The automotive sun visor has been around for nearly a century, first affixed in 1924 as a “glare shield” on the outside of a Ford Model T. Yet despite modest advances—lighted vanity mirrors, anyone?—it’s still a crude, view-blocking slab that’s often as annoying as it is effective.
Bosch, finally, has a better idea: An AI-enhanced liquid crystal display (LCD) screen that links with a driver-monitoring camera to keep the sun out of your eyes without blocking the outward view. The German supplier debuted the Bosch Virtual Visor at the recent CES show in Las Vegas.
It wouldn’t be enough to have the backing of a big car company, though Aeva has that. In April the company announced a partnership with Audi, and today it’s doing so with Porsche—the two upscale realms of the Volkswagen auto empire.
Nor is it enough to claim that truly driverless cars are just around the bend. We’ve seen that promise made and broken many times.
What makes this two-year-old company worth a look-see is its technology, which is unusual both for its miniaturization and for the way in which it modulates its laser beam.
The term “5G” typically makes people think of the smartphone in their hand, not the tires on their car. But Pirelli has developed the Cyber Tire, a smart tire that reads the road surface and transmits key data — including the potential risk of hydroplaning — along a 5G communications network.
Pirelli demonstrated its Cyber Tire (also known as the Cyber Tyre) at a conference hosted by the 5G Automotive Association, atop the architect Renzo Piano’s reworking of the landmark Lingotto Building in Turin, Italy. That’s the former Fiat factory where classic models such as the Torpedo and 500 (the latter known as Topolino, or “Little Mouse”) barrelled around its banked, three-quarter-mile rooftop test track beginning in the 1920’s. Engineers of that era, of course, couldn’t begin to fathom how digital technology would transform automobiles, let alone the revolution in tires that has dramatically boosted their performance, durability and safety.
Using an Audi A8 as its test car, Pirelli’s network-enabled tires sent real-time warnings of slippery conditions to a following Audi Q8, taking advantage of the ultra-high bandwidth and low latency of 5G. Corrado Rocca, head of Cyber R&D for Pirelli, said that an accelerometer mounted within the tire itself—rather than the wheel rims that send familiar tire-pressure readouts in many modern cars—precisely measures handling forces along three axes. That includes the ability to sense water, ice or other low-coefficient of friction roadway conditions.
The sensor data can be used to the immediate benefit of safety and autonomous systems onboard a car. It can also be used in the growing realm of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) or vehicle-to-x communications (V2X), which means the once-humble tire could become a critical player in a wider ecosystem of networked safety and traffic management. Obvious scenarios include a car on the freeway that suddenly encounters ice, with tires that instantly send visual or audio hazard warnings not only to that car but also to nearby vehicle and pedestrians, as well as to networked roadway signs that announce the potential danger, or adjust prevailing speed limits accordingly.
“No other element of a car is as connected to the road as the tire,” Rocca reminds us. “There are many modern sensors; lidar, sonar, cameras, but nothing on the ‘touching’ side of the car.’”
Virtually every new car is equipped with anti-lock brakes (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC) systems, which also spring into action when a car’s wheels begin to slip, or when a car begins to slide off the driver’s intended course. But the Cyber Tire could further improve those systems, Rocca said, allowing a car to proactively adjust those safety systems, or automatically slow itself down in response to changing roadway conditions.
“Because we’re sensing the ground constantly, we can warn of the risk of hydroplaning well before you lose control,” Rocca says. “The warning could appear on a screen, or the car could automatically decide to correct it with ABS or ESC.”
Aside from data on dynamic loads, the Cyber Tire’s internal sensor might also communicate in-car information specific to that tire model, or the kilometers of travel it has absorbed.
Pirelli is also developing the technology for race circuits and driving enthusiasts, with its Italia Track Adrenaline tire. With tire temperatures dramatically affecting traction, wear and safety, this version monitors temperatures, pressure and handling forces in real time. That combines with onboard GPS and telemetry data to help drivers improve their on-track skills. The system could deliver simple real-time instructions — such as color-coded screen readouts as a tire rises to or beyond optimal operating temperature—or using popular telemetry tools, a granular analysis of the tire’s performance after a lapping session. (At the highest levels of Formula One racing, cars are equipped with roughly 140 sensors, which collect 20 to 30 megabytes of telemetry data every lap).
With 5G, V2V and V2X systems still in the development phase, Pirelli can’t say when it sensor-enabled hunks of rubber will reach the market. Automakers ultimately lead the adoption of new tire technology, and many are leery of new tech until they’re sure consumers will pay for it. Car companies are also cautious about ceding the networked space in their cars to outside suppliers—witness their glacial, grudging adoption of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. But Pirelli says it’s working with major automakers on integrating the technology. And Rocca says that, like ABS in its nascent stages, smart tires could become common on vehicles within a decade. It’s almost enough to get us wishing for a winter storm to try them out.
The Formula Student is an international educational engineering competition in which teams of students from around the world design, build, and race their own formula race cars. The competition includes 3 categories: Electric, Driverless, and Combustible cars. The challenge is not only to build the fastest race car, but also to show the best behavior in endurance, acceleration, or skid pad for example.
The Importance of the IMU/GNSS for Precise Car Dynamics
The IMU/GNSS provides decisive information on the car state such as position, speed, yaw rate, slip angle, acceleration and orientation to the competing teams’ cars, as stated by D. Kiesewalter, from AMZ Racing: “We required an IMU for several reasons. Primarily to determine the position state of our car. We also needed to have efficient dynamics control & a reliable and accurate determination of Euler Angles (roll, pitch, and heading).” This way, engineers of electric and combustible cars can understand what to improve by comparing the actual state to the theoretical one.
Mastering acceleration is primordial during Formula races. When the car accelerates too much, it can drift, which causes the wheels to wear out. To minimize tire wear and get the most of the engine’s power and performance, acceleration has to be checked.
Tracking the race car trajectory is essential. A circuit analysis is conducted thanks to the IMU/GNSS data, especially position, and helps determine if the car is well positioned inside the circuit or when turning.
Let’s not forget that the Formula Student is a race. One of the competition goals is to go faster on the track than the other teams. Speed is therefore a crucial factor to study, thanks to the IMU/GNSS. But it is even more important for electric race cars, as they need to track the consumed energy.
Driverless Race Cars: Taking the Best of Heading and Navigation out of the IMU/GNSS
If a single-antenna GPS based heading is enough for racing cars, driverless vehicles require a more precise heading provided by a dual-antenna GNSS/IMU. It allows faster initialization and delivers true heading even in stationary position. J. Liberal Huarte from UPC Driverless (ETSEIB) explains that heading and localization are essential for other parts of the equipment to function properly: “When we operate with LiDAR technologies, the fact that you are headed 1 degree to one side or the other influences a lot the position. So, precise heading is a big requirement. And also, localization and mapping: it is very important to localize yourself in the X, Y.”Therefore, implementing a Dual GNSS/IMU in this type of race car is the best solution, as it provides true heading and position, which also helps stabilize the LiDAR.
Heading is as important as precise navigation for driverless race cars. Real Time Kinematic (RTK) allows an extremely accurate estimation of the position (1-2 cm). The more accurate the IMU/GNSS is, the more the car is able to stay in the circuit lane without drifting.
The IMU/GNSS also helps conduct a circuit analysis that determines if the car is well positioned and so optimizes the trajectory.
Less Implementation Time = More Time for the Whole Project
“We have very small test time, so if it goes fast, we can go faster on the track and test more”, states A. Kopp, Vehicle Dynamics Control, TUfast Racing. Teams don’t have much time to integrate the different parts of the vehicle and to test them. As CAN and ROS framework are mainly used by automobile engineers, IMU/GNSS that can be part of such workflows can save tremendous time of development. A clean C library provided with examples is another way to help teams with their integration.
About SBG Systems IMU/GNSS
SBG Systems is an international company which develops Inertial Measurement Unit with embedded GNSS, from miniature to high accuracy ranges. Combined with cutting-edge calibration techniques and advanced embedded algorithms, SBG Systems manufactures inertial solutions for industrial & research projects such as unmanned vehicle control (land, marine, and aerial), antenna tracking, camera stabilization, and surveying applications.
SBG Systems supports new ways to design cars. Students are welcome to send their sponsorship application through our website.
Vayyar says there are at least four good reasons to monitor passengers with radar instead of cameras
Used to be, when we said the walls had ears, it meant there were microphones hidden in them. Now, when we say the walls have eyes, will it mean they have radar?
Maybe so, at least in your car. Vayyar Imaging, a firm based in Tel Aviv, says it has a radar chip that can form a three-dimensional view of what’s going on inside a car as well as outside of it. Right now, though, it’s concentrating on the inside, because there’s a regulatory push to having in-cabin observation in place in the early 2020s, and Vayyar thinks it has a head start.
Everyone else seems to be banking on cameras, including infrared cameras, to do this job. You can buy such a system right now: the Cadillac CT6 Super Cruise. That car can drive itself for extended periods, but it uses a camera to scrutinize the driver for signs of distraction or fatigue to make sure that, if a problem comes up that the system can’t solve, it can safely hand control back to the human.
3D cameras already help us make 3D emoji/animoji. Now, ams wants to use 3D sensing to help smartphones capture more accurate colors
Cameras that scan and render objects in 3D are now a standard feature in many smartphones, drones, robots, and automobiles. Paired with the right software, these cameras are making it possible to sense light levels, movements, and textures in more places, and at a lower cost, than was previously possible.
ams (located on the former grounds of an Austrian castle) produces the tiny lasers and low-power light sensors that many of these camera systems rely on to identify hand gestures or track eye movements in an instant. The company’s technology must produce accurate results for a wide variety of consumer and industrial devices that operate in very different environments.
ams has a team of 1,200 engineers, and as demand has grown, ams has focused its R&D resources and budget on designing components for three types of 3D sensing: structured light, time-of-flight, and active stereo vision.
Bosch expects the first flying taxi service to take off in a major city by 2023
Bosch today said it plans to sell a universal control unit for flying cars that combines dozens of sensors that have been proven in cars on the ground.
“The first flying taxis are set to take off in major cities starting in 2023, at the latest,” Harald Kröger, president of the Bosch Automotive Electronics division, said in a statement. “Bosch plans to play a leading role in shaping this future market.”
Among the many sensors in the universal, plug-and-play unit are MEMS-based acceleration sensors. These include yaw-rate sensors to measure the angle of attack—that is, the plane’s angle with respect to the oncoming air. This was the quality that was mismeasured by the sensors and misinterpreted by the control unit of the Boeing 737 Max, contributing to the two crashes of that airliner.
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