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Automotive Technology

The Automotive Technology Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about electrical/electronic components, materials, design & assembly, and powertrain systems. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Slower Growth, But Opportunity Remains

Posted September 26, 2015 12:00 AM by IHS Engineering360 eNewsletter

While North American light vehicle production has been booming for five years, slower growth rates for the rest of the decade are expected. Yet plenty of opportunity remains for OEMs and suppliers alike, says IHS Industry Analyst Michael Robinet. Success will depend on flexible product design processes as well as efficient implementation of new technologies - both needed to keep pace with"significantly shorter" time periods between vehicle redesigns. The shorter timeframe, however, is precisely why Robinet sees opportunity.

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Autonomous Truck to Drive German Highways

Posted September 24, 2015 12:00 AM by IHS Engineering360 eNewsletter

Daimler has been granted permission to test its 18-wheel autonomousFuture Truck on public roads in Germany - the first time self-driving trucks will be allowed in everyday traffic. The company says the road trials will help it ready the technology and bring it to "series-production standard." Sensors, cameras, and steering intervention are used for self-driving operation. During the tests, a driver will be in the cab to take control if needed.

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4 comments; last comment on 09/25/2015
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Getting the Grid into the Driver's Seat

Posted August 26, 2015 8:51 AM by IHS Engineering360 eNewsletter

The power industry is facing a tough dilemma when it comes to charging electric cars. On one hand, lots of consumers need to first invest in electric cars in order to justify the cost of implementing new charging system infrastructure. But, consumers aren't going to spend that money until car-charging is convenient. So how does industry best address infrastructure needs and reassure consumers in order to kick-start electric car adoption worldwide?Renewable Energy Focuslooks at some of the projects currently underway, but in this two-part series also stresses what changes need to happen first.

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5 comments; last comment on 09/24/2015
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Car Tech that Combats Drunk Driving

Posted August 14, 2015 5:00 AM by cheme_wordsmithy

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drunk driving was involved in 31% of all fatal car crashes in 2013. Roughly 10,000 die each year in drunken-driving related accidents. Despite all the statistics, warnings, and harsh punishments for driving while impaired (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI), every day people still make the choice to drive after drinking too much, and put themselves and others in danger. As with other safety concerns, researchers are always looking for technology's help to minimize the risk of DWIs and DUIs.

One form of technology in use today is the ignition interlock. Ignition interlocks are sometimes mandated for past DUI offenders and on rare occasions have been used voluntarily by concerned parents or others seeking driver accountability. The devices basically utilize a breathalyzer that integrates with the car's ignition. The driver must blow into the breathalyzer in order to start the car; if his blood alcohol content (BAC) is above a pre-determined level, the car will not start. The device will also request additional breaths at random times while driving to prevent the driver from deciding to drink after starting the car (if the driver is caught, the vehicle gives a warning and time to pull over before the car shuts off). BAC and operating information is monitored and can be reviewed by the judge, parent, etc. For DWIers or unruly teenagers, this device can be a good accountability tool, and in many U.S. states it is a requirement for first-time DUI offenders

While effective, ignition interlocks would not work well for the everyday driver. If you think about it, who really wants to have to blow into a tube in order to start their car? If we could remove the intrusiveness of the technology, the benefits would be worth considering. That's what the NHTSA and Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) have been working on since 2008, and it's called the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS). [Yes, this industry loves their acronyms... bear with me].

Like an ignition interlock, the DADSS uses sensors (in this case both breath and touch) to determine the user's BAC and regulate ignition accordingly. The difference is that DADSS does the work passively: sensors on the ignition switch would screen for alcohol on the skin's surface using infrared light, and sensors in front of the driver would measure BAC from his/her breath. These sensors are able to read and trip very quickly, so it does not inconvenience the driver in any way. And the price for the modification to new cars would be $150 to $200 currently, which is not a bad price, all things considered. On these items alone, it seems like an easy win for safety.

Unfortunately, there are many other factors that need to be considered. For instance, can we be sure the technology is reliable enough not to fail during the life of the car, or will it add to the list of possible points of failure in the vehicle? What about emergencies (confrontations, medical issues, and the like) where someone had a couple drinks beforehand but needed their car to start fast -- can we excuse those instances in the name of safety? What about the slippery slope of privacy, assuming the data can (and if it can it will) be recorded -- would we be OK if it became linked to our insurance rates, driving history, or vehicle inspections?

This is an engineering forum, and I write this post because I am intrigued by the technology that we have available today, particularly the computing power in our vehicles and the ways that capability is opening doors (albeit closing others for the traditional car enthusiasts). The DADSS is one of those doors. But as with all new tech, we must look at not just the "Can we?" but the "Should we?" and the "How?". These are the questions worth asking, ones I hope the community asks as this effort develops.


22 comments; last comment on 08/19/2015
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Trend Analysis Yields Design Payoffs

Posted August 13, 2015 12:00 AM by IHS Engineering360 eNewsletter

With Chorus 2015, engineers can take data from thousands of simulations to determine trends within their design space (see video). The latest release provides color filtration in the 2D scatter plots that represent the product's design space. Result: enhanced visualization and better understanding of the effects of constraints within the 2D scatter plots, which can lead to lighter, stronger, and more efficient designs. For more on Chorus, see this automotive case study.

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Green Proposal for Automotive Manufacturing

Posted July 31, 2015 12:00 AM by IHS Engineering360 eNewsletter

While electric or hybrid propulsion reduces a vehicle's carbon footprint, vehicle and fuel manufacturing processes must also be addressed to build a better environment. One company suggests a two-step approach to greening the automotive industry. First, "dematerialize" the vehicle by reducing the amount of material needed. Second, "democratize" the manufacturing process by replacing large, centralized automobile plants with local "microfactories." Learn how 3D printing could play a role in both steps.

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2 comments; last comment on 08/03/2015
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