Paper by Dr. Werner Struth, President Chassis Systems Control" />

Mobility Solutions

Safety and assistance systems Paper by Dr. Werner Struth, President Chassis Systems Control

  • at the 60th Automotive Press Briefing in Boxberg, June 2011
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  • June 09, 2011
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press release

Ladies and gentlemen,

Wherever in the world people are asked what ideal road traffic means for them, the answers are the same. Apart from the lowest possible environmental impact, people want to see road traffic that is free of traffic jams and accidents. Achieving the objective of accident-free driving calls not only for appropriate infrastructure, but also for high-performance assistance and safety systems. As a company that has been active in this area for decades, Bosch is well aware that further development will be needed if we are to come anywhere near to the objective of zero accidents. For this reason, injury-free driving is the next milestone we have set for our Vehicle Motion and Safety unit, in which we have grouped all our activities associated with safety, comfort, and assistance.

Number of road deaths will continue to increase
Unfortunately, the present situation looks a lot different. Each year, according to the United Nations, 1.3 million people die in road accidents worldwide, and some 50 million are injured. Within ten years, the number of annual road deaths could rise to 1.9 million – a nearly 50 percent rise, driven mainly by the rapid growth in road traffic in the emerging countries. For the UN, this was reason enough to announce the “decade of action for road safety” in May this year. Its aim is to significantly reduce the forecast number of road deaths and injuries by 2020. In order to achieve this aim, an action plan has been drawn up defining concrete measures. To name just a few, these stretch from making the wearing of helmets mandatory for motorcyclists or creating separate sidewalks for pedestrians to fitting vehicles with the ESP® electronic stability program and motorcycles with the ABS antilock braking system. According to experts, if all these measures were taken, they could save five million lives and prevent 50 million severe injuries in the course of this decade.

True to its strategic imperative “Invented for life,” Bosch has been supplying products to make driving safer for nearly 100 years now. While these were bright headlights and warning horns in the early years, for the last 30 years or so they have been systems for active and passive safety. Bosch has developed some of these systems and made them ready for series production worldwide, in each case as the first supplier to do so: In 1978, there was ABS, the first electronically controlled antilock braking system, in 1981 the first electronic airbag control, and finally in 1995 the ESP® electronic stability program. The latter is currently second only to the seatbelt as an effective safety system. Our current range of crash-avoidance products is rounded off by radar-, ultrasound-, and video-based functions such as the predictive emergency braking system, the side view assist, lane departure warning systems, and the night vision system.

These new functions are based on data from sensors that sense the vehicle’s surroundings, as well as from other sources. We make these data available in a network that includes other vehicle domains, such as the powertrain and safety systems. These systems, chains of functional cause and effect, are extremely complex: first, we have to understand what role each function plays in safety, comfort, and driver assistance. This function then has to be translated into algorithms, and subsequently into software. Once this has been done, it can be brought to bear on the road via suitable electronics, mechanics, and hydraulics. Making this work calls for comprehensive understanding of functions and systems – something Bosch has like barely any other supplier worldwide.

In the years to come, we will continue to drive our business forward on the basis of innovation. On the one hand, there will be innovative products that make driving even safer and more comfortable by offering new functions. In other words, they will make drivers’ lives easier. On the other hand, there will be innovative developments that make existing systems more cost-effective, thus allowing them to be installed in low-price vehicles in emerging markets. After all, one thing is clear: only if safety technology is widely available can it make the contribution that is needed to injury-free and, ultimately, accident-free driving.

Product planning on the basis of accident research
When planning new safety functions, we evaluate data from international accident research. They show what kinds of accident are especially frequent. More importantly, they show what kinds of accident involve an especially great risk of injury or fatality. Finally, by looking at this “field of relevant accidents,” we derive the potential safety gain of each individual function.

Leaving differences of detail to one side, we can make the following fundamental statements:
  • The most frequent traffic accidents involving injury are accidents at road junctions and rear-end collisions, followed by accidents in which the vehicle unintentionally leaves its lane, frequently skidding as a result.
  • In the case of fatal accidents, skidding is frequently the main cause, followed by accidents at junctions and collisions with pedestrians.
With these types of accidents in mind, we can now derive functions that prevent accidents or mitigate their consequences. The ESP® electronic stability program is a prime example. It counteracts the vehicle’s skidding movements. In series production since 1995, it is being made mandatory by more and more countries.

Safety systems can prevent accidents
The first Bosch predictive emergency braking system debuted in the Audi A8 in 2010. It now also features in the Audi A7 and A6, as well as in the Volkswagen Touareg. The system warns the driver of an impending rear-end collision and supports him in braking. Should the system regard a collision as unavoidable, it automatically initiates emergency braking. According to our research, up to 72 percent of all rear-end collisions involving injuries and fatalities can be avoided with this system.

For dense traffic in city centers, we are expanding the emer-gency braking system’s range of functions. It will also support the driver at speeds below 30 kilometers per hour. A single radar sensor serves to detect the vehicle’s surroundings, while ESP® controls the emergency braking. If the system detects that the car is coming dangerously close to a moving or stationary vehicle in front, it triggers emergency braking with the aim of preventing the collision. If collision is unavoidable, however, the force of impact is at least weaker. This reduces the risk of injury. The expanded emergency braking system will go into series production this year in a mid-size car. The benefits of emergency braking systems that work at low speeds were analyzed by experts from the German insurance company Allianz in 2009. They found that if a system like this were installed in every car, this could prevent more than 500,000 minor accidents a year in Germany alone. In terms of repair costs, this would save 330 million euros.

Unintentional lane departure is a further frequent accident scenario. Functions that detect a road’s lane markings with a video camera can, in combination with other systems, give drivers guided support. According to our accident research, functions like these can help mitigate or avoid every twentieth accident involving injury or fatality in Germany, and in the U.S. many more. The lane departure warning system reacts as soon as the vehicle comes too close to the edge of its lane. Depending on the automaker’s preferences, it then gives a haptic, visual, or audible warning. The lane keeping support system goes one step further. Instead of warning drivers, it actively keeps vehicles in their lane. It corrects the vehicle’s direction of travel either by influencing steering or by lightly applying the brakes on one side of the vehicle. If the driver has used the turn signal before changing lane, then of course neither function will intervene. Our analysis of data from GIDAS, the German in-depth accident study database, suggests that the lane keeping support system can effectively prevent every fourth avoidable accident involving unintentional lane departure. If all vehicles in Germany had such a system on board, some 250 lives could be saved each year. A system based on Bosch sensors is already in series production at Audi.

Why do so many drivers stray from their lane? Usually, they are distracted for a brief moment, while at dusk and at night drowsiness can also play a role. Help can be provided here by a Bosch solution that is as simple as it is clever. The drowsiness detection system continuously monitors the signals from the steering-angle sensor. Studies show that micro-sleep is usually preceded by a typical steering behavior. If this behavior is detected, the system can warn drivers and urge them to take a break. What is especially attractive about this solution is that it is a purely software-based function, and thus can be integrated cost-effectively into a vehicle. Its benefit is shown by a study published in 2010 by the AAA, the American Automobile Association. It showed that 17 percent of all fatal accidents in the U.S. are attributable to over-tired drivers. The Bosch solution has been featured in the Volkswagen Passat since the end of 2010. Other models will soon follow this example.

In the years to come, automakers and suppliers will develop many other functions like these. Achieving this depends fundamentally on ever more powerful sensors to provide information about the vehicle’s surroundings.

Radar and video sensors delivering even greater performance
Radar sensors have an especially long range, and allow distance and speed to be measured exactly. The first generation made by Bosch started off as part of adaptive cruise control in 2000. Compared with this first generation, the current third generation of our long-range radar is an improvement in every respect. It is two-thirds smaller, yet delivers considerably greater performance. In addition, the first-ever use of silicon-germanium technology in such a sensor reduces cost significantly. With a range of up to 250 meters and an aperture angle of up to 30 degrees, the LRR3 is the optimum sensor for high-performance ACC systems and predictive emergency braking systems.
At the end of 2012, we will extend our portfolio to include a mid-range radar (MRR) sensor. Offering slightly reduced performance, it is even more cost-effective, with the result that systems based on it can increasingly be offered in the middle and compact class at an attractive price. The sensor’s maximum range is 160 meters and its maximum aperture angle is 45 degrees. This makes it suitable for ACC and emergency braking systems. A rear-end version of the MRR allows functions that warn of danger when changing lane or of passing vehicles when leaving a parking space. This new mid-range radar sensor operates like its long-range cousin in the 77 gigahertz frequency bandwidth, and is superior to the 24 gigahertz variants available in the market, while costing roughly the same:
  • It uses the frequency bandwidth that has been permanently allocated to automotive applications worldwide,
  • it is only roughly one-third the size of a typical 24 gigahertz sensor,
  • its object separation is up to three times more accurate, and
  • it can measure speed distance three to five times more accurately.
We are confident that this new sensor will play a major role in the wider dissemination of assistance systems. By 2015, for example, we expect that some 15 percent of all new vehicles in Europe will be equipped with predictive emergency braking and ACC systems.

Video sensors are the ideal complement to radar technology, since they offer a host of information. However, merging this sensor data calls for comprehensive expertise in all the relevant fields of sensor technology and image processing – and Bosch has this expertise. The data can be used as the basis for powerful algorithms which help to generate a very detailed “image” – an interpretation of the situation ahead of the vehicle. In our view, this is a must for automatic full emergency braking at speeds above 30 kilometers per hour. In the future, it will be possible to detect not only vehicles but also pedestrians and the direction they are moving in. In addition, the video data improve the ACC function. Movements across the line of travel can be detected sooner, so the system reacts more quickly, for example, when other vehicles overtake and cut into the driver’s lane ahead.

When our multi-purpose camera is used, further functions can be activated in parallel. These functions are based solely on an analysis of visual images. Since traffic signs and lanes can be identified, the currently valid speed limits, overtaking bans, and similar restrictions can be displayed in the cockpit. In addition, they make the series production of lane keeping and departure assistants possible. One Bosch solution for traffic sign recognition has featured in the Audi A8 since 2010. In this vehicle, the signals from the video camera are also used for the lane departure warning and adaptive light control. We anticipate that every tenth newly registered vehicle in Europe will be equipped with video sensors by as early as 2015.

Apart from cars, motorcycles are frequently also involved in accidents. In Europe, for example, every seventh road fatality is a motorcyclist, while in China and India, this figure is as much as one in four. In many cases, the antilock braking system offers an effective remedy. Bosch launched a new generation in 2011. This is significantly more compact than all the systems so far available in the market. Encouragingly, it is in great demand from motorcycle manufacturers. Its small size and reduced cost allow it to be used even in smaller motorcycles and scooters. In 2010, the European Commission proposed that as from 2017 ABS should become mandatory equipment for all motorcycles with an engine displacement of greater than 125 cubic centimeters.

Driving in the future – even safer, even more comfortable
To sum up, over the next few years, and on the basis of new sensor generations and the networking of their data, Bosch will offer many new safety and comfort functions, and make them more widely available by reducing their cost. It will be possible to have clearly defined driving maneuvers performed completely automatically, such as parking or bumper-to-bumper driving on congested roads. In addition, car-to-car communication or communication between cars and stationary information sources will allow warnings to be issued about icy roads, accidents, and traffic jams that loom behind curves in the road. It will also allow optimum routes to be planned.

Ladies and gentlemen,
The objective set by the UN is ambitious. But if all the players work toward it, it need not remain a vision. Instead, it can become reality. Bosch will continue to work actively to increase road safety, also in the future. We will develop new functions, while continuously improving existing ones in order to reduce their cost further. Year for year, this will bring us a step closer to our objective of “safety for everyone.”

Thank you for your attention.

RF00114 - June 09, 2011

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