Continental continues to pursue car connectivity
Continental is continuing its ongoing plans to more fully “connect” cars. As far as the automotive supplier is concerned, it is not just about smartphones or computers, but rather, but rather connectivity is becoming an increasingly influential part of any sales proposition. For Conti, the connected vehicle will be a key subject of future developments. “Today, more and more new vehicle functions are already based on connectivity. To create innovative functions, we are linking vehicle components and systems ever more closely with one another and, at the same time, increasingly connecting the vehicle to the outside world,” explains Ralf Lenninger, head of the Strategy and Development department of Continental’s Interior division.
Up to now, drivers have been able to experience vehicle connectivity with the outside world mainly in the field of infotainment. A USB interface or Bluetooth are already more or less standard. “If we take a look at consumers’ behaviour it becomes obvious: In the next few years, the connection of vehicle infotainment features to the Internet will become more and more widespread,” continues Lenninger. Connection to the Internet can be via the vehicle’s own telematics box or through integration of a smartphone. Standards such as Near Field Communication or wireless charging are part of a growing infrastructure to integrate smartphones more and more smoothly in vehicles.
Conti using smartphones to store car driving preferences
Continental reports that it is working on using smartphones not only for music streaming and phone communication, but also as the vehicle key, for personalizing the seat position or for navigation purposes. Especially for the emerging markets, Continental is developing an innovative instrument cluster, which uses smartphone GPS data and navigation software, but displays the navigation instructions directly in the instrument cluster. The Continental development engineers are going with diversity to satisfy the changing demands drivers make on human-machine interfaces (HMI). Thus it is not only for design reasons that development work is focusing on curved touch screens, touch pads with character recognition and haptic feedback, or 3D screens. At the end of the day, the operation of the functions has to be primarily aligned to driving safety. To reduce driver distraction, Continental is also working on a concept that links the driving situation and the driver’s attentiveness.
In the “driver focus concept vehicle”, an infrared camera in the cockpit records the driver’s state of attention, and sensors in the driver assistance systems such as lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control detect a potentially hazardous situation. Both sources of information are integrated into an innovative HMI that uses a 360-degree LED light strip inside the vehicle to direct the driver’s attention directly to the hazardous situation. Thus distracted drivers are warned early about potential hazards.
In accordance with the Car2Car Communication Consortium, Continental foresees introduction of initial series applications starting in 2016. “With vehicle-to-X communication, we are basically expanding the sensing range of the vehicle’s own sensors by a cloud-based seventh sense. This makes the vehicle part of the Internet of Everything and creates the basis for an intelligent transport system with a whole new world of functions,” adds Lenninger. Online diagnostic services, parking space reservations or tailor-made insurance tariffs are just a few examples of the many possibilities. For fully automated vehicles, a real-time data carpet from the cloud providing exact information on the current traffic situation along the route ahead is one of the basics still to be developed.