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)

Safe eyes save lives

Bosch’s new Virtual Visor greatly improves driver safety and comfort

  • Sun glare causes thousands of automotive accidents a year, almost two times more than any other weather-related condition.
  • Virtual Visor features a single, transparent LCD panel, a driver-facing camera with AI facial detection and analysis and tracking software.
  • Dr. Steffen Berns: “Some of the simplest innovations make the greatest impact, and Virtual Visor changes the way drivers see the road.”
  • Bosch at CES®: Virtual Visor named Best of Innovation in CES 2020 Innovation Awards; see it in action at booth #12041 in Central Hall.

Farmington Hills, Michigan – Bosch is rethinking driver safety and comfort, bringing one of the most overlooked interior components into the spotlight, the sun visor. The sun causes twice as many car accidents as any other weather-related condition due to temporary blindness. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports thousands sun glare-related car accidents each year, and another study indicates the risk of a car crash is 16 percent higher during bright sunlight than normal weather. The traditional sun visor is not equipped to adequately address this safety concern. At best, it blocks some of the sun from your eyes but along with it, some of your view is blocked as well.


Bosch is offering a solution with the revolutionary Virtual Visor, a transparent LCD and intuitive camera, which replaces the traditional vehicle sun visor completely. As the first reimagined visor in nearly a century, Bosch’s technology utilizes intelligent algorithms to intuitively block the sun’s glare and not the view of the road ahead.

“For most drivers around the world, the visor component as we know it is not enough to avoid hazardous sun glare – especially at dawn and dusk when the sun can greatly decrease drivers’ vision,” said Dr. Steffen Berns, president of Bosch Car Multimedia. “Some of the simplest innovations make the greatest impact, and Virtual Visor changes the way drivers see the road.”

The Virtual Visor, which was honored as a Best of Innovation in the CES 2020 Innovation Awards, will debut at CES 2020 in Las Vegas. The Virtual Visor was also named as an honoree in the awards competition, which recognizes products across 28 categories. Virtual Visor received the Best of Innovation for the In-Vehicle Entertainment & Safety category, as it received the highest ratings from a panel of judges that includes designers, engineers and members of the tech media.
A sun visor fit for the future

Virtual Visor links an LCD panel with a driver or occupant-monitoring camera to track the sun’s casted shadow on the driver’s face. The system uses artificial intelligence to locate the driver within the image from the driver-facing camera. It also utilizes AI to determine the landmarks on the face ‒ including where the eyes, nose and mouth are located ‒ so that it can identify shadows on the face. The algorithm analyzes the driver’s view, darkening only the section of the display through which light hits the driver’s eyes. The rest of the display remains transparent, no longer obscuring a large section of the driver’s field of vision.
“We discovered early in the development that users adjust their traditional sun visors to always cast a shadow on their own eyes,” said Jason Zink, technical expert for Bosch in North America and one of the co-creators of the Virtual Visor. “This realization was profound in helping simplify the product concept and fuel the design of the technology.”

The creative use of liquid crystal technology to block a specific light source decreases dangerous sun glare, driver discomfort and accident risk; it also increases driver visibility, comfort and safety.
Innovation from the recycling bin

From the original ideation and concept phase to testing and prototyping, Virtual Visor is a bottom-up solution made possible through the innovation culture established at Bosch. Employees are encouraged to apply lean startup methodologies to confirm customer benefits, market potential and feasibility for new ideas, which are then validated by peers and approved for development.

“We’ve built a culture around empowering our associates by putting them in the driver’s seat,” said Mike Mansuetti, president of Bosch in North America. The Virtual Visor was developed by a team in North America as part of Bosch internal innovation activities. “As a leading global technology provider, we understand that innovation can come from any level of an organization, and we want to see that grow.”
A group of three powertrain engineers, led by Zink, developed the idea for Virtual Visor and created prototypes in their free time in order to secure internal funding for the project concept.
“Like many early-stage ideas, we were working with limited capital and resources,” said Zink. “The original prototype, we used to first pitch the concept, was made from an old LCD monitor we recovered from a recycling bin.”

The Virtual Visor team received mentorship from Bosch executives as they sought funding and developed additional versions of the product. Ultimately the product was transitioned into the Bosch Car Multimedia division.

 

Keyless as secure as a fingerprint

It takes less than five seconds for a hacker to compromise a standard keyless vehicle entry system. Among experts,this is known as a relay station attack. A Bosch key app is going to change all that. “Our Perfectly Keyless system revolutionizes keyless entry systems. It is the ‘key’ to preventing digital car theft,” says Harald Kröger, president of the Bosch Automotive Electronics division. The special thing about the solution is that the Bosch technology works with a virtual key stored in the smartphone.Sensors installed in the car recognize the owner’s smartphone as securely as a fingerprint and open the vehicle only for them. Digital key management links the app and the vehicle via the cloud. With Perfectly Keyless, Bosch is thus doing something that no other keyless entry system has done before, namely offering both convenience and security. The new smartphone-based key can be used in cars, entire car-sharing fleets, and commercial vehicles. Bosch believes this system with its built-in security lock has huge market potential worldwide.

Bosch revolutionizes keyless entry

 With conventional keyless entry systems,the car key still needs to be carried in a jacket or suit pocket, for example.To open the door and start the engine, it communicates with the car using a radio signal in the low frequency (LF) or ultra high frequency (UHF) range. In the race against thieves, the automotive industry is constantly refining existing systems. It’s like a marathon. “Now, with Perfectly Keyless, Bosch is launching into a sprint in the development of digital vehicle entry systems.Our motto is revolution, not evolution,” Kröger says. Instead of transmitting data via low or high frequency radio technology, the Bosch system uses the smartphone as virtual key and Bluetooth as the transmission technology. This means that the car key can stay at home. And thanks to its decades of experience in semiconductors, Bosch is in a position to make this connection as secure as a fingerprint. Every smartphone contains tiny microchips to manage communication via Bluetooth, and these play a key role in the Bosch solution.Together with sensors installed in the vehicle and a special control unit, they form a system that opens the door only for the smartphone containing the virtual key that fits in the Perfectly Keyless system’s digital lock. The system blocks signals from other smartphones or from electronic devices that manipulate the radio transmission. In this way, Perfectly Keyless protects against unauthorized access.

A keyless journey

Virtual vehicle keys on smartphones have long been a feature of car-sharing fleets. These vehicles don’t move until their operator authorizes entry via the cloud; only then can a user unlock the vehicle, start it, and lock it again using an app. This conversation between the phone and the vehicle uses near-field communication (NFC), a wireless protocol for sharing data over distances of a few centimeters. For this to work,users must take out their smartphone before each journey and hold it up to a marked area on the vehicle. Only then can the system recognize the user and unlock the doors. With Bosch Perfectly Keyless, the smartphone can also stay in its pocket. This means greater ease of use for drivers, and car sharing users benefit from the added convenience. The Bosch solution also works in trucks and for entire fleets of commercial vehicles. That means no more manual administration of vehicle keys, physical handover, or hassle when a key is lostor stolen. If the smartphone is lost or stolen, and the Perfectly Keyless app with it, the digital key can be simply deactivated online, thus blocking access to the vehicle.

(Source: Bosch Media)

LEXUS SUSPENSION INNOVATIONS

Throughout the six generations of success, the Lexus ES has been famous for its smooth, quiet and refined ride. Now this signature quality has been taken to an even higher level in the all-new 7th generation of the luxury sedan thanks to a detailed and innovative approach to suspension design and packaging.

The attention to detail produced a new Swing Valve Shock Absorber with an ultra-low velocity valve – a world-first in the industry. In simple terms, this innovation makes sure an appropriate damping force is provided when even the slightest movement is experienced in the car’s wheels and suspension. This makes for a comfortable, unruffled ride and a stable feel, whether you’re pulling away slowly, or driving at speed on the highway.

The benefit is gained in the way the flow of oil is controlled inside a new valve arrangement. As well as a main valve, the ES’s shock absorbers have an additional ultra-low velocity valve, which allows for very low oil speed operation; at low to high oil speeds, the main valve opens to suppress the damping force, giving supple ride comfort.

Delivering superior standards of both handling stability and ride comfort is a big ask but it was a challenge Lexus was ready to meet by drawing up a new double wishbone rear suspension design. Critically, the system’s trailing arms have been located with pinpoint accuracy to give the set-up the rigidity it needs to give true, linear steering response to the driver’s use of the wheel and excellent handling stability.

Much of the testing to evaluate the new ES’s ride and handling took place in Europe where the development team could be sure of a wide range of road types and surfaces, from no-limit German highways, to winding mountain routes and urban streets with rough surfaces. Further testing was carried out on track, including at the famous Nürburgring, and in California.

At the same time as Lexus’ engineers determined the optimum suspension performance, they also took care to produce a design that doesn’t compromise the size or convenient shape of the boot. To meet this requirement, they placed the shock absorbers closer to the back of the rear seats and mounted them separately from the coil springs.

  • Lexus applies new technologies and designs to further enhance ride comfort and handling stability in the all-new ES luxury sedan
  • World-first Swing Valve Shock Absorber has ultra-low velocity valves for precision damping performance at very low speeds
  • New-design double wishbone rear suspension
  • Systems optimised for rigidity, light weight and compact design

(Source: Lexus Europe Newsroom, https://newsroom.lexus.eu/lexus-pushes-the-boundaries-of-ride-comfort-with-world-first-suspension-innovations-in-the-all-new-es/)

 

Curved instrument cluster

Bosch is putting the world’s first curved instrument cluster in the cockpit of a mass-production vehicle. What has long since arrived in people’s living rooms at home and for the smartphone is now being put on the road by Bosch as the first of its kind in mass production. “The days of flat instrument displays are over. With the world’s first curved instrument cluster, Bosch is opening up a new dimension in vehicle cockpits,” says Steffen Berns, president of the Car Multimedia division. The “curved” instrument cluster will be celebrating its debut in the Innovision Cockpit of the new VW Touareg. This means that Volkswagen is now replacing analog display technology behind the steering wheel with a freely configurable, high-resolution, curved display. Depending on what the driver wants to see at any given time, the screen is able to display large-area navigation maps, driver information or the status of the assistance systems. The secret behind the sharpness and contrast of the new displays is a new manufacturing process, with which the instrument cluster reflects more than four times less light, even in the sunlight.

The days of flat instrument displays are over. With the world’s first curved instrument cluster, Bosch is opening up a new dimension in vehicle cockpits.“
Steffen Berns, president of the Car Multimedia division

More safety, more space, more freedom

These days, everyone knows that the world is not flat. With a consistently digital, curved instrument display, Bosch is now proving that instrument clusters in the vehicle also no longer have to be flat. Its curvature mimics the natural curvature of the human eye. As a result, the driver is able to much better detect indicator lights and warning signals, even at the edge of the screen. This also gives it a clear advantage over the familiar curved monitors at home in the living room, where only one person can sit at the optimum viewing angle at any one time. In contrast, the curved instrument cluster in a vehicle always optimally accommodates the driver’s view. “Drivers benefit from curved instrument clusters in terms of safety and convenience. At the same time, this type of display gives automotive manufacturers greater freedom and more space in the design of the cockpit,” says Berns. Nowadays, automotive manufacturers increasingly want to avoid using mechanical switches, knobs, and controls. However, large-sized monitors are very high on the wish list – as is the curved instrument cluster made by Bosch. Beneath its surface, it combines a large number of digital displays, while taking up almost two centimeters less space than a non-curved screen of comparable size.

“Whatever you want” in the cockpit

Speedometer, navigation maps, and telephone list: the contents displayed on the instrument cluster with a screen diagonal of close to 31 centimeters (12.3 inches) are determined by the driver depending on the driving situation and personal preference. An intelligent control system, which – invisible to the driver – is concealed behind the cockpit on a control unit. It ensures that the driver always sees exactly the screen contents that he wants to see at a glance. There is a choice, for example, from between detailed information on the current journey, the navigation map, telephone contacts, or details on the playlist currently playing. Each piece of information can be displayed over the entire screen or shown in combination with other contents. So anyone who wants to display the navigation map and the telephone list in addition to the traditional speedometer can do so easily and conveniently by making those selections using the multifunction steering wheel or the infotainment’s touchscreen. It is also possible to perform a targeted zoom into the navigation map directly on the instrument cluster – another novel feature that will debut in the Touareg’s Innovision Cockpit.

Four times less glare

Vibrations, temperature fluctuations, susceptibility to malfunctions: the demands placed on vehicle displays in terms of quality and robustness are high. In addition, the driver must be able to reliably read screen displays even when the sun is shining directly on the vehicle display. That is why Bosch’s new curved instrument cluster uses a special manufacturing process. Up to now, this process was used to make screens for flat displays with high contrast, even in bright ambient light. In cooperation with partners, Bosch is now using this process for the first time in the large-scale production of a curved display for the vehicle cockpit. In optical bonding – which is what this process is called – a thin liquid is used to bond the instrument display and glass directly to each other. Thanks to the perfect connection of the two components, the instrument cluster reflects more than four times less light. For the driver, this means that there is virtually no glare and the display is rich in contrast and clear in both direct sunlight and darkness.