The 67th International Motor Show (IAA) is currently being organised at Frankfurt, with the global automotive event witnessing a slew of technologies being showcased by top OEMs and suppliers. This year has seen various solutions that focus on future mobility solutions like connected vehicles, autonomous driving and vehicle electrification, along with technologies that provide comfort and convenience in adopting these future automotive trends.
We see that automotive component suppliers have participated actively in IAA 2017, which generally sees a very high level of participation from OEMs alone. This trend goes to show the high level of development work that suppliers from various tiers of the industry are carrying out, in order to make future mobility trends come alive in real-life. Suppliers at IAA 2017 demonstrated their technology offerings in the area of connected and autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles and also on solutions to make these upcoming trends more efficient, safer, and with a touch of comfort and convenience. Here’s a look at some of the top solutions being featured at the IAA 2017 show by the supplier community.
AUTONOMOUS DRIVING (AD) TECHNOLOGIES
AD is one of the hottest topics in the automotive industry at present, with manufacturers talking about different levels of AD, from Level 1 to 5. While there have been various debates on whether or not Level 5 driving would be achievable in the near future, the technologies from suppliers for all levels of AD are already in the portfolio of a number of companies. Tier I suppliers such as Bosch, Continental, Magna and Brose showcased a range of solutions that help OEMs develop vehicles with various levels of autonomy for safer and more convenient driving.
Magna showcased its MAX4 autonomous driving sensing and computing platform, which is a fully-integrated, customisable and scalable module that can enable up to Level 4 AD capabilities in both urban and highway environments. Through this interactive platform, Magna intends to prove that the hurdles to reaching high levels of vehicle autonomy might be in infrastructure and legislation, but not necessarily in technology development. This technology combines cameras, radar, lidar and ultrasonic sensors with a computer platform that are designed for easy integration with existing and future platforms of automakers —including hybrid and electric vehicles. The company is said to have leveraged its full-vehicle expertise in its design of MAX4 to overcome traditional obstacles in the development and production of an autonomous driving platform.
Similarly, suppliers have developed technologies that help occupants in elevating their in-cabin experience when being transported in an autonomous vehicle. An example of this would be Continental’s Cockpit Vision 2025, which showcases how new cockpit designs are needed for automated driving to succeed if drivers wish to be relaxed and entertained in equal measure. The cockpit displays of the future will adapt not only to the preferences of the driver but also to the requirements of the driving situation – and they will do so intuitively, intelligently and interactively. Cockpit Vision 2025 is presented in a mixed-reality format, where a clay model without any instruments transforms into the cockpit of the future by the use of an augmented-reality headset. It includes a range of functions for comprehensive human-machine interaction that can dynamically and flexibly adapt the vehicle interior to the specific situation.
Brose is also presenting multifunctional interiors of the future, since AD is changing the demands of car users in terms of vehicle interiors. The company is showcasing complete interiors that can be individually adapted to changing driving situations to enable drivers and passengers to work or relax. For the first time, Brose also showcased adjustment technology that goes beyond the seat, by drawing on its decades of experience and expertise in front and rear seats. This concept includes factors like the steering wheel disappearing into the instrument panel, pedals raised to serve as footrests, a table folding out from the centre console, and screen on the dashboard moving directly in front of the driver, once autopilot takes control. This working mode is one of many configuration options in Brose’s new interior concept, with various modes for entering and exiting the vehicle, driving, relaxing or meetings.
Brose said that a high level of interior flexibility is made possible by power seat structures with new kinematics and additional functional adjustment technology. Additionally, in order to create expanded space in the vehicle interior, Brose uses a continuous rail system for the front and rear seats, which is hidden in the floor. The contourable rear seats can be folded extremely flat and lowered completely, it added.
A common theme in the air was the fact the AD is expected to come faster than one thinks, even in urban areas. Bosch is showing its solutions around reducing the number of accidents by the adoption of AD. The company has displayed its range of technologies that it has developed along with various supplier, as well as OEM partners, in order to make driving safer and convenient by making the travel more connected and providing various levels of driving assistance and autonomy. These solutions are not only limited to driving on city roads and highways, but also offer solutions to customers in terms of identifying parking spots, and even automatically parking vehicles in identified spots.
ELECTRIC MOBILITY SOLUTIONS
In terms of electric mobility, the widely agreed idea is that 48-volt systems would be the largely-adopted electrification technology that would help increase electric vehicle (EV) performance and efficiency. BorgWarner said it expects 48-volt systems to capture over 60 % of the global hybrid vehicle market, with an annualised production rate of about 25 mn units by 2027. The company showcased a range of combustion, hybrid and electric technologies at the event, noting that its 48-volt system solutions capture and use waste energy in the most efficient way. BorgWarner believes that 48-volt systems offer the high-volume economics that will get the industry to the ultimate destination of a cleaner, more energy-efficient world.
Meanwhile Brose displayed its electric motors and drives, which claim to provide system expertise for hybrid and electric cars. The company is showcasing its new modular motor and electronics system, among other technologies. A new addition to Brose’s product portfolio, a 48 V booster drive for mild hybrid vehicles, is being presented at the auto show for the first time. This booster supports the main engine as needed, and with torque of up to 80 Nm, it can move the car in situations such as traffic jams or parking garages without having to use the internal combustion engine. The hybrid booster can be integrated at various points of the drive train and thus into different hybrid concepts. It also features a particularly compact design, low weight and high efficiency levels of over 92 %, noted the company.
Brose also showcased its electric air conditioning compressor, which combines the motor, compressor unit and power electronics, and can also be used as a heat pump. It is claimed to be more economical than conventional variants powered by an internal combustion engine because it only operates when it is needed. Additionally, it can be used with vehicle electrical systems from 48 to 810 V and works with both chemical refrigerants and CO2. This compressor is especially well-suited for electric vehicles, since its high power density minimises the load on the battery, thereby maximising range. Another solution for the e-mobility space is the company’s new drive for rear axle steering, which reduces the turning circle, improves handling and thus comfort, especially for parking or changing lanes at high speed. Additionally, Brose showcased a new variant of its electric-bike motor product family at IAA.
GKN Driveline unveiled its all-new electric axle concept, called eTwinsterX, which represents the most advanced electrified driveline technology. The eTwinsterX offers three key advantages over conventional electric drivelines, with the first being its integrated coaxial design that leads to the unit being significantly smaller than other systems with equivalent power outputs. The second advantage is that its size also contributes to its adaptability to suit any vehicle type, from city cars to luxury plug-in hybrid SUVs, whether front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Finally, technologies within the eTwinsterX system also mean that it is the first eAxle in the world to have full off-road capabilities. The system also boasts of industry-leading efficiency, with a unique two-speed transmission that transmits the drive motor’s power, optimising gear changes for the best possible efficiency, with seamless shift performance.
Continental said that battery cell development is a key factor for the breakthrough of e-mobility. The company also sees electric motors becoming smaller, lighter and more affordable, with an example of this being its highly-integrated drive, which combines the transmission and electronics in a single module with low weight. This 75 kg power pack currently has a power rating of 150 kW, which can be increased to 320 kW.
Electrified mobility is a topic that Bosch has been developing solutions for over a long period of time, and it showcased some of its newest technologies around this area at IAA 2017. The main technologies being showcased by the company include the e-axle modular drive for EVs, which is said to be compact, cost-optimised and efficient. The other solution being demonstrated is Bosch’s intelligent thermal management system, which helps increase the range of EVs by up to 25 %. Other technologies showcased by Bosch include common-rail diesel injection system with solenoid injectors with system pressure of up to 2,500 bar; 48-volt battery; vehicle control unit; and powertrain systems for light EVs.
CONNECTIVITY, SAFETY, COMFORT & CONVENIENCE
Connectivity is one of the foundations of assisted/autonomous driving, and therefore has been an important area of development for automotive component and technology suppliers. However, with the growth in development of AD, automakers are also looking at offering this future mobility solution with creature comforts in addition to the obvious safety and efficiency requirements. We are also seeing an increase of hybridisation, in terms of the conglomeration of technologies like electrification and AD to offer the best solutions for future mobility.
In line with this, we see that Continental is offering a few solutions that help in making future mobility both safer and more convenient. In terms of safety, Continental has introduced two new tyre technology concepts for greater road safety and comfort in the future. The two systems - ContiSense and ContiAdapt - enable continuous monitoring of the tyre’s condition, as well as situation-matched adaptation of tyre performance characteristics to prevailing road conditions. ContiSense is based on the development of electrically-conductive rubber compounds that enable electric signals to be sent from a sensor in the tyre to a receiver in the car. Meanwhile, ContiAdapt combines micro-compressors integrated into the wheel to adjust the tyre pressure with a variable-width rim, and can modify the size of the contact patch, which under different road conditions is a decisive factor for both safety and comfort.
This is addition to Continental’s Cockpit Vision 2025, which from a comfort and safety view provides occupants and drivers the comprehensive HMI and link to their mobile devices, other road users, infrastructure and the cloud. This enables the vehicle to become a digital companion that is completely interconnected at all times. This Integrated Interior Platform operates functions relevant to safety, such as instrumentation, as well as functions from the cloud or infotainment, securely and stably using a single piece of hardware. This merging of separate domains in the cockpit is enabling Continental to lay the groundwork for a fully updatable interior that can also use functions flexibly across all applications. It allows information to be positioned anywhere, with the option to move content dynamically, meaning there is now nothing standing in the way of personalized cockpits.
Meanwhile, high-performance plastics supplier Igus is showcasing its E2 micro e-chain, which has been specially-designed for minimal installation spaces and is currently being used in electric sliding doors. It is available in various sizes for a wide range of application scenarios in the automobile, from the windshield wiper to the tailgate, and is suited to ensure energy and signal supply lines safely. This e-chain has been designed to address the requirements for autonomous door systems, which are increasing from a standard 200,000 opening and closing cycles to 500,000 cycles. The company also said that the number of seat and mirror adjustments per day also increases during car sharing and stresses the energy systems. This requires a fail-safe and long-lasting guidance of the moving cables in very small spaces, for which the use of energy chains is optimal.
At IAA 2017, ZF Friedrichshafen focussed on the topic of ‘Vision Zero.’ The company also announced that it has mostly completed integration of TRW Automotive, and presented itself as One Company at the event. At the expo, ZF is demonstrating its Vision Zero Vehicle at the New Mobility World section, as well as how its intelligent mechanical systems are contributing toward Vision Zero today. Examples include the modular mSTARS rear axle system that enables conventional vehicle platforms to be converted to electric, and ADAS that can detect driver distraction or potential wrong-way driving.
With all this increase in electronics and data collection, there comes a need for securing all this information received for safe analysis and storage. In light of this, Honeywell and Lear Corporation announced of their collaboration to provide automotive software technology and infrastructure solutions to address threats associated with emerging connected and autonomous vehicle development. The automotive supplies are working together to detect and report software anomalies for OEMs, with effective data collection being the first step in achieving best practices advised by NHTSA. Bosch also showcased connectivity and security solutions for connected vehicles in the form of its safe over-the-air vehicle updates, HMI solutions and cloud-based connectivity solutions.
Another area of development seen by a number of suppliers was in the area of seats for autonomous vehicles. The focus of most companies was in showcasing seats that are lightweight, with high levels of electric and electronic controls to be moved around inside the cabin to form spaces of formal and informal settings. This is especially important for AD, where the occupants, including the driver are at liberty to perform tasks other than driving for extended periods of time. Another important task of interiors is in providing easy access to the cabin while entering and exiting the vehicle, which also leads to powering the seats and then connecting them with the doors for instantly-quick access to the interiors. Companies like Brose, Adient and Autoliv showcased such interior technologies of the future.
It can be said that the growth of participation of the supplier community has increased tremendously at the IAA. While connectivity, AD and electrification are the main area of focus for suppliers, the whole eco-system of electronics, data, safety and security play a major role in defining the development needs of the automotive sector as a whole. Additionally, new sensors and associated control units are ultimately paving the way for the next stage in AD providing growing potential for technology and system suppliers in the future.