Today, a substantial amount of automotive innovation involves electronics. These innovations impact just about every aspect of today's driving experience.
Understanding every aspect of the vehicle and what consumers expect is knowledge suppliers can bring to the supply chain to work collaboratively in vehicle development. Through collaboration and electronic innovation, the driving experience can be enhanced impacting sight, sound and touch. These electronic innovations differentiate automaker brands.
A major contribution suppliers can bring to product development is an understanding of how the driver interacts with the vehicle. This understanding results in a human machine interface (HMI), which delivers a user-friendly technology, control location . The HMI results in improved styling, enhancing a display, delivering a product that keeps the driver's eyes on the road or a change in display placement to make it easier to see while operating the vehicle.
Globally people are spending more time in their automobiles. This increase resulted in electronics innovation that brought new technology to enhance the driving experience like entertainment systems.
Implementation of Bluetooth technology into products that allow portable personal devices to connect to the vehicle is no trivial task. As with most leading-edge technologies, discovery and learning is necessary to understand how the technology can operate seamlessly within the vehicle environment. Bluetooth technology operates in the 2.4 GHz frequency range, and given that other automotive electronic systems work at a variety of other frequencies, it is important to develop and deliver a system that works in the vehicle and with other systems like cellular phones and satellite radio. New technology such as Bluetooth is constantly changing to provide an array of features. Working with this technology requires suppliers to understand the consumer-focused technology and the vehicle systems. Knowledge of both systems allows the supplier community to work with an automaker and identify the functionality that is suitable for a vehicle environment, while differentiating the automaker products and meeting the needs of the consumer.
Electronic enhancements to the vehicle are growing rapidly and include new lighting systems to aide driver's visibility at night and in inclement weather. Advanced front lighting systems offer dynamic and static lighting systems. These lighting options increase lighting in the vehicle's path through electronic controls that integrate steering inputs with lighting systems. For example, adaptive front lighting systems (AFS) require absolute steering angle information and flexible software. Most vehicles use steering sensors. These relative sensors are used for vehicle dynamic control functions. From a vehicle electrical system perspective, the AFS feature has to be considered by the automaker before choosing a sensor for multiple functions. This consideration is necessary because dynamic systems retrieve steering wheel angle, yaw rate and other lighting relevant data to control beam direction and beam pattern.
Another factor in implementing AFS technology is software flexibility, which is paramount for allowing changes to the lamp motor control delivering lamp angular movement and speed of movement.
Electronic innovations also require an understanding of drivers and applying technology to help drivers be better drivers. Driver assistance technology includes driver information about vehicle functions and diagnostics. As electronics continue to advance, vehicle electronic architectures are improving; reducing the need for wiring harnesses and control boxes. It's easier to deliver plug-and-play options and capabilities to enhance the driving experience while providing increased reliability.
The future resides in architectures that reduce hardware and in the ability to design reusable software modules. Through international standardization consortiums such as Autosar, manufacturers and suppliers are working together defining standards for interchangeability and in vehicle feature distribution.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As director of electronics systems engineering for Visteon Corp., Martin Thoone manages electronics systems engineering worldwide. He also will serve as a liaison for European product development, as well as managing region-specific product development issues. Thoone holds various patents and technology awards, such as the 1999 SAE Delco Intelligent Transportation Systems award. He graduated from Eindhoven University of Technology in Electrical and Electronics Engineering in 1977.