Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Electronics on Wheels

Today, car manufacturers use electronics not just for safety and security, networking and energy management but also for entertainment, driver assistance and passengers’ comfort. In short, they are using electronics to boost the ‘user experience’ holistically. Here are some brilliant examples -- Janani Gopalakrishnan Vikram

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Intelligent decision-making. Ford is reasearching the use of real-time sensor date—radar- and camera-based—to evaluate external factors affecting driver attention such as traffic congestion, and thus limit potential distractions such as incoming phone calls.

Upgradeable, customisable hardware. Ford’s OpenXC research platform drivers community-driven innovation of plug-and-play hardware modules that provide infinite opportunities for rapid customisation.

Ford SYNC. The success of this integrated in-vehicle infotainment platform is linked to its open, agnostic platform strategy that allows adoption and compatibility with the burgeoning mobile ecosystem; Ford is planning to add Cloud capabilities to SYNC platform.

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Advanced machine learning. The new Fusion and C-MAX Energi plugin hybrids utilise EV+ feature that learns the typical locations of charging, such as home and office, and then automatically maximises electric-only driving mode when nearing those locations.

Rapid data authentication. Ford sees significant potential in vehicle-tovehicle communication and is actively researching advanced Wi-Fi with rapid authentication capability so that cars can exchange information quickly and securely, helping drivers avoid potential collisions.

6. Toyota Lexus
Voice-activated navigation system. This system in Toyota Lexus uses a hard disk drive to store maps and data, and provides a high-resolution 31.2cm (12.3-inch) colour display. It can recognise over a hundred voice commands and map over eight million points of interest. It can also link to a phone via Bluetooth to display contacts and call information.

Value-added services. These include real-time traffic information, weather updates, sports scores and stock prices.

Smart-phone integration. The Lexus Enform App Suite connects with a compatible smartphone to give in-vehicle access to mobile applications. Most applications can be voice-controlled.

Electronic brake-force distribution. A computer-controlled system precisely modulates the amount of pressure applied to the brakes, helping to enhance control during braking. Smart stop technology. This technology automatically reduces engine power when the brake pedal is firmly applied, even if the accelerator pedal is fully pressed down.

Pre-collision system. It detects an imminent frontal collision, retracts the front seatbelts and automatically prepares Brake Assist to help provide increased braking pressure the moment the driver steps on the brake pedal.

Dynamic radar cruise control. Radar technology senses the speed of vehicles in front of the car. If the car gets too close to a vehicle ahead, the throttle is automatically reduced and the brakes applied. As soon as the road ahead clears, the car returns to its preset speed.

Driver attention monitor. It detects situations when the driver is looking away from the road ahead or has fallen asleep, and signals an alert if it detects an object ahead.

Vehicle dynamics integrated management. It can predict and take steps to help prevent a skid even before it occurs by using a combination of individual-wheel braking, torque modulation and steering torque assistance.

Safety Connect. It uses an embedded cellphone with GPS technology to put drivers in touch with the 24-hour Safety Connect Response Centre. The driver can press the SOS button to request emergency assistance. In the event of airbag deployment or severe rear-end collision, the call is placed automatically without any driver interaction.

Tyre pressure monitors. These monitor the pressure of all four tyres and alert the driver when it falls below the recommended level.

Advanced Safety Research Vehicle. A futuristic model of Lexus carries forward-looking and side-facing millimetre-wave radar sensors, as well as a 360-degree laser scanner that collects three-dimensional data on anything nearby. Onboard computers use data from those scanners, and data collected from the engine and wheels, to make sense of the car’s surroundings and operate the car’s controls. The car is capable of autonomous drive, although it still needs a driver!



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