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Toyoda Gosei, Toyota develop steering wheel with grip sensor for autonomous driving; new anechoic chamber

Toyoda Gosei Co., Ltd. has developed Japan’s first steering wheel with a grip sensor, which is compatible with today’s advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Toyoda Gosei jointly developed this new steering wheel with Toyota Motor Corporation. These steering wheels can detect whether the driver is gripping the steering wheel, and will be used on the new Lexus LS.

Vehicles equipped with ADAS have automatic brakes, devices to keep vehicles in their driving lane and other advanced functions, but the steering wheel must still be gripped by the driver for emergency operation. The newly developed steering wheel has sensors embedded in the wheel that can detect the driver’s grip with a high level of precision. The vehicle determines whether the driver’s hands are on the steering wheel or not, and sends a signal.

These steering wheels also have heaters to warm the steering wheel during winter. Normally this would require both a heating element and a sensing element. With design modifications, Toyoda Gosei succeeded for the first time in combining the two elements. This provides the sensor function with no loss to heating performance and contributes to lighter weight.

As autonomous driving systems will increasingly assist drivers in vehicle operation, Toyoda Gosei aims to integrate various functions in the steering wheel, a key point of driver-vehicle contact, or the human machine interface (HMI).

Anechoic chamber. The company has also installed a new anechoic chamber at its Miwa Technical Center to develop high value-added modules that can be used with future autonomous driving technologies. Anechoic chambers block electromagnetic waves from the outside and suppress reflection of electromagnetic waves on the inside, so that the frequency range and strength of electromagnetic waves emitted from a product can be accurately measured.

The company has long provided a large number of parts for the cockpit area and area around the front grille. With advances in autonomous driving, these areas are expected to confer various functions that create more comfortable interior spaces, and to be equipped with greater numbers of sensors that detect surrounding conditions.

With the increasing number of electronic components used in autonomous driving, it will become more and more important to prevent interference between these electromagnetic waves. The new anechoic chamber is a state-of-the-art facility that can simultaneously measure electromagnetic waves with a wide range of properties emitted from various directions from multiple products, improving the reliability of products equipped with many electronic components.


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