Bosch unveils auto safety systems

Engineers in Germany have unveiled an innovative driver assistance system that automatically stops vehicles from spinning out of control in the event of a collision.

According to Dr Werner Struth, president of chassis systems at Bosch, 29 per cent of all accidents in which people are injured feature an initial collision and a series of further ones as the driver loses control. The secondary collision mitigation (SCM) system, which is now ready for production, aims to eat into these statistics.

The system combines data from the airbag and the Bosch Electronic Stability Program (ESP): an increasingly ubiquitous technology that is now fitted on 50 per cent of all new European cars and is set to become mandatory in Europe by 2014. In the event of crash, the airbag sensors register the collision and the airbag unit calculates the force and direction of the impact. This information is then sent to the ESP unit, which automatically triggers the brakes and brings the vehicle to a halt.

Struth said that the requirement for such systems, one of a number of technologies demonstrated at Bosch’s biannual automotive technology showcase, is being driven partly by the changing shape of today’s cars. ‘With the growing trend toward smaller and lighter vehicles in Europe and the US, accident prevention systems have become all the more important. Better active and passive safety systems and driver assistance systems must bolster the structural safety of smaller and lighter vehicles,’ he explained.

The company also presented an automatic emergency braking system, which is designed to reduce rear-end collisions. Due to enter production later in the year, this system combines the existing radar sensors in Bosch’s adaptive cruise-control technology with video sensors that monitor the road ahead in even greater detail.

When the system senses that a collision could be imminent, it automatically applies a braking force equivalent to 30 per cent of deceleration to give the driver time to react. If it then determines that an accident is unavoidable, it instigates an emergency stop. Bosch believes that the technology could reduce the speed of impact by 55 per cent. ‘According to our estimates, automatic emergency braking will be able to prevent three out of four rear-end collisions involving serious injury,’ said Struth.

The coming months will also see the introduction of some of the first systems to exploit the safety benefits of navigation technology, according to the company’s car multimedia chief, Dr Dirk Hoheisel. ‘Navigation can make a significant contribution to driving safety because it is able to recognise the route, the traffic conditions and the area in which particular caution is advised,’ he said.

Hoheisel added that this year will see the commercial launch of a curve speed warning system that uses prior knowledge of a driver’s route to warn if the car is travelling into a curve too quickly. Future systems will be even more advanced, he said: ‘Ongoing developments plan to have the curve warner provide information early to other vehicle systems as well so that the seat-belt tensioner is prepared or the braking systems instructed to provide for the corresponding braking pressure, just in case.’

Jon Excell