Doing away with car keys

Using the latest developments, keys are no longer needed to unlock the doors or start the engine

At the recent Equip Auto ’99 Exhibition in Paris – the automotive show that covers everything from design to maintenance – were a number of ideas, some already being fitted to the latest designs and some of which were still being developed for specific vehicles. From Siemens came an electronic system for access control, driver authorisation and immobilisation developed for the latest S-class Mercedes-Benz. It is chip card based locking and safety technology, available as an option known as Keyless-Go.

Searches for the car keys are a thing of the past. Keyless-Go operates everything from access control to unlocking all the car doors, from deactivating the immobiliser to enabling the ignition. The only `active’ steps to be taken by the driver are to carry the chip card with him, and to approach the car. To enter the driver simply pulls the door handle as usual. To start the engine, the driver simply presses a button.

An invisible dialogue brings about the opening and starting effects. As soon as the door handle – which doubles as a capacitance sensor – is touched, the receiver and transmitter unit integrated in the card is scanned by the `control centre’ in the vehicle. The ensuing encrypted data exchange, which is copy-proof, takes place in a matter of milliseconds. If the control unit recognises the card, the doors are unlocked.

Starting the engine is achieved by pressing the start-stop button on the selector-lever knob. The immobiliser is only deactivated via a bidirectional encryption process. The electronic selector-lever lock is unlocked and the ignition is enabled once the control unit has ascertained by means of a second check that the card and driver are in the correct seat.

The chip card system has the potential to integrate many more functions, and is well on the way to becoming an all-round terminal that is capable of storing service and workshop data in the future. Future development of the chip could include satellite-supported vehicle tracking.

Siemens Automotive Systems Tel: +49 941 790 5594