Mobility Solutions

The future of driving Safety Information Assistance Dr. Rainer Kallenbach
Executive Vice President Sales, Automotive Electronics
Robert Bosch GmbH

  • Speech at the 58th International Automotive Press Briefing June 2007 in Boxberg
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  • June 15, 2007
  • Mobility Solutions
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press release

Ladies and Gentlemen,

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. This is accompanied by a corresponding increase in the number of inexperienced and elderly drivers. In addition to the goal of further reducing energy consumption and the emissions associated with it, it is vital to further improve active and passive vehicle safety. The cars of the future will offer drivers greater support and more information. And, despite or indeed because of the increasing volume of traffic, they will relieve the burden on the driver.

Many passive and active systems already provide greater in-car safety. 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. These systems the seatbelt, the antilock braking system (ABS), the traction control system (TCS), the airbag, and the electronic stability program (ESP®) are already well-established. In Germany alone, the number of people killed in traffic accidents fell from 19,200 to around 5,000 in the period from 1970 to the present despite the fact that the population, the number of vehicles, and total mileage driven have increased considerably over the same period.

A study by DaimlerChrysler provides particularly striking evidence of the safety benefits of ESP®. When Mercedes introduced the Electronic Stability Program as standard in all passenger cars, the number of these newly registered vehicles involved in accidents caused by their drivers fell by more than 40 percent.

High market penetration in industrialized countries
Active and passive systems have already achieved high market penetration in the industrialized countries on account of their marked contribution to improving safety. They are now so cost-effective that demand is growing in the emerging markets as well.

At Bosch, we are driving this development forward worldwide. And we are working intensively on developing new technologies including driver assistance systems. We are working at full speed on developing the "sensitive car". This car will soon be able to see what is happening all around it thanks to sensors and ultra-high-performance electronic 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. They use this information to instruct, relieve, and support the driver. They 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. 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.

Semiconductor chips key components for increasing safety
The key to realizing functions of this kind are intelligent semiconductor chips. These have led to innovations not only in cell phones, digital cameras or computers, but in the car too, where highly integrated circuits are key components for safety, reliability, and comfort. However, the standards that the chips used specifically in the automotive electronics industry have to satisfy are many times higher than for chips in the consumer electronics sector. For this reason, we manufacture our own key components for automotive electronics. Our advances in microcontrollers 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. With this in mind, we are investing around 600 million euros in a new semiconductor factory at Reutlingen in Germany.

We already have many pioneering systems with environment sensors in our portfolio. Ultrasonic sensors monitor the car's immediate environment up to a distance of four meters, video cameras provide a medium range overview of up to 80 meters in front of the car, while radar sensors provide a long-range overview of up to 200 meters in front of the car.

We use these "senses" to develop other driver assistance systems with new functions and even better performance. We network these systems so that they can exchange information among themselves. This allows us to implement new functions such as automatic emergency braking, or the parking assistant that can maneuver itself into parking spaces. Premium vehicles are our major field of innovation. It is in this class that all these functions first become standard equipment. However, highly effective assistance functions such as electronic parking assistants are also enjoying increasing customer acceptance and being fitted in a greater number of vehicles in the middle and compact classes.

Identifying danger with video camera systems
The video camera teaches the car how to see. Analyses show that accidents are twice as likely to happen when it is dark than when it is light, even though only a fifth as many cars are on the road at night. The main cause is the reduction in a driver's field of vision during the hours of darkness. This is where our night-vision system can help. It has been selling successfully in Mercedes luxury-class vehicles since the end of 2005. Infrared high-beam headlights illuminate an area of more than 150 meters in front of the vehicle. The beam is invisible to the human eye and therefore does not blind oncoming traffic. Our video camera can pick up this infrared image and high-performance electronics convert the signals into an image which is visible to the human eye. The central display enables the driver to identify dangerous situations more quickly, and he has more time to react. The night-vision system increases the driver's safety.

The video camera can also do much more besides. As computing methods become more intelligent and circuits more powerful, it is possible to interpret the driving situation and provide completely new functions. In future, the video image will show both the lane demarcations and stationary or moving objects on the road ahead whether by night or day. In this way, we are making electronics so intelligent that they automatically identify dangers on the road and warn the driver. Such dangers include cyclists who suddenly appear out of a side street, or a ball that rolls onto the road with a child running after it. The system responds more quickly and reliably than the driver during day and night and also in poor weather conditions. In its first versions, it sounds an alarm or displays a visual warning signal. Then, as further technical advances are made, it will also be able to brake automatically. By 2010, our developers will have developed the camera and electronics to the extent needed for these functions, and will combine them with highly intelligent image-processing technology to develop the first systems to series production.

The video system alerts the driver to inattentiveness
The video camera uses sophisticated electronics and software to read the course of the road ahead. After all, it is crucial to warn the driver when he is moving out of his lane unintentionally which is the frequent result of a moment's lapse in concentration and can end in an accident. To realize this function, a system connects the video camera signals with those of the steering-angle sensor. If the path of the lane and the steering angle do not correspond and the driver has not used his indicator to signal a lane change, the electronics identify a dangerous situation and issue an alarm. Either a vibration is used to warn the driver or he is guided back on to the right lane by a gentle turning of the steering wheel. Bosch is currently preparing this additional function as part of its moves to develop the sensitive car. It is set to enter series production in 2010.

A system that detects danger can also recognize and interpret traffic signals automatically. How often do drivers fail to notice the rapid succession of road signs they pass? How often are they distracted from reading them by traffic? Was the last speed limit "60" or "80"? In future, a quick glance at the display will suffice. Alternatively, the system will be able to warn the driver when the car is exceeding the speed limit depending on automakers' requirements for the model in question. We will have this function ready for release onto the market by 2009.

Essential interface between man and technology
Be it the display, alarm or noticeable intervention in the driving maneuver the interface between the driver and these technologies is crucially important. We can use several of the human senses to enable communication between technology and driver.

· We serve sight with displays be they displays on the instrument panel with programmable interface, or head-up displays that show information on the windshield.

· We use other technologies to trigger the sense of touch. These include slight adjustments to 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 technologies also make use of hearing, through warning tones or sounds such as those produced when you drive over lane demarcations.

No matter what the communication channel, it is essential that the information is prepared and prioritized collectively. 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.

The driver can override the technology at any time
Yet however much the systems relieve the burden on the driver, the driver will always be able to override the system function and take control. This is the case, for example, with the automatic bumper-to-bumper driving provided by our Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) technology Stop&Go, with the support provided by our lane departure warning system, or with our parking assistant, which maneuvers the car into the parking space more or less autonomously.

In 2006, we launched the equally compact and cost-effective ACC Stop&Go system on the market with the second generation of our ACC sensor. At all speeds down to a standstill, the system automatically maintains a safe distance from the car in front.

The system also supports the driver until the car stops. The driver receives a visual and acoustic signal to inform him when the car in front moves off again. If he wants to follow the car in front, he simply has to tap the ACC control element or briefly depress the gas pedal. The car then follows the car in front again. Here too, the driver can intervene at any time and accelerate or brake the car at any time. Analyses show that cars travel more constantly through traffic when ACC is used properly. As a result, the car uses less fuel and produces less CO2 and the driver saves money.

Electronics warns about risk of collisions
We not only use information from the radar sensor for the speed-dependent distance control system ACC, but also for Predictive Collision Warning. If the car nears the car in front at a high speed without any reaction from the driver, then the system reacts. It warns the driver about the risk of a collision. The warning is an acoustic or visual signal, a brief jerk on the brakes or a pull on the reversible seat-belt pretensioner. The type of warning depends on the automotive manufacturer's concept. This leaves the driver with sufficient time to take evasive action or make an emergency stop to avoid a rear-end collision. Our Predictive Collision Warning has been on the market in the Audi Q7 since mid-2006.

By 2009, we will have developed an even more cost-effective and powerful version of the radar sensor for series production. It will be scalable and provide a larger overview of the area in front of the car. In this way, we are also developing the mid-range and compact vehicle class market for the radar sensor and its functions. At the same time, we are looking beyond passenger vehicle applications and supplying our systems to the manufacturers of heavy commercial vehicles via our partner Knorr Bremse. We provide increased safety for all classes of vehicle.

The "virtual deformation zone" for the car
We see the greatest upcoming development in the combination of radar and video sensors. It will enable us to realize the Predictive Emergency Brake function. Our analyses of rear-end collisions show that the driver fails to react at all in half of all accidents. However, if the system predicts that an unavoidable collision is about to occur and the driver is not reacting in spite of all the warnings, the system automatically triggers the emergency brake. Even if the accident remains unavoidable, this helps to reduce the severity of the collision. The accident is less serious and there is a lower risk of injury. In this way, our developers are creating a "virtual deformation zone" for the car.

By combining video and radar, our systems are reliable enough to detect whether the accident is genuinely unavoidable or not. Accident researchers expect these predictive safety systems to reduce the number of fatalities from accidents by 35 percent. We plan to introduce this automatic emergency brake into series production in 2009.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
We devote a large part of our investment in research and development to systems that make vehicles safer to drive. To do so, we optimize the functions of tried-and-tested technologies such as ABS or ESP® and make them more convenient and cost-effective. The new functions bring additional safety and are gradually introduced into all classes of vehicle. We are working flat out in order to make the vision of accident-free driving as much of a reality as possible.

Curriculum Vitae Dr. Rainer Kallenbach

RF70408 - June 15, 2007

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