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Fraunhofer's C2X system can help drivers gauge everything from slippery road conditions to speeds at which to make traffic lights.

On Electronics - March 2011

Networking VehiclesThe Fraunhofer Institute for Communications Systems ESK (esk.fraunhofer.de) has developed a car-to-x (C2X) communication system that networks between vehicles and infrastructure to keep drivers more in-tune with their surroundings.

Networking Vehicles
The Fraunhofer Institute for Communications Systems ESK (esk.fraunhofer.de) has developed a car-to-x (C2X) communication system that networks between vehicles and infrastructure to keep drivers more in-tune with their surroundings.

While the system in a vehicle is similar to a standard GPS unit, instead of receiving signals from a satellite, it communicates vehicle speed and acceleration data to roadside node units (RSUs). These RSUs then send the data to other C2X-equipped vehicles on the road to increase driver awareness. For example, if the RSUs detect vehicles simultaneously braking and traveling slowly in an area, it will alert drivers of a possible traffic jam. If sliding vehicles are detected, drivers will be warned of slick road conditions. Drivers can also be informed of the best travel speeds to avoid red lights along their route.

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Increased Fuel Efficiency with Start-Stop Technology
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that Americans waste about 3 billion gallons of fuel each year idling in traffic jams and waiting for red lights. Start-stop systems, which automatically shut off and restart the engine, are one way to conserve fuel and reduce emissions in these situations. DENSO (globaldenso.com) has developed a new family of easy-to-package start-stop systems. It has three types: in its Advanced Engagement (AE), Tandem Solenoid (TS) and Permanently Engaged (PE). The systems can achieve up to a 5% fuel savings. The AE and PE systems are already available in Europe: the TS is expected to go into production by the end of 2011. All three systems are expected to enter the North American market by 2012.

Denso's Permanently Engaged (PE) start/stop system eliminates pinion gear shifting to engage the flywheel.

The AE starter behaves much like a conventional starter—with a big difference being that this occurs whenever the vehicle reaches 0 rpm (e.g., the driver applies the brakes to stop the vehicle; the fuel is shut off to the engine; the engine comes to a complete stop). Once the driver presses the accelerator pedal, the starter is energized, and the pinion shifts forward to spin the flywheel. To accommodate the increase in starting cycles, its electrical brushes are six to 10 times more durable than those in a conventional Denso starter. Additionally, its pinion spring mechanism is designed to reduce friction between the pinion gear and ring gear by 90%.

Unlike the AE starter, the TS and PE systems can shut down and restart the engine while the vehicle is coasting, before it comes to a complete stop. This helps eliminates lag in the restarting process because the flywheel may still be rotating. The TS starter accomplishes this through a co-axial dual solenoid for control of the starter’s pinion gear shifting and motor rotation. In the PE system, pinion gear shifting is completely eliminated. Instead the system is mounted to the engine, allowing for constant engagement with the flywheel to allow for even faster restart times. Both systems can increase fuel efficiency by 4 to 5%.

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High-speed, High-performing MFDs
Multi-function displays (MFDs) combine data of multiple vehicle components—such as the navigation system, radio, fuel gauge, speedometer, etc.—into one digital interface. MFDs are space-saving and convenient for drivers, but often characterized by limited memory, slow data transfer and high costs. Visteon (visteon.com) has developed a next-generation solution that reduces the complexity and cost of conventional MFDs, yet improves capabilities. It uses a high-performance microprocessor from Renesas Electronics, which enables the integration of more external components like in-vehicle cameras. It offers an additional 2.5 MB of RAM, enabling it to store more memory than traditional units, and a serial flash interface for faster data processing.

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Accident-detecting Sensor Cuts EV Voltage
Continental (conti-online.com) has developed a sensor to immediately shut off high-voltage batteries in electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the event of a collision. This enables rescue workers to quickly access accident victims without risking potentially fatal electric shocks of up to 400 volts.

They named it “evSAT” and it consists of an independ-ent triaxial acceleration sensor with a controller area network (CAN) interface. When it detects a frontal, rear or side collision, it transmits a signal to the battery management system, deactivating the battery within half a second. In the case of a rollover accident, the battery is deactivated within four seconds. (U.S. regu-lations require that the voltage of a vehicle electrical system fall to <60 volts within five seconds of an accident occurrence.) evSAT can easily be integrated into existing electric and plug-in hybrid platforms. The sensor will go into production for a German OEM in 2012.

 Continental has developed an evSAT sensor to immediately deactivate high-voltage batteries in electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

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