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Audi at CeBIT in Hanover with new A3 to highlight Audi connect; future role of Car-to-X communication

9 March 2012

Concurrent with its presence at the Geneva Motor Show, Audi is appearing at CeBIT in Hanover for the first time. There, under the “Audi connect” banner, it is presenting current and future solutions for mobile IT applications at the world’s biggest trade fair for information technology. Among the highlights is the new Audi A3, introduced at the Geneva show: the first Audi model to use the modular infotainment platform. Audi is the first premium automotive manufacturer to have a substantial presence at CeBIT.

Audi connect links the vehicle with the driver, the Internet, the infrastructure and with other vehicles. Audi owners with a Bluetooth online car phone can connect to the Internet via a UMTS module, and soon via 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution). LTE enables data rates of up to 150 MBit/s and considerably faster response times, and can also play an important role in future car-to-X communication, Audi notes.

Car-to-X. Car-to-X communication opens up many new opportunities for making driving safer, more relaxed and more economical. Cars networked with each other can alert drivers to wet or icy roads; they can also communicate to avoid accidents at, for example, intersections. If they are networked with traffic lights, such vehicles can accurately anticipate green lights for uninterrupted cruising. Insights into traffic flows can promote an energy-efficient driving style—especially important for electric mobility.

There are two different scenarios for the establishment of car-to-X technology which Audi is helping to promote. In the one scenario, the LTE mobile communications network plays a key role. It routes data centrally to the servers of service providers, who then transmit individually prepared data to individual vehicles.

The other scenario relies on decentralized communication via automotive WLAN. Cars send data spontaneously and autonomously from one vehicle to another in a chain, which represents a new form of collective intelligence.

This new standard was specially designed for mobile applications. Automotive WLAN, which operates at a frequency of 5.9 GHz, has a range of about two kilometers and is even suitable for very high driving speeds. In the European catalog of communication standards, it is listed as standard ITS-G5; the acronym ITS stands for “intelligent transportation systems.” A special antenna is needed in addition to a receiver module on an automobile’s roof.

Audi development projects in the car-to-X field include the intersection assistant and what is known as street preview. Similar to Audi online traffic information, it notifies the driver of traffic conditions along a selected route. In this project, however, data is transferred by automotive WLAN: suitably equipped vehicles act as transmitters and mutually inform one another of traffic conditions.

Even with relatively few vehicles, this system generates the very latest and precise representations of traffic situations. Audi and other German carmakers want to introduce WLAN-based street preview as soon as possible; it is set to be launched this decade.

Car-to-X communication also bears great potential regarding headlights. One of many conceivable scenarios is a car stopped at a red light or stuck in a traffic jam. During this period, the headlights are considerably dimmed or switched off completely to save energy and to avoid potentially annoying other road users. When cars are able to exchange data directly, they can coordinate the brightness of their headlights in dense stop-and-go traffic or at intersections, for instance. Roads can thus always be effectively illuminated without drivers’ eyes being dazzled.

Future driver assistance systems. Driver assistance systems that Audi is developing for the near future include:

  • Traffic jam assistant. The traffic jam assistant can relieve the driver at times when driving is not much fun, such as in congested traffic. At speeds between zero and 60 km/h (37 mph), the system helps to steer the car within certain constraints. It also accelerates and brakes autonomously.

    The traffic jam assistant is based on the functionality of adaptive cruise control with stop & go, extended by adding the component of lateral guidance. Two radar sensors monitor everything up to 250 meters (820.21 feet) ahead of the vehicle as per a scanning angle of about 35 degrees. A wide-angle video camera monitors the lane markings; it can also detect objects such as other vehicles, pedestrians and guardrails. Eight ultrasonic sensors monitor zones directly in front of the car and at its corners.

    If ACC stop & go is turned on, the traffic jam assistant continuously analyzes the car’s speed and the speeds of nearby vehicles. If it detects a traffic jam from the data at speeds below 60 km/h (37 mph), the driver can activate its functionality by pressing a button.

    The corridor within which the traffic jam assistant controls the car permits a certain gap to the vehicle ahead. The radar sensors detect not only the vehicle ahead but also others, which enables the system to recognize a de facto lane even in the absence of lane markings. The traffic jam assistant behaves exactly like Audi ACC stop & go in accelerating and braking; it also reacts to cars moving into or out of the lane.

  • Audi pre sense city. Many existing Audi vehicles can slow themselves down over the last few meters before an imminent collision if the driver is no longer able to intervene. Automatic maximum braking initiated by the vehicle in urban traffic, also known as Audi pre sense city, is based on a new type of sensor technology; Audi played a major role in its fundamental development.

    The PMD sensor (PMD: photo mix detector) is a small chip that can measure distances in three dimensions, and it can do so more precisely than conventional sensors. It can detect moving and stationary targets alike; moreover, it actively operates in darkness, rain or bright sunshine.

    If a collision seems imminent at speeds below 65 km/h (40 mph), Audi pre sense city warns the driver by briefly pulsing the brakes. If the driver does not react, the system applies full braking force about one second before impact. This can reduce the speed at impact by up to 30 km/h (19 mph).

    Another important function is anticipatory protection of pedestrians, which the PMD sensor can detect at distances of up to 20 meters (66 ft). If it signals a potentially hazardous situation, the system decides whether emergency braking is necessary. If so, full braking would ideally begin about one second before impact in this case, too. The maximum possible speed reduction of 30 km/h (19 mph) is sometimes enough to bring the car to a full stop in time to prevent a collision. The anticipatory pre sense technology offers very good protection for cyclists, as well.

  • Active emergency braking. Audi is developing another configuration of the pre sense system that can automatically perform full braking at speeds over 65 km/h (40 mph). Its core component is a laser scanner: a technology whose strengths lie in long-distance scanning, a high level of precision and a large scanning angle. The laser also scans zones to the sides in front of the car, which lets it detect construction activities on the edge of the road.

    If there is an obstacle in front of the vehicle, such as the end of a traffic jam, the system evaluates whether the driver can still take evasive action. If evasive action is no longer possible, a timely warning is provided, and automatic full braking is initiated as necessary. This strategy achieves deceleration from relatively high vehicle speeds, which in turn can significantly reduce accident severity. It can also help in situations where the driver cannot react due to a medical emergency. In some scenarios, the system’s braking interventions could conceivably prevent accidents despite high initial speeds.

  • Active seatbelt buckle. Audi is continually working to enhance its restraint systems. Another potential innovation: active seatbelt buckles for rear passengers that are moved by small electric motors. When a rear door is opened, the active seatbelt buckle would move upward several centimeters to make it easier for passengers to buckle up; it would then return to its rest position. In case of an imminent collision, the buckle would be moved downward somewhat to pretension the seat belt; this process would be reversible.

    As a general practice, Audi will be networking the adaptive restraint system more intensively with new assistance technologies. Forward-looking sensors such as PMD diodes can usually identify an imminent collision a few seconds before it occurs while also estimating the speed and size of the other vehicle. The adaptive belt force limiters and adaptive front airbags are triggered based on this information.

  • Intersection assistant. The intersection assistant was designed to help avoid collisions, or reduce their severity, wherever lanes merge and at intersections. Two radar sensors and a wide-angle video camera scan zones to the front and sides of the vehicle. The radar-based data takes the lead here, while the camera data is used for adjustments. If the sensors detect a vehicle approaching from the side and view the situation as critical, the system informs and warns the driver over a number of stages.

    Audi is exploring a second variant, which is an extension of the sensor-supported intersection assistant. It is based on car-to-X communication and utilizes automotive WLAN between the two vehicles that could potentially become involved in an accident. This could be supplemented by a hardwired modem, which could also consider the colors of traffic lights when gauging a situation.

    Car-to-X technology exhibits a number of strengths. For one, it can operate at intersections where the line of sight of sensors fitted on the vehicle may be blocked. It is also effective over long distances and transmits vehicle-specific information. This information could be used to adapt airbag deployment to the weight of the other accident vehicle, for example.

  • Warning system for backing out of parking spaces. Backing out of a parking space at right angles to the road can often be a tricky maneuver. If, for instance, a delivery van parked next to him is blocking the driver’s view of the traffic passing at right angles behind his own car, he must cautiously edge the car out into the street. A warning system for backing out of parking spaces makes this process easier.

    The system utilizes the two Audi side assist radar sensors at the rear of the vehicle. They measure and interpret the distance, speed and anticipated driving paths of vehicles detected in cross traffic. Predicted collision risks are displayed.

  • Warning when opening the door. The exit warning system also utilizes the radar sensors of Audi side assist. This system offers excellent assistance when exiting the vehicle on busy roads. When the driver or a passenger starts to open a door, the sensors check whether a vehicle or cyclist is approaching from the rear at a hazardous distance and a critical speed. If it is not advisable to open the door at that moment, the driver or passenger is provided with a warning.

  • Piloted parking. When parking in narrow spaces that are perpendicular to the driving lane or in garages in which there are not just cars but also bicycles and other items, parking is often so tight that the driver must struggle to get out of the car afterwards. The park pilot, a further technological vision from Audi, could solve these problems.

    Utilizing technology that is installed in an Audi prototype, the driver can exit the vehicle in front of the garage and instruct it to autonomously park itself via the remote key fob or by smartphone. With the help of its ultrasonic sensors, the car drives into the parking space or the garage, stopping immediately if it detects an obstacle. Upon reaching its final position, it shuts off the engine, deactivates the ignition and locks the doors. Finally, it sends a confirmation to the driver.

    Another future configuration would allow Audi vehicles to autonomously pull into and back out of parking spaces in multi-level parking facilities and underground parking lots. The driver could simply get out of the car at the entrance and retrieve it there later—the car will handle the rest by itself. The parking facility’s central computer would monitor the vehicle’s movements by radar and guide it via WLAN to the nearest available parking space. For its part, the Audi would monitor its surroundings by means of 12 ultrasonic sensors and four video cameras.

A3. The new Audi A3 will launch with three four-cylinder engines, all of which are essentially new developments: one TDI and two TFSI engines with 90 kW (122 hp) to 132 kW (180 hp). Compared to the previous model, fuel economy of the new A3 was improved by about 12% on average—with some engines the savings are even greater. The model with the 1.6 TDI engine consumes 3.8 liters of diesel/100 km (62 mpg US), equivalent to 99 g/CO2 (159 g/mile).

Versions with hybrid and alternative drive systems such as natural gas and Audi e-gas are currently in development.

Driver assistance systems range from radar-assisted adaptive cruise control to Audi side assist, Audi active lane assist, traffic sign detection, park assist and the Audi pre sense basic safety system.

March 9, 2012 in Connected vehicles, Safety, Vehicle Manufacturers, Vehicle Systems | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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