DETROIT, MI -- Executives from Continental Automotive yesterday spun out an automotive vision in which future vehicles will communicate with one another and with their own sub-systems in an effort to boost highway safety.
Speaking at the SAE 2008 World Congress here at Cobo Hall, the executives described autonomous wireless messages that could be passed between vehicles, enabling them to “know” whether the roads ahead were slippery or whether a certain highway was blocked by an accident or an emergency vehicle. They also stressed the importance of a future in which wireless connectivity would enhance entertainment and sensors would enable vehicles to make better decisions.
“We want cars to be intelligent in the future,” said Helmut Matschi, president of Continental Interior. “We want them to be able to talk to other cars.”
Company representatives said the key to such a future is the ability for sub-systems and sensors to glean information from the vehicle and the environment and then share that information in a way that promotes highway safety. The company is currently working on such technologies, they said.
“We’ve got sensors in the tires,” said Kieran O’Sullivan, executive vice president of Continental’s Automotive Systems Connectivity Business Unit. “And we’ve got sensors around the vehicle that can take information, convert it and deploy it to trailing vehicles in a form that tells them, ‘Slow down. There are icy conditions ahead.’”
O’Sullivan said such car-to-car sharing could also be augmented by car-to-infrastructure communications. Such communications might enable cars to be aware of emergency vehicles in the road ahead or might even enable a bridge to send out a message that it’s slippery.
“If you’re coming off a highway and the database knows there’s curve in the road ahead, the car might tell you, ‘You shouldn’t be going so fast,’” O’Sullivan said.
Matschi and O’Sullivan also said smart software could reduce or eliminate driver distraction and could use car-to-car messages to prepare vehicle sub-systems, such as anti-lock brakes or stability control systems, for potential dangers.
“Vehicles today are much like cell phones,” O’Sullivan said. “They’re becoming a node on a much broader network.”