “But we first have to determine which type of hybrid drive is optimal.”
Along with fuel economy, hybrid drives are regarded as enablers of other technological innovations such as electronic steering, a pivotal component of drive-by-wire solutions since they require 42 volts of onboard current rather than the conventional 12 to 14 volts.
For example, air-conditioning systems controlled by cellphone activation, would require substantial onboard storage capacity for electrical energy, which is also a key element of hybrid drives.
Energy managment based on hybrid drives was also a hot topic here. Several presentations dealt with onboard energy network configurations and device prioritization. Siemens VDO’s Paul Boucharel presented an energy-management solution employing criteria similar to those used on stock exchanges, whereby a hypothetical “price” regulates the power-consumption to power-generation ratio. Boucharel said the system reduced fuel consumption in a test vehicle, albeit at the expense of comfort.
Safety remains a priority. Vehicle electronics previously were deployed to mitigate the effects of an accident. The industry is now focused on using these technologies for accident prevention. Deployed solutions range from lane departure warning systems to braking assistance systems. More advanced accident prevention technologies include image processing solutions that detect obstacles and support driver responses to them. Audi’s photonic mixer devices (PMDs) use of image capture and distance measurement technologies for collision avoidance.
Ronald Medford of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, proposed a different approach whereby vehicles would establish a collision-avoidance radio connection at intersections. Medford proposed that a 5.9-GHz communication infrastructure be established to support the system.