The car industry megatrends of digitalization, electrification and automa-tion are also shaping the development of trucks and buses. Continental’s innovations are constantly raising the bar for safety and connectivity.
The CEOs of the major automakers like to talk about “reinventing the automobile” when referring to the rapid pace of technological progress in the car industry. But things are no different in the commercial vehic-les sector, where the “reinvention of the truck” has been in full swing for some time now. This trend has been further accelerated by the recent adoption of new EU regulations for reducing CO2 emissions. Trucks will be required to cut their CO2 emissions by 15 percent from 2025 and 30 percent from 2030, compared to the average level for 2019. To help truck manufacturers meet these challenging targets, Continental has developed numerous innovations that will make tomorrow’s commer-cial vehicles more efficient, smarter, safer and eco-friendlier.
The environment model currently being developed by Continental is one example. The system models the vehicle’s environment by com-bining route data with data from sensors such as cameras, radar and lidar. The acquired data is analyzed and interpreted more than fifty times a second by a powerful computer known as the Assisted and Automated Driving Control Unit (ADCU). This means that the vehicle’s electronic systems can “see” things like a vehicle approaching on the other side of the road, another vehicle 200 meters up ahead in the same lane, or a car pulling out to overtake.
The safety benefits are enormous – the fact that the vehicle has a clear picture of the environment it is driving through ensures optimal operation of its assistance systems. The environment model is also key to enabling different automated driving functions such as platooning, where multiple digitally coupled trucks drive in convoy. This technology makes life easier for the drivers of the trucks following the convoy’s lead vehicle and cuts emissions by reducing fuel consumption.
“The environment model rounds off Continental’s portfolio of com-ponents and subsystems for vehicle environment detection. With our sensors, our applications for vehicle connectivity and our intelligent control units for automated driving, Continental will in future be in a position to offer its customers everything they need for the reliable detection of the vehicle environment – from a single source,” said Jörg Lützner, Head Commercial Vehicles, Division Interior, Systems and Technology at Continental.
The right turn assistant (in left-hand drive vehicles) is another of the environment model’s concrete uses. Continental will be augmenting future versions of this radar-based system with camera technology. The right turn assistant aims to prevent collisions between buses or trucks making a right turn and pedestrians or cyclists in the blind spot on the right-hand side of the vehicle. In the past, this maneuver has resulted in multiple fatal accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists. The right turn assistant detects hazardous situations and instantly ac-tivates emergency braking to prevent a collision. The EU is currently discussing the mandatory installation of these systems. The enhanced right turn assistant could represent an important step towards the
Other Continental innovations are also geared toward achieving this goal. One example is the modular digital bus cockpit, designed to pro-vide bus drivers with improved ergonomics, comfort and thus safety in their daily work. The drivers of these large vehicles are constantly being bombarded with information. The modular cockpit enables this infor-mation to be communicated clearly and without distracting the driver. Be it the speed of the vehicle, the battery status or the satnav, images from the door cameras at stops or 360-degree vision when reversing, the drivers are supplied with all the relevant information on three displays. Pop-up messages can be flashed onto the displays to warn the driver of hazards or emergencies. This solution can be installed on almost any city bus and has already won the iF Product Design Award and the German Design Award. According to Michael Glunk, Program Manager for the modular driver’s workplace at Continental, “With our new concept, we are opening a new chapter in the history of the driver’s workplace, putting people at the heart of everything we do.”
Tires will of course also play a key role in helping to deliver the EU emissions targets. The IAA Commercial Vehicles show held in Hano-ver in the fall of last year saw the global premiere of both the MAN CitE electric truck and the striking Continental concept tires that it was fitted with. The four Conti e.MotionPro design tires are a prototype for the development of tires designed specifically for electric commercial vehicles. As Klaus Kreipe, Head of Original Equipment Truck Tires at Continental, explains, “The new powertrains and the new vehicle concepts that are sometimes associated with them will change the requirements for commercial vehicle tires. We are cur-rently engaging in partnerships to gain valuable experience for the development of tires for electric trucks and buses.”
With these innovative systems, Continental is playing a decisive part in shaping a future with lower emissions. One system that can already ‘see’ into that future is dynamic eHorizon for commercial vehicles. Ba-sed on ultra-precise topographical route data and GPS signals, the sys-tem supplies all kinds of information about the road ahead, enabling the control units in the vehicle to automatically adapt the speed and style of driving. In the near future, vehicles equipped with dynamic eHorizon will be able to ‘see’ for kilometers ahead. This will not only save fuel but also prevent accidents, for instance by warning of a tailback hidden around a bend. The predecessor system, static eHorizon, has already been able to save some 1 billion liters of diesel fuel since 2012, which equates to savings of the order of €1 billion. And simulations indicate that the dynamic version has the potential to increase fuel savings by as much as two percent.