Ever more electronics technology is being integrated into luxury automobiles such as automated parking, and soon pedestrian protection will be integrated based on a stereo video camera.
Other innovations are intelligent headlight control, integrated cruise assist, traffic jam assist, automatic park assist, and pedestrian protection, just to name a few safety solutions that are coming that will make roads safer with more integrated electronics.
One example of this is the Bosch Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). A radar sensor monitors the road situations ahead of the vehicle. A radar transmitter sends out signals reflected by objects in front of the vehicle. The reflected signal is received by the auto and calculates the distance, direction, and relative speed of the vehicle ahead. ACC predicts the course of the vehicle in which it is installed and makes decisions on whether vehicles on the road ahead are relevant for distance control.
Bosch has also developed a Mid-Range Radar Sensor (MRR), which includes a rear-facing version as well as the front-facing sensor as a more cost-effective and scalable design. These designs use the approved worldwide automotive frequency of 76 GHz to 77 GHz. Its antenna is capable of ranges up to 160 meters (MRR) or 100 meters (MRR rear) with a field view of as much as 45 degrees (MRR) or 150 degrees (MRR rear).
We will soon be seeing features like night vision systems with thermal imaging, which will need sensor conditioning and CCD image processing integration; active cabin noise suppression with a system similar to noise-cancelling headphones; advanced battery power management systems; driver alertness monitoring systems that will look at eye movements and blinking rates of the driver, head movements like nods and tilt, facial expressions via non-invasive cameras — all of these and more will need more sophisticated sensor and analog integration with microcontroller and software.
The integration will be challenging in this relatively harsh environment of an automobile. What new innovations do you see coming in automobiles in the near future that will challenge integrated electronics?
In the meantime, check out some images from how systems like the ACC work. Please click the photo to start the image gallery.
(Source: US Dept. of Transportation)