PORTLAND, Ore. In-car systems that warn drivers of road hazards like taking a curve too fast have been developed in a collaborative agreement between STMicroelectronics and Nokia subsidiary Navteq.
The hybrid system embeds GPS in automobiles with or without navigation map displays so that even low-end models can warn drivers of upcoming hazards. Navteq databases feeding ST's GPS-based chips compare a car's current speed to a safe speed for upcoming curves and either issue a verbal warnings, vibrate the steering wheel, flash a warning light or reduce speed.
Similar warnings can be issued to adaptive cruise controls that prevent collisions with automobiles, reduce speed automatically on highway exit ramps, limit speeds in urban areas and warn of obscured traffic lights over upcoming hills. Navteq's electronic-horizon database provides the context for ST's chips, which generate the warnings.
More advanced functions are provided on some versions of ST's chips for advanced automotive assistance systems, including the use of Navtez's slope information to automatically turn headlights up or down to match the grade of the road or turn them into curves for increased visibility. The slope information will also be fed to the engine controller to help select the most efficient gear for fuel economy.
The credit-card sized module developed by ST is compatible with existing controller-area networks. The chip cores are also being integrated into other sensors and electronic control units to eliminate the need for standalone systems on some vehicles.