In-car networking (save FlexRay), smart image systems drive electronics development, expert says

October 18, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
At the VDI congress on automotive electronics in Baden-Baden (Germany), top engineers and strategists from the automotive value chain discussed current and future technology trends in this industry. Conference chairman Wolfgang Runge named the most essential trends currently driving the development of next-gen vehicles.

These essential trends are:

  • Networking: As such not a big surprise, but Runge named the winning and losing technologies: Ethernet will be the winner, FlexRay will lose out. "FleRray won't be able to assert itself. It will remain a niche technology", Runge said. Besides this technology issue, networking is no longer a feature for passenger cars and trucks only. Beyond these vehicle market segments, also agricultural machines, off-road vehicles and construction vehicles will increasingly employ in-car networks and electronic controls. As a matter of fact, in these market segments data networks are already state of the art, and GPS-controlled combines are no longer futuristic projects.
  • Driver Assistance Systems : According to the Runge, camera-based systems are enablers for next-generation systems. As an example, Daimler is currently working on a 6D vision system. Such systems can identify the motion vectors of objects around the vehicle and thus can generate a more differentiated, sophisticated environment image.
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  • Sensor vision : By means of synthetic, computer-generated images ("Bird's View") it is possible to create virtual protective shields around the car and detect dangerous situations earlier.
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  • Electric power steering (EPS) : "EPS is about to displace the conventional hydraulic power steering systems", Runge said. EPS gives car designers much more options for implementing intelligent safety functions. And: No car currently under design uses hydraulic power steering anymore.
  • Consumer electronics entering vehicles : This is not a design trend in the first place but more a problematic market trend. "We will increasingly see non-automotive components in the cars", Runge said. He pointed out that it is unclear how these components can be qualified for use in vehicles.