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  1. Analysis
June 19, 2013

June 2013 management briefing: active safety and driver assistance systems (1)

Active safety systems and driver assistance technologies are a high-growth area of the automotive business. Global OE fitment levels for driver assistance systems (DAS) are forecast to rise sharply, leading to improved safety and an enhancement of the driver experience. Ultimately, the systems arriving now are part of the advancing technology frontier that will lead to the autonomous car. This month we share some of the latest developments in active safety systems, as monitored, analysed and reviewed in our dedicated real-time QUBE research service.

Active safety systems and driver assistance technologies are a high-growth area of the automotive business. Global OE fitment levels for driver assistance systems (DAS) are forecast to rise sharply, leading to improved safety and an enhancement of the driver experience. Ultimately, the systems arriving now are part of the advancing technology frontier that will lead to the autonomous car. This month we share some of the latest developments in active safety systems, as monitored, analysed and reviewed in our dedicated real-time QUBE research service.

Bosch’s vision of automated driving 

Bosch’s engineers are developing solutions for automated driving on the motorway. This field of development includes combining adaptive cruise control with the lane keeping assist function, with a motorway pilot as the final aim. Bosch expects these electronic chauffeurs to be market ready by 2020.

At a press conference in Boxberg, Germany in June 2013, Bernd Bohr, chairman of the Bosch Automotive Group, said: “In our view, to make the vision of automated driving a reality, we must safely and reliably integrate upcoming functions – which rely on the interplay of sensors, actuators, and control units – into the vehicle’s overall system. We are particularly strong when it comes to systems integration, and we already have two teams working on this. Our Palo Alto team is responsible for developing functions, and our Abstatt team is in charge of systems development. The progress that needs to be made can be grouped into four fields of development: 

  • First, we require highly efficient methods to ensure security and reliability, including methods originally used in the aviation industry.
  • Second, we require a concept for sensors that enables even more precise 3D environment recognition.
  • Third, the electronics architecture must be backed up better, for instance with dual bus systems and continuous checks on the plausibility of sensor data.
  • Fourth, maps of the vehicle’s surroundings must be precise down to the last ten centimetres, and they must contain far more information. Moreover, they must be continuously updated, on an hourly basis or even every minute.

Such up-to-the-minute maps can only be achieved if vehicles continuously share information on their surroundings with one another. This can include information about slippery roads or construction zones, for instance. In other words, automatic driving also has to be connected driving. Many of the functions of the future are only possible with car-to-car communication. For an intersection assistant to work, at least 50 percent of the vehicles in flowing traffic have to be sharing data with each other.

“However, there is one thing that we must avoid: drivers themselves must not be overloaded with information. Without simple operation, there can be no automated driving. Here, too, Bosch has set the standard. We have developed a driver information system for General Motors that can be controlled by natural voice input – drivers can speak as freely as they would with other passengers in the car. Cadillac was the first to offer this system, and Chevrolet, Buick, and Opel have followed suit. In addition, we are encouraging the spread of head-up displays – with a solution that does not require specially coated windshields, for example. As a result, solutions in which navigation arrows appear directly in the driver’s field of vision will also be affordable for middle-class vehicles. By the end of the year, our solution for compact vehicles will be going into series production. In 2013, only about 500,000 newly registered vehicles around the world will be equipped with head-up displays, but we expect the figure to rise to 3.6 million by 2016. Such interfaces have the same effect as the assistance systems of the future: they make driving less of a strain.”

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Driver Assistance Systems trickle down with Nissan

Nissan has announced that it is to include advanced safety systems on the new Note and is claiming that it is first-in-segment.

Described as the Nissan Safety Shield, the company claims that it is the first to include such systems – blind spot warning, lane departure warning and moving object detection as well as Nissan’s ‘around view monitor’ – on a small car.

Radar-based safety technologies such as advance collision warning and blind-spot detection are becoming commonplace as optional equipment on new C-segment vehicles.

This announcement from Nissan chimes with our interviews with TRW and Ficosa. While we have seen multi-function cameras on the high-end and medium segment cars for some time, such technology is indeed permeating down to the low-end in Europe. 

An executive from TRW told us: “Multi-function cameras have already penetrated down to mass market C-segment vehicles in Europe, and are expected to migrate further downwards in the next five years, potentially driven by EuroNCAP  and future regulations. Obviously the A and B segments are the most price-sensitive, but at the same time smaller and lighter vehicles that are more vulnerable in a crash can also benefit the most from crash avoidance technologies, and OEMs could potentially use this as a safety differentiator in this segment.”

We also talked with Ficosa around this area. Just looking back, say 3-4 years ago at what was predicted in terms of the application of camera-based technologies, those predictions have come true in terms of the pace of technology permeating down the car segments. An executive from Ficosa told us: “In the meantime, we are seeing low- and mid-class cars are equipped with ADAS and especially with camera systems, e.g. the VW Golf is offered with a choice of 12 ADAS systems.  The legislation is also pushing in the same direction, e.g. EU-NCAP.”

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WE ASKED TRW…

Driver assistance technologies are evolving rapidly.  Just looking back, say 3-4 years ago at what was predicted in terms of the application of camera-based technologies, how has that now played out in Europe and North America?

We would characterise the uptake of camera technologies today as behind the predictions of a few years ago, lagging more in North America than Europe initially; the DAS market was just beginning to take off as the recession started, which adversely impacted consumer demand for these technologies for a number of years.

However, these technologies are now taking off in a big way in both markets with the introduction of cameras in more mainstream vehicles. As larger, and in particular global platforms launch with cameras we will start to see the market growth predicted previously. This is being driven by changes in NCAP, again led by Europe but expected to become prominent in the USA as well, and by other influencers such as the USA’s Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), NHTSA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) – all who are calling for or taking a very serious look at potential legislation of camera-based technologies (which have been mandated for commercial vehicles in Europe for Lane Departure Warning [LDW] and Automatic Emergency Braking [AEB]).

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