Bosch: the mobility of the future needs fuel cells

Climate-neutral powertrain for the long haul

This is information supplied by Bosch, and as always it includes some really useful information. My personal view is that hydrogen is the future for heavy vehicles but not necesarily for cars – see what you think.

Tom

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Electromobility is picking up more and more speed. It is an important element in reducing CO2 emissions from traffic. But how economical is it to operate heavy-duty trucks with 40-ton payloads over long distances using only battery-electric power? Given the battery weight, long charging times, and limited range of today’s technology, electric powertrains aren’t the first choice for heavy trucks. Nevertheless, even 40-ton trucks will be able to travel more than a thousand kilometres in all-electric mode in the near future. The key to this is the Bosch fuel-cell powertrain. When powered with hydrogen produced using renewable energy, this powertrain enables the climate-neutral transportation of goods and commodities. Bosch is taking the first step in this direction by developing the fuel-cell powertrain primarily with a focus on trucks, and the company plans to start production in 2022–2023. Once they have become established in trucks, Bosch fuel-cell powertrains will then increasingly find their way into passenger cars – rightly making them an integral part of tomorrow’s powertrain portfolio.

Seven reasons why fuel cells and hydrogen are crucial building blocks of tomorrow’s mobility:

1) Climate neutrality

In a fuel cell, hydrogen (H2) reacts with oxygen (O2) from the ambient air. The energy this reaction releases is converted into electricity, which is used for driving. Heat and pure water (H2O) are other products of the reaction. H2 is obtained using electrolysis, in which water is separated into hydrogen and oxygen with the aid of electricity. Generating this electricity from renewables makes the fuel-cell powertrain completely climate-neutral. Especially for large, heavy vehicles, fuel cells have a better carbon footprint than exclusively battery-electric powertrains if the CO2 emissions for production, operation, and disposal are added together. All that fuel-cell vehicles need in addition to their hydrogen tank is a much smaller battery for intermediate buffer storage. This greatly reduces their carbon footprint in production. “The advantages of the fuel cell really come into play in those areas where battery-electric powertrains don’t shine,” explains Dr. Uwe Gackstatter, president of the Bosch Powertrain Solutions division. “This means there’s no competition between fuel cells and batteries; instead, they complement each other perfectly.”

Power plant using renewable solar energy with sun

2) Potential applications

Hydrogen has a high energy density. One kilogram of hydrogen contains as much energy as 3.3 litres of diesel. To travel 100 kilometres, a passenger car needs only about one kilogram; a 40-ton truck needs a good seven kilograms. As with diesel or gasoline, it takes just a few minutes to fill an empty H 2 tank and continue the journey. “Fuel cells are the first choice for transporting larger loads for many kilometres every day,” Gackstatter says, summarizing the advantages. In the EU-funded H2Haul project, Bosch is currently working with other companies to build a small fleet of fuel-cell trucks and put them on the road. In addition to mobile applications, Bosch is developing fuel-cell stacks for stationary applications with solid-oxide fuel-cell (SOFC) technology. One intended use for them is as small, distributed power stations in cities, data canters, and charge points for electric vehicles. If the Paris climate action targets are to be met, in the future hydrogen will need to power not only cars and commercial vehicles, but also trains, aircraft, and ships. The energy and steel industries are also planning to make use of hydrogen.

3) Efficiency

One of the decisive factors for a powertrain’s eco-friendliness and profitability is its efficiency. This is around a quarter higher for fuel-cell vehicles than for vehicles with combustion engines. Employing recuperative braking further increases efficiency. Battery-electric vehicles, which can store electricity directly in the vehicle and use it for propulsion, are even more effective. However, since energy production and energy demand do not always coincide in time and location, electricity from wind and solar plants often remains unused because it cannot find a consumer and cannot be stored. This is where hydrogen comes into its own. The surplus electricity can be used to produce it in a decentralized way, ready for flexible storage and transportation.

4) Costs

The cost of green hydrogen will come down considerably when production capacities are expanded, and the price of electricity generated from renewables declines. The Hydrogen Council, an association of over 90 international companies, expects costs for many hydrogen applications to fall by half in the next ten years – making them competitive with other technologies. Bosch is currently working with the startup Powercell to develop the stack, the core of the fuel cell, and make it market-ready, with manufacturing to follow. The goal is a high-performance solution that can be manufactured at low cost. “In the medium term, using a vehicle with a fuel cell won’t be more expensive than using one with a conventional powertrain,” Gackstatter says.

5) Infrastructure

Today’s network of hydrogen filling stations doesn’t offer complete coverage, but the roughly 180 hydrogen filling stations in Europe are already sufficient for some important transport routes. Companies in many countries are cooperating to push ahead with the expansion, often supported by state subsidies. In Germany, too, politicians have recognized the important role of hydrogen in decarbonizing the economy and have anchored it in the National Hydrogen Strategy. For example, the H 2 Mobility joint venture will have built around 100 publicly accessible filling stations in Germany by the end of 2020, while the EU-funded H2Haul project is working not only on trucks but also on the filling stations required on its planned routes. Japan, China, and South Korea also have comprehensive support programs.

6) Safety

The use of gaseous hydrogen in vehicles is safe and no more hazardous than other automotive fuels or batteries. Hydrogen tanks do not pose an increased risk of explosion. It is true that H 2 burns in combination with oxygen and that a mixture of the two beyond a certain ratio is explosive. But hydrogen is about 14 times lighter than air and therefore extremely volatile. For example, any H 2 that escapes from a vehicle tank will rise faster than it can react with the ambient oxygen. In a fire test conducted on a fuel-cell car by U.S. researchers in 2003, there was a flash fire, but it quickly went out again. The vehicle remained largely undamaged.

7) Timing

Hydrogen production is a proven and technologically straightforward process. This means it can be ramped up quickly to meet higher demand. In addition, fuel cells have now reached the necessary technological maturity for their commercialization and widespread use. According to the Hydrogen Council, the hydrogen economy can become competitive in the next ten years, provided there is sufficient investment and political will. “The time for entry into the hydrogen economy is now,” Gackstatter says.

(Source: Bosch Media)

NEW 5th Edition: Special offer available for pre-order

Special offer available for pre-order: Advanced Automotive Fault Diagnosis 5th Ed. By Tom Denton

Ideal for technicians and students, along with 25 new real-life case studies, this fifth edition includes new content on diagnostic tools and equipment: VCDS, decade boxes, scanners, pass through, sensor simulators, break out boxes, multimeter updates for HV use, and more. It explains the fundamentals of vehicle systems and components, and it examines diagnostic principles and the latest techniques. Diagnostics is an essential part of a technician’s work, and as automotive systems become increasingly complex there is a greater need for these skills.

Chapters: 1. Introduction 2. Diagnostic technique 3. Tools and equipment 4. Sensors, actuators and oscilloscope diagnostics 5. On-board diagnostics 6. Engine systems 7. Chassis systems 8. Electrical systems 9. Transmission systems 10. Case studies

Item will ship after September 23, 2020. Pre-order special offer with free UK deliveryhttps://py.pl/46lYubiqGKh

For overseas, there is a free delivery option here (not signed!): Routledge Publisher

How cars and infrastructure work together in urban automated driving

Pedestrians obscured from view by vehicles, cyclists passing in front of the car, buses that suddenly approach: negotiating city traffic can quickly become a difficult task. Of all things, it could be streetlights that make urban traffic safer and provide automated vehicles with an overview of the traffic situation. This was the subject of the MEC-View research project. The project required streetlights to be fitted with video and lidar sensors, which then used advanced cellular technology to provide vehicles with critical information in real time, allowing them to detect obstacles – whether other cars, bicycles, or pedestrians – quickly and reliably. After more than three years of development, the project is now ready to present its findings. Partners in the project, which received 5.5 million euros in funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), were Bosch, the consortium leader, together with Mercedes-Benz, Nokia, Osram, TomTom, IT Designers, and the universities of Duisburg-Essen and Ulm. The project’s associated partner was the city of Ulm, which for the past three years has been the testing ground for the sensors on the streetlights and the connectivity technology. The insights gained in the project will now be used to further develop automotive technology, automated driving, and cellular technology. In addition, the infrastructure the project has built up will now be available for further research projects to use.

Bird’s-eye beats worm’s eye
Reaching up to six meters in height, streetlights tower above road traffic. They have a precise bird’s eye view of developments at busy intersections, say – and it is knowledge like this that automated vehicles will need in the future. While a vehicle’s sensor systems – cameras, radar, and lidar sensors – give it precise 360-degree vision, the view from the ground – from the vehicle alone – is not always sufficient for it to see a pedestrian currently obscured by a truck, a vehicle emerging from a concealed entrance, or a cyclist approaching from behind and changing lanes quickly. “Because the vehicle itself cannot see around corners or through walls, we use the streetlight sensors to extend the vehicle sensors’ field of view,” says Dr. Rüdiger Walter Henn, who heads the MEC-View project at the consortium leader Bosch. The project partners have developed the corresponding hardware and software for this purpose; the system processes the images and signals from the infrastructure sensors, combines them with high-resolution digital maps (HD maps), and transmits them to the vehicle over the air. There, the data merges with the vehicle’s own sensor information to create an accurate picture of the situation, including all relevant road users.

Wireless data transmission
Advanced cellular technology makes extremely low-latency transmission of sensor information possible. While the MEC-View project used LTE mobile communications technology with an optimized configuration for this purpose, in the new 5G communications standard, real-time data transmission is a basic function. The core task of latency-optimized mobile communications is not only the virtually instantaneous wireless transmission of data, but also the processing of that data as close to the source as possible. This task is performed by special computers, known as mobile edge computing servers (or MEC servers for short), which are integrated directly into the cellular network. They combine the streetlight sensor data with data from a vehicle’s surround sensors and highly accurate digital maps. From this, they generate a model of the surroundings that includes all available information about the current traffic situation, and make this model available to vehicles over the air. In the future, facilities such as the city traffic control centers could be equipped with such servers, so that they can share the data with all vehicles, regardless of manufacturer, and other road users.

Seamlessly merging with trafic
In Ulm, the project partners have been testing the interaction of automated vehicle prototypes and infrastructure sensors in real traffic conditions since 2018. One intersection in the Lehr district of Ulm is notorious for its lack of good all-round visibility. The streetlights there were equipped with sensors to help automated vehicles negotiate the intersection. Vehicles approaching the difficult intersection from a side road have to merge onto the main road. Thanks to the newly developed technology, the automated prototype now recognizes road users early on and can adapt its driving strategy accordingly. As a result, the vehicle targets gaps in the traffic on the main road and merges seamlessly, without stopping. Such a development will make urban traffic not only safer, but also more fluid. The infrastructure built up during the project will remain in Ulm, where it will be available for use by subsequent research projects.

 

Project website with the findings: www.mec-view.de

Mercedes-AMG Develops Electric Exhaust Gas Turbocharger

Mercedes-AMG is implementing electric exhaust gas turbochargers in its next vehicle generation. The turbocharger features an electronically controlled electric motor which drives the compressor wheel before the wheel takes over the exhaust gas flow.

Electric exhaust gas turbocharger from Mercedes-AMG

The electric exhaust gas turbocharger was developed in partnership with Garrett Motion. The technology comes from Formula 1 and is intended to combine the benefits of a small turbocharger with fast response times that achieves relatively low peak performance and of a large turbocharger with high peak performance but delayed responses.

A slim electric motor measuring around 4 cm is integrated directly on the charger shaft between the turbine wheel on the exhaust side and the compressor wheel on the fresh-air side. The electronically controlled electric motor drives the compressor wheel before the wheel takes over the exhaust gas flow, which significantly improves responsiveness even at idle speeds and across the entire engine-speed range. The turbocharger is powered by a 48-volt on-board electrical system and can achieve speeds of up to 170,000 rpm, which enables a very high air flow rate. Along with the electric motor and power electronics, the turbocharger is connected to the combustion engine’s cooling circuit.

(Source: Springer)

Volvo’s XC40 Recharge Pure Electric

Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric available to order now amid surging interest in battery-powered cars

  • The first of five electric Volvo cars to be launched in the next five years
  • Capable of more than 249 miles on a single charge, versus average UK daily drive distance of 30 miles
  • Fast-charging potential: 80% of capacity in 40 minutes
  • Will deliver running-cost savings and tax benefits typical of electric cars
  • First Volvo to include pioneering Google Android-powered infotainment system
  • No internal combustion engine means extra storage space
  • One of the safest cars on the road
  • Launch expands Volvo’s already market-leading range of plug-in vehicles
  • XC40 Recharge Pure Electric P8 available from £53,155
  • UK deliveries anticipated from early 2021

Volvo XC40 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid

The Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric – Volvo’s first all-electric car – is now available for UK customers to order.

The first of five fully electric cars to be launched by the Swedish company over the next five years, the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric P8 is capable of a travelling more than 249 miles on a single charge, and can be charged to 80% of its battery capacity in as little as 40 minutes using a fast charger. Being an electric car, it will deliver significant savings to owners in running costs, as well as tax benefits.

Inside, the car benefits from the company’s brand-new infotainment system powered by Google Android, as well as taking the XC40’s already renowned use of interior space even further.

Kristian Elvefors, Volvo Car UK’s Managing Director, said: “For Volvo Cars, the future is electric. The battery-powered XC40 spearheads our ambitious sustainability strategy, while bringing the huge benefits of electric driving – and more – to an already award-winning package.”

A milestone in one of the automotive industry’s boldest electrification strategies

Volvo’s first entrant into the compact premium SUV segment when it was launched in 2018, the XC40 has seen unprecedented success, winning a host of prestigious awards – including European Car of the Year in 2018 – and quickly becoming the firm’s best-selling model in the UK. The Recharge Pure Electric variant comes at the perfect time, with almost three quarters of consumers considering an all-electric car for their next purchase1.

The fully electric XC40 SUV – Volvo’s first electric car and one of the safest on the road

The XC40 Recharge Pure Electric marks a major milestone in Volvo Cars’ electrification strategy, which is one of the boldest from any traditional car maker. As part of a long-term ambition to be climate-neutral by 2040, the company aims to reduce tailpipe emissions by 50% per car, and for half of all new vehicles it sells globally to be pure electric, by 2025.

The all-electric XC40 also expands Volvo’s already comprehensive range of plug-in vehicles, now sold under the Recharge brand, with customers already able to purchase a plug-in hybrid version of every model in the Volvo range.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid

While the recently launched plug-in hybrid XC40 is ideal for those making the transition to electric driving – its 28-mile electric range is backed up by a petrol engine for greater distances – the Pure Electric is the perfect car for those ready to commit to all-electric motoring. The average distance driven each day by UK motorists is 30 miles2, so its 249-plus-mile range more than covers most people’s daily requirements – especially if home or workplace charging is installed meaning a full charge at the start of each journey.

The XC40 P8’s long range does not come at the expense of performance, with its twin electric motors producing 408hp to deliver a 0-62mph time of only 4.9 seconds.

Interior design: making clever even cleverer

While the XC40 already follows the principle of doing more with less, the Recharge Pure Electric version takes this even further. The lack of an internal combustion engine frees up space for an additional 30-litre storage compartment or ‘frunk’ under the front bonnet, while the placement of the batteries under the centre of the car means space is not compromised elsewhere.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid

As with any other XC40, the battery-powered version comes equipped with clever interior touches such as a removable waste bin, a fold-out hook in the glove compartment for bags, and a useful boot divider complete with hooks for keeping shopping bags separate and upright. A pair of sizeable front door bins come courtesy of the traditionally door-housed speakers being moved to the base of the windscreen.

The interior of the battery-powered XC40 also carries over the strong focus on sustainability from other variants, with the door linings and carpets made from 97% recycled plastic bottles.

Rethinking infotainment

The all-electric XC40 marks the debut of Volvo Cars’ brand-new Android-powered infotainment system, which gives customers unprecedented personalisation increased intuitiveness and new embedded Google technologies and services.

Total integration of Android Automotive OS, Google’s open-source Android platform, means services such as Google Maps, Google Assistant and other automotive apps will be built in.

For the first time on a Volvo car, software and operating system updates will be available over the air, meaning an XC40 Recharge Pure Electric will improve over its lifetime rather than being at its peak on leaving the factory.

One of the safest cars on the road

In spite of the challenges presented by the lack of an internal combustion engine, the electric XC40 is one of the safest cars on the market. Volvo Cars’ safety engineers have totally redeveloped the frontal crash structure, while introducing a new and unique safety structure for the passengers and battery – helping to keep occupants as safe as they are in any other Volvo.

The fully electric XC40 SUV – Volvo’s first electric car and one of the safest on the road

The XC40 Recharge Pure Electric is also the first Volvo to feature a new version of Pilot Assist, the driver-assistance technology that deploys steering, acceleration and braking support to help take the strain during long motorway journeys and sitting in traffic. The system now uses Google Maps for information such as speed limits and curves in the road to improve its functionality.

A new Emergency Stop Assist function is now included, meaning that if the driver is not holding the steering wheel while Pilot Assist is activated, the driver will be warned in different stages until the vehicle is brought to a safe stop.

(Source: Volvo Media)

25 years of Bosch ESP®: no more skidding

Breakthrough for road safety

In the EU alone, the electronic stability program has saved some 15,000 lives.
Worldwide, 82 percent of all new passenger cars feature the anti-skid system.
Harald Kroeger: “The development of ESP® was a milestone on the path to our ‘vision zero’ of no more road deaths.”

Stuttgart, Germany – A wet road and a sudden evasive maneuver: there was a time when such a situation would frequently have ended in a ditch or against a crash barrier, and not rarely with fatalities or severe injuries. Almost 25 years ago to the day, a remedy was finally provided in the shape of a pioneering invention – the ESP® electronic stability program that Bosch and Daimler-Benz first launched in S-class vehicles in 1995. Since then, ESP® has been keeping vehicles safely on track, also in critical situations. Bosch accident researchers estimate that in the EU alone, the anti-skid system has saved some 15,000 lives over the past 25 years, as well as preventing just under half a million accidents involving personal injury. Together with the seatbelt and airbag, ESP® is one of the most important life-savers in a vehicle. “The development of the electronic stability program was a milestone on the path to our ‘vision zero’ of no more road deaths,” says the Bosch board of management member Harald Kroeger. “ESP® is an outstanding example of what we mean by ‘Invented for life.” The innovation may be from 1995, but there is nothing dated about it: Bosch has continuously improved its anti-skid system, and produced more than 250 million ESP® systems to date. Modern cars are inconceivable without this electronic guardian angel. Worldwide, 82 percent of all new vehicles are equipped with ESP®. In 2017, this figure was 64 percent.

Testing ESP® on the Schwieberdingen test route in 1984 Testing ESP® on the Schwieberdingen test route in 1995 25 years of Bosch ESP®: no more skidding 25 years of Bosch ESP®: no more skidding Testing ESP® in Sweden in 1995 25 years of Bosch ESP®

Testing ESP® on the Schwieberdingen test route in 1984
“ The development of the electronic stability program was a milestone on the path to our ‘vision zero’ of no more road deaths. ”
Bosch board of management member Harald Kroeger

ESP® can prevent up to 80 percent of all skidding accidents

Especially when roads are wet or icy, when evading unexpected obstacles such as animals on the road, and also when driving into a bend too fast, the electronic stability program intervenes. With ESP® on board, up to 80 percent of all skidding accidents can be prevented. It combines the functions of the ABS antilock braking system and the TCS traction control system, but can do considerably more. It also detects vehicle skidding movements, and actively counteracts them.

The anti-skid system uses information about vehicle dynamics to detect whether the car is heading in the direction the driver is steering. If there is a discrepancy between these two factors, ESP® intervenes. This may sound simple, but is in fact a complex process. Smart sensors help compare steering angle and vehicle trajectory 25 times a second. If the two diverge, ESP® reduces engine torque and brakes individual wheels. In this way, the system helps the driver prevent the vehicle from breaking away or skidding – effectively nipping many accidents in the bud.

Breakthrough following the elk test

The story behind this achievement is a long one. It started in the 1980s with initially independent efforts by Bosch and Daimler-Benz to achieve more vehicle stability. From 1992 until market launch, experts from the two companies worked together in a project unit. The legendary elk test of 1997 helped the system achieve a breakthrough: during tests for a Swedish automotive magazine, a Mercedes Benz A-class tipped over when making an abrupt evasive maneuver. Mercedes-Benz responded by making ESP® standard equipment. Since that time, more and more vehicles of many different automakers have adopted the anti-skid system.

Fewer accidents, fewer injuries, fewer fatalities – legislators have also recognized the benefits of ESP® and made it a mandatory feature of vehicles in many parts of the world. In the EU, the mandating process was gradual. From November 2011, it was initially mandatory for new passenger-car and commercial-vehicle types, and from November 1, 2014, for all newly registered passenger cars and commercial vehicles. And also in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Ecuador, Israel, Japan, Malysia, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, and the United States, the anti-skid system is either legally mandated or a self-imposed commitment. Experience from Europe shows that if the proportion of vehicles featuring the system rises, accident numbers fall.

“ ESP® has taken road safety to a new level. ”
Bosch board of management member Harald Kroeger

Basis for automated driving

“ESP® has taken road safety to a new level,” Kroeger says. And it has done so across a diverse range of vehicle types. Bosch offers customized ESP® systems for all powertrain types, from combustion engines to electric motors, and for vehicles of all kinds, from micro cars to commercial vehicles. Even for motorized two-wheelers, the company has developed a kind of ESP®. The MSC motorcycle stability control that Bosch launched in 2013 ensures the best possible stability in all riding situations, and is a further pioneering road-safety achievement.

At the same time, ESP® is the basic technology for many driver assistance systems, as well as for the automated driving with which Bosch is pursuing its vision zero. “Whether new or tried and tested, Bosch technologies alert and support drivers in critical situations. And increasingly, they are in a position to assume monotonous and fatiguing tasks. This gives us an opportunity to further reduce the number of accidents and road deaths,” Kroeger says. Whether with or without a driver at the wheel, Bosch will be nipping accidents in the bud in the future as well.

Next generation Volvo cars to be powered by Luminar LiDAR technology for safe self-driving

Volvo Cars, a global leader in automotive safety, is setting new safety and technology standards by partnering with tech firm Luminar to provide their industry-leading LiDAR and perception technology for Volvo’s next generation cars.

The partnership will deliver Volvo’s first fully self-driving technology for highways and paves the way for future active safety developments.

Volvo Cars’ next generation SPA 2 modular vehicle architecture will be available as hardware-ready for autonomous drive from production start in 2022, with the Luminar LiDAR seamlessly integrated into the roof.

Cars based on SPA 2 will be updated with software over the air and if customers decide to opt for it, the Highway Pilot feature that enables fully autonomous highway driving will be activated once it is verified to be safe for individual geographic locations and conditions.

Luminar LiDAR highway perception

“Autonomous drive has the potential to be one of the most lifesaving technologies in history, if introduced responsibly and safely,” said Henrik Green, chief technology officer at Volvo Cars. “Providing our future cars with the vision they require to make safe decisions is an important step in that direction.”

In addition to the Highway Pilot feature, Volvo Cars and Luminar are also exploring LiDAR’s role in improving future advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), with the potential for equipping all future SPA2-based cars with a LiDAR sensor as standard.

Luminar’s technology is based on its high performance LiDAR sensors, which emit millions of pulses of laser light to accurately detect where objects are by scanning the environment in 3D, creating a temporary, real-time map without requiring internet connectivity.

LiDAR is key in creating cars that can navigate safely in autonomous mode, providing them with the reliable vision and perception that cameras and radar alone cannot provide. LiDAR is the ideal basis for safe decision-making in complex environments at high speeds.

Luminar roofline LiDAR integration

To enable the Highway Pilot feature, Luminar’s perception technology will be combined with autonomous drive software and the cameras, radars and back-up systems for functions such as steering, braking and battery power installed on forthcoming Volvo cars equipped for self-driving. Put together, this gives Volvo users who want it access to a safe, fully self-driving feature for use on highways.

“Soon, your Volvo will be able to drive autonomously on highways when the car determines it is safe to do so,” said Henrik Green. “At that point, your Volvo takes responsibility for the driving and you can relax, take your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel. Over time, updates over the air will expand the areas in which the car can drive itself. For us, a safe introduction of autonomy is a gradual introduction.”

As part of the announcement, Volvo Cars and Luminar are deepening their collaboration to jointly ensure robust industrialisation and validation of Luminar’s LiDAR technology for series production. Volvo Cars has also signed an agreement to possibly increase its minority stake in Luminar.

Luminar Iris LiDAR for series production

For Silicon Valley-based Luminar, partnering with Volvo Cars represents the company’s first delivery of its technology into series production. This is a key step to achieving the economies of scale that are required to bring the technology to the wider automotive industry.

“Volvo is recognised as the pioneer of automotive safety, having driven standardisation across the industry for the most advanced life-saving technologies,” said Austin Russell, founder and CEO of Luminar. “The next era of safety lies within autonomous driving and once again, Volvo has taken the lead with a major industry milestone. We’ve solved the key cost, performance, and auto-grade challenges to make series production possible, and alongside Volvo are making the technology available to the world.”

Source: Volvo Media

Staying on track despite malfunctions

How driverless shuttles get safely from A to B Project 3F presents its results on automated driving at low speed

  • On course: vehicles can continue driving in spite of altered circumstances along theroute and technical failures in the system
  • On board: people and goods transported on test grounds in Renningen and Aachen
  • As a team: six partners involved in the publicly funded project

Renningen, Germany – Ferrying visitors from tram stop to exhibition center, supplementing public transport routes, moving containers full of packages in a logistics center: all these are possible use cases for driverless shuttles. The main thing is for them to be able to get safely from A to B – safely in both senses: reliably and without danger. This is what Project 3F, “Driverless and fault-tolerant vehicles in the low-speed range,” set out to achieve, with a focus on fail-safe operation. “The aim was to develop solutions to ensure that automated shuttles can move around safely, even if a technical malfunction occurs or obstacles suddenly appear,” says Steffen Knoop, project leader in research and advance engineering at Robert Bosch GmbH.

Specifically, the project team was concerned with making sure that the system does not fail completely in the event of a fault, but rather that the vehicle can continue to drive. With 4.3 million euros in funding from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs, the project featured Bosch as the consortium leader and involved three other companies, a university, and a research institute: StreetScooter GmbH, RA Consulting GmbH, the FZI Research Center for Information Technology, Finepower GmbH, and RWTH Aachen University.

Better safe than sorry: redundant power supply and sensor technology
“Driverless shuttle buses need to meet different requirements than, say, highly automated passenger cars,” explains Bosch project coordinator Thomas Schamm. To operate without (safety) drivers, shuttles must be able to monitor their system autonomously – in other words, perform diagnostic tasks – and cope with any technical faults detected so that they can continue driving. At the same time, they must be able to secure the system in the event of critical faults, for example by bringing themselves to a stop. Project 3F has been working on what the requirements look like in detail, how the systems must be designed on that basis, and how to optimize the way the individual components interact.

One solution is to build in redundancy, in other words to duplicate safety-relevant functions. For example, the researchers developed redundant systems for the power supply so that the electrical powertrain and vehicle electrical system are reliably protected. They also adapted and refined the sensor technology to suit the vehicle design. In order to reliably detect obstacles, they installed several lidar and radar sensors at various points around the vehicle, giving it the ability to observe its surroundings from different positions. By delivering a 360-degree birds-eye view and avoiding blind spots, this creates a kind of 3D protection zone. This setup not only detects obstacles on the road, such as barriers, it also spots things like hanging branches.
Detect, classify, adjust driving behavior.

Another solution is to build in fault tolerance, whereby the failure of a subsystem is at least partly compensated for by other functions. This is a bit like how it is with people: if the lights suddenly go out in a room, we use our other senses and feel our way around instead of becoming paralyzed. The shuttle behaves in a similar way: if it is blind in a certain area, say because leaves are stuck to the sensor or a large object such as a dumpster is completely blocking the view in one direction, it slows down or omits the parts of the route that can no longer be detected.

In addition, the project worked to ensure that shuttle buses can also react to altered circumstances along their defined route. The vehicles are programmed to slow down when any moving objects approach or, in case of doubt, to give unknown objects a wide berth. When they identify familiar landmarks such as streetlights, on the other hand, they resume their journey at full speed. If there is any imminent danger, the shuttle will come to a precautionary stop. The objective is for the vehicle to adapt its driving behavior to the circumstances in real time while also continuing on its journey automatically whenever possible, even in the event of system malfunctions or obstacles in its path.

Three times the telemetry, twice the usability
Data on the journey being undertaken and the current technical status can be transmitted from the vehicle and back to it. Information on three different functions is transmitted back and forth: diagnostics, monitoring, and control. So that is three times the telemetry, which is why we’re calling it “teletrimetry.” This lays the foundation for an entire fleet of automated shuttle buses to be remotely monitored, as well as repaired or even controlled, for instance to open the doors. It means the vehicles will get help if they do ever reach their fault-detection and compensation limits, or if they simply require scheduled maintenance.

The solutions developed in the project work not only for driverless shuttle buses. They can also provide robust support for logistics processes. Project members developed an assistance system for driver-vehicle interaction that enables highly accurate positioning of swap body lifting trucks – special vehicles for moving containers in logistics centers. The objective here was to move the vehicles with centimeter precision underneath gantry cranes to enable the swift removal of transport containers. This requires precise localization and a form of automated parking under the gantry. In practice, this automated maneuver enables error-free container collection and positioning.

These developments were tested on several test tracks: at Bosch’s research campus in Renningen, two shuttle buses trialed the transportation of people around a site shared with pedestrians; while at an innovation park near Aachen and in the area around a Deutsche Post/DHL depot, a logistics vehicle was deployed to test the interaction between driver and automated vehicle.
Further information is available online at www.3f-projekt.de (German only)
Supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy following a resolution of the German Bundestag.

In motion: solutions for the mobility of today and tomorrow

Powerful computing for the electronics architecture of the future – vehicle computers: Increasing electrification, automation, and connectivity are placing ever higher demands on vehicles’ electronics architecture. One key to the vehicles of the future lies in the new high-performance vehicle control units. Bosch vehicle computers will increase computing power in vehicles by a factor of 1,000 by the start of the next decade. The company is already producing these kinds of computers for automated driving, the powertrain, and the integration of infotainment systems and driver assistance functions.

Full power – services for electromobility: Bosch’s Battery in the Cloud prolongs the life of batteries in electric cars. Smart software functions analyze the status of the battery based on real-time data from the vehicle and its surroundings. It recognizes stress factors for the battery, such as high-speed charging. On the basis of the data collected, the software then calculates measures to counter cell aging, such as optimized recharging processes that mean less wear and tear for the battery. Convenience Charging, Bosch’s integrated recharging and navigation solution, allows for a precise range forecast, route planning that includes recharging stops, and convenient recharging and payment.

E-mobility for the long haul – fuel-cell system: Mobile fuel cells offer long ranges, short refueling times, and – with hydrogen produced using renewable energy – emissions-free vehicle operation. Bosch plans to commercialize a fuel-cell stack that it has refined together with the Swedish company Powercell. In addition to the stack, which converts hydrogen and oxygen into electrical energy, Bosch is developing all the essential fuel-cell system components to a production-ready stage.

Connected products that save lives – Help Connect: Someone who has had an accident needs help fast – regardless of whether they are at home, on a bicycle, doing sports, in a car, or on a motorcycle. For these and any other emergency situations, Bosch offers a guardian angel in the form of Help Connect. Available as a smartphone app, this connectivity solution transmits lifesaving information to emergency services via Bosch service centers. The solution requires automated accident detection, for instance via the smartphone sensors or the vehicle’s assistance systems. For this purpose, Bosch has added a smart crash algorithm to the acceleration sensors in its MSC motorcycle stability control system. Should the sensors detect an accident, they report the crash to the app, which immediately sets the rescue process in motion. Once it has been registered, the lifesaving solution can be activated at any time, in any place – automatically in connected devices or at the push of a button.

(Source: Bosch Media)

Sony EV

The Japanese electronics company Sony has developed an electric car. The prototype, named the “Vision-S”, was presented by the company at CES in Las Vegas. Sony announced that it wants to “contribute to the achievement of safe, reliable, and comfortable mobility experiences”.

According to media information, the electric vehicle was developed jointly with the Austrian contract manufacturer and supplier Magna Steyr. Bosch, Continental and ZF were apparently also involved.

The prototype features Sony’s software, image and sensor technology. A total of 33 sensors – including CMOS image sensors and ToF sensors – are embedded in the car to recognise people and objects inside and outside the vehicle. They are intended to provide a “safety cocoon” to protect people both inside and outside. The “360 Reality Audio” system is used to create an excellent sound experience within the vehicle. For this purpose, loudspeakers are built into each seat and surround the passengers with sound. Opposite the front seats is a panoramic screen, where passengers can access content via an intuitive user interface.

(Source: https://www.springerprofessional.de/en/battery/companies—institutions/sony-reveals-its-own-electric-car-at-ces-2020/17553250)