Vehicles now seem more comfortable and easy to deal with, just like our mobile phones and their applications. I’ve always felt that cars do not have to look like a plumbing project with intake manifold, coolant hoses, fuel lines and exhaust pipes. From what I’ve seen at Auto Expo ’14, things are finally starting to improve with the robust growth of smart and electric vehicles (EVs), with their drive-by-wire systems, electric motors, generators, batteries and fuel cells.
In fact, the continued merging of functions of various electronic systems in a car have led to the current scenario where a car is more of a connected platform than one element in an internet of things.
Major Technology Trends
Technology has strengthened its base to help automotive sector evolve both its electrical and convention vehicles, marking Auto Expo 2014 as the witness.
One of the most popular aspects has been in connectivity, starting from Vehicle-to-Vehicle interaction and Human-Vehicle interaction to Vehicle-to-Road interaction. Even Vehicle-to-Fuel interaction seems to be making a remarkable change with the size of the batteries changing along with its composition.
Mr. Praveen Ganapathy, Director, Business Development, Texas Instruments (India) says, “The Global Automotive Human Machine Interface (HMI) technology has seen popularity with industrial automation, however it is also entering the automobile industry. Some of the advanced HMI deployments include, advanced human-machine interface (HMI) for vehicle interior products, like 3D graphics in vehicles for infotainment systems.”
We are also seeing the advent of haptics, touch, gestures and voice commands in HMI apart from technologies like HUD (Heads Up Display) and curved infotainment display panels based on DLP technology.
A technological enhancement to the vehicle to sensor interaction that provides three different types of parking and manoeuvring systems like basic park pilot (PP) system that comprises of a special PP ECU and Ultrasonic sensors (USS), Rear View Camera (RVC) and Combined System viz RVC with USS. The RVC and the USS takes care of the suitable space and intimates the driver within fraction of seconds. The parking assistant then calculates the optimum path into the space, the necessary steering movements and the number of manoeuvres needed. Hyundai’s 2014 Fluidic Verna that was showcased at Auto Expo ’14 is an example of the camera based manoeuvring, with a combination of RVC with a display on ECM and a Rear Parking Sensor.
Smartphone integration through apps
It is a clever and perfect device vehicle link with the use of an app. It ensures safe and reliable in-car use. It bridges the link with the customers enabling car manufacturers to link to customer smartphones, thus opening up a whole new avenue of direct marketing channels to selectively address their customers. The manufacturers of this solution ensure the availability of a wide variety of popular apps like the most frequently used media player, maps, calendar, emergency calling facility, etc. This is future concept for Ford Fiesta 2014 that would be available as “SYNC”.
Google is currently working on a project to develop the technology for autonomous cars. These cars would be self-driven and would not require any driver. The car would have Google’s robotic car technology incorporated in with a LIDAR (laser radar) system. The range finder at the top of the car would allow it to generate a detailed 3D map of the surrounding thus allowing the car to be self driven.
This is a software-based car called as Google Chauffeur. Government in few countries have allowed the on road testing of this car recently. Although Hi-Tech Robotic Systems came up with a Robotic car this year that was showcased at Auto Expo, India. The outer design of the car is not different from any other car but then the strategies,components and design aspects and the features (apart from being a driver-less car) are yet to be revealed. This Robotic car was a star traction at the defence Expo 2014 where the major concern was the upcoming technologies in the field of defense.
Advanced Head-up displays (HUD)
An effective means for less vision shift and reduced workload stress for the drivers. The HUDs display useful driving information on the windshield along with a functional control commander. The drivers can operate the air conditioner, audio system, and the other functions in the vehicle from the control commander that is installed close to the steering wheel, while they view the information displayed on the windshield. Tata Motors comes up brings the Connect Next concept that would have an HUD with augmented navigation.
Adaptive Remote Start
This allows the car to be started even when the driver is more than 50 yards away because of the presence of two remote transmitters.
Advanced Automotive Infotainment
Infotainment is not just related to information or to entertainment; it is a combination of both of these including multimedia in a single module. They offer AM/FM or satellite radio, DC/DVD player for music and video, navigation system, data and multimedia ports (USB, Bluetooth, line in, line out, video in) as well as general and vehicle status information. For all this, our vehicle’s dashboard becomes the base, so far it has been the only media to help us connect with the infotainment section. Now imagine how wonderful it would be if we are able to connect our smart phone with the dashboard of the vehicle and use its applications along with the calling facility without even looking at the smart phone or imagine the HUD (head-up displays). These are just few examples, there are many such technologies that we never imagined however would be within the reach of our hands soon.
Electronic Stability program (ESP)
It is an active safety technology that assists the driver to keep the vehicle on an intended path thus avoiding any accidents. It stabilizes the vehicle and reduces the risk of skidding. It is connected to a microcomputer that monitors the signals from the EPS sensor and checks 25 times a second to see if the driver’s steering input corresponds to the actual direction in which the vehicle is moving.
Interactive Surface Console
It is an innovative multi passenger Infotainment hub with a series of touchscreens under a continuous panel of transparent acrylic glass. It is in conjunction to a secure in-car Wi-Fi network that allows the passengers to connect and share experiences with each other and the outside world via social media. The touchscreens and the intuitive user interface allows the passengers to flick forwards and rearwards between themselves from front to rear.
Online Multimedia System
It features an internet browser that combines all telephone, audio and navigation functions. It provides free navigation updates and the voice control operation along with bluetooth connectivity. SKYMON, Digital tracking system, one of the industries that participated at Auto Expo Components this year came up with the real time GPS tracking device. It collects data from various sensors installed on the vehicle, process and send operational parameters of the vehicle to the server. It allows collection of a wide variety of sensor to allow the monitoring of fuel consumption, fueling volume and fuel draining control.
Intelligent Light System
A combination of LED technology with adaptive high beam assist is a combination of five functions that are motorway mode, country mode, cornering light function, enhanced fog lamps and active light. In any driving situation, it ensures the best possible on road illumination, automatically.
Fully Networked Latch system
Electronic Access Solution (EAS) is an increased security in vehicles with the elimination of physical key management and improving access control via audit trails and remote monitoring. One of the representative from Southco, at the Expo, discussed the evolvement of the basic control system to a fully networked solution that can be monitored remotely.
Intelligent drive system
BMW India this year came up with an intelligent driving system called as the xDrive that reacts in fraction of a second. It analyzes data from the on-board electronics (sprrd, stearing angle and torque output along with other key features) while one drives and calculates if vehicle can follow the wish of the driver or if it threatens to overstear or understear thus preventing the vehicle from swerving.
|Brands||Models||Price||New Technology Associated|
|BMW||3 Series Gran Turismo||INR 42,75,000*||1. Electronic vehicle immobiliser and crash sensor|
2. BMW condition based system (Intelligent maintenance system)
3. Park Distance control (both rear and front)
4. HiFi Loudspeaker
|MINI||Cooper S||INR 3,150,000*||1. Bluetooth Hands free interface|
2. On-board computer
3. Park Distance control (rear)
|FORD||All New Fiesta||INR 747,843*||1. Electronic Power Assisted|
2. Voice Control
3. Electronic Stability Program (ESP)
|Mercedes Benz||CLS||1. COMAND APS|
2. Hands free call
3. Media Transfer Protocol
4. Intelligent Lighting system
|Datsun||Datsun GO||INR 400,000||1. Smart phone dock station.|
|Tata Motors||Tata Zest||INR 700,000*||1. Touchscreen Infotainment system|
2. Automatic Climatic Air Conditioning
|Audi||A3||INR 2,000,000*||1. Two zone climatic model|
2. Electronic Stability Program (ESP)
3. Anti lock breaking system
|Honda||Jazz||INR 756,000*||1. Touchscreen system with navigation|
|Renault||Clio||INR 700,000*||1. LED daytime running lights|
2. Keyless entry
|Chevrolet||Trax||INR 950,000*||1. Bluetooth Audio Streaming|
2. Smart phone connectivity through Smart Radio
Advent of Eco-Friendly Vehicles
Adhering to the current requirements of safe driving, government all over the world is planning for an eco-friendly route and an evolution of an eco-friendly driving guideline.
In case of the hybrid vehicles, the in-car navigation system is available along with the eco-friendly functions. Electric vehicles (EVs) brings forward a very new experience with no fuel cost while idling and the energy regeneration possibility during deceleration, because of its energy management from single energy source.
EVs have several advantages over the other vehicles which includes zero emissions, quiet interior, low noise impact on the environment, performance of acceleration due to maximum torque that is available from start-up.
As the other vehicles, EVs too have some demerits like long charging time which can be overcome with the use of replaceable batteries like any other toy at home. The concept of replaceable batteries is soon to be implemented in the commercial vehicles though it would take a longer time to get implemented in the private cars.
EVs use efficiency map to represent the relationship between motor torque and revolution speed so as to improve power consumption by traveling in the most energy efficient condition. The amazing thing with the use of communication modules in EVs, is that information regarding the charge conditions and the charge stations can be easily confirmed remotely with use of just a cell phone or a PC. Owing to the ability of getting charged at home, these types of vehicles can be considered as one of the home’s electric appliance, which has the content storage and fixed point network usage facility because of sensors. There is going to be another addition to the EVs in future with the use of solar panels and wind power as the charging sources, which will decrease the charging insecurities and popularize these types of vehicles in the coming days.
I am not sure if all of us still remember the launch of Electric rickshaws in Delhi, in the year 2010. However, today we see many other electric vehicles like electric trains, electric cars, electric rickshaws and electric scooter on road everywhere. The amazing thing is the variety of shapes and colors these vehicles are present in and the possibility of modification of the interiors as per our choice and consideration.
“There are a number of additions to the range of EVs currently available that are completely manufactured in India like electric Commodo, a reverse triac (two wheels in the front and one at the back), the Vintage cars like two-seater Grand, 6-seater Royale and Electric Carriage that redefines the look of the electric cars. So this makes people realize that the electric cars can also be beautiful and can be used in the way it has not been used before” says Simran Kaur, Head of Sales, Speedways Electric.
Silicon Advances Help In Their Own Way
The tools, modules, use of more electronic components as well as the softwares act as the drivers for the building of smart technologies in the vehicles. Today we use more and more sensors along with the ECUs in the different parts of the cars to make it work efficiently. Cameras also play an important role in many of these operations in the same way as the sensors do. Parking sensors and ultrasonic sensors are amongst the few of the popular components used in cars for safe driving and parking experiences. The other components used are the actuators, the SoCs (system on chips), MCUs (Micro controllers) etc. The SoCs have enabled very advanced infotainment with cloud connectivity, driver assistance and telematics systems that were hitherto not possible due to cost, performance or power dissipation constraints. The addition of these components not only provides a greener and safer driving experience but also adds fun to it.
Renesas Electronics has come with a new microcontroller family for automotives that allows high performance and ultra low power consumption. It supports Ethernet along with CAN, LIN and FlexRay to support both internal body communication and infotainment system for the vehicles.
We all know that the integration of all these technologies and components brings more challenges and requires a series of testing criteria. Especially in case of Electric Vehicles various computer programs are used as the testing tools. A few of these softwares are ADVISOR, PSAT, etc with built in optimization feature that can automatically size the components of the powertrain that are subject to be selected based on performance and are user specific. They can also be used to select suitable parameters of the controller in order to minimize emissions maximize the fuel economy.
Another aspect is the growing use of multiphysics tools for the thermal regulation of the power electronics components. Vineet Dravid, MD, Comsol India says, “These tools are changing the way people design their products. The earlier approach used to be if you first come up with an idea, you do a CAD design, then you do the testing. Now what people are able to do is they come up with an idea, optimize the thing and then send it to the CAD step. So the whole life cycle management is shrinking now. It is becoming more efficient so its completely changing the way people are designing their products. And once you become more efficient your prices will reduce and so it has helped keep the prices down.”
The trend of smarter features in cars, points to a world where cars are no longer mere things in the Internet, but individual computing platforms that drive user experience, and someday perhaps even the user.
Sneha Ambastha is technical journalist at EFY Gurgaon.