Friday, June 29, 2012

Ford pushes for Traffic Jam Assist

Traffic Jam Assist is an intelligent driving technology that Ford is developing potentially for the mid-term (2017 to 2025). It uses radar and camera technology to keep pace with other vehicles and provide automated steering control to stay in the current lane, reducing driver stress and potentially improving vehicle flow.
Individual simulation studies have found that where 25 percent of vehicles on a stretch of road are equipped to automatically follow the traffic ahead, journey times can be reduced by 37.5 percent and delays reduced by 20 percent.
Traffic Jam Assist has the potential to follow the traffic ahead while maintaining lane position in environments where there are no pedestrians, cyclists or animals, and where lanes are clearly marked.
Many of the sensing technologies required to deliver Traffic Jam Assist are already available on current Ford models including Focus, C-MAX and Grand C-MAX. Independent steering already features on Lane Keeping Aid, which provides steering input to assist the driver to steer the vehicle back into lane if an unintentional drift is detected. Lane Keeping Aid also provides the camera technology required to monitor its lane position. Traffic Jam Assist’s automatic speed regulation requirement is supported by Ford Powershift transmission as well as Adaptive Cruise Control, a radar-based system which helps to maintain a set distance to other vehicles.
Traffic Jam Assist would be able to respond to changing traffic situations ahead and communicate any developments to the driver. Traffic Jam Assist would also incorporate features to help ensure the driver remains alert and in contact with the vehicle controls, even when the system was active. It could also be overridden at any time.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Driver Assistance: Cutting edge technology fort the mass market

CESA Paper Abstract

Driver Assistance Systems have evolved dramatically during the last decade. In the early stage their use was limited due to high cost und technological restrictions in the premium segment. Today we witness a massive rollout phase into every car segment.
On the one hand this leads to higher volume on the other hand the accepted price from the customer is much lower than before without accepting too much compromises in functionality. This describes the challenge for OEMs as well as suppliers.
One approach of Volkswagen is to constantly question today’s hardware concepts concerning sensors and electronic control units (ECUs) for driver assistance systems. E.g. high cost radar sensors dominate the market for adaptive cruise control and side assistance systems. Focusing on the demand of the customers in the volume market leads to a dedicated design which is more cost effective and allows reaching low end platforms. The goal here is not to switch sensor technology completely but to find the important “minor” improvements.
Another motivation for such solutions are the new EU NCAP aims in the following years. The discussed regulations concerning pedestrian detection and active safety require very cost effective systems with the potential of added functionality. Without changing sensors and systems a functional update must enable extra benefits for the driver.
The paper will address these topics with examples from Volkswagen.

By Dr. Alexander Kirchner, DAS System Development, Volkswagen AG

Sunday, June 24, 2012

eCall to become mandatory in all vehicles in 2015 in Europe

The Transport Committee in the European Parliament supported the introduction of a mandatory electronic system of emergency - the famous eCall - in all new car models as from 2015. "ECall could save lives with relatively little effort", said Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, from Germany, Vice-Chairman of the Transport Committee in the European Parliament.

Even if no passenger is able to speak, e.g. due to injuries, a "Minimum Set of Data" is sent, which includes the exact location of the crash site. Shortly after the accident, emergency services therefore know that there has been an accident, and where exactly.
eCall cuts emergency services response time. It goes down to 50% in the countryside and 60% in built-up areas. The quicker response will save hundreds of lives in the EU every year. The severity of injuries will be considerably reduced in tens of thousands of cases. You can also make an eCall by pushing a button inside the car. Witnessing an accident, you can thus report it and automatically give the precise location. As eCall normally 'sleeps', it does not allow vehicle tracking outside emergencies.

"ECall should be activated via the existing pan-European emergency number 112. This has two advantages: first, in the case of accidents, the severely injured would be given priority, and second, abuse can be prevented by the automatic recall of the rescue coordination centre", said Mr Koch. ECall can also co-exist with private emergency providers.

14th Annual All Ford Powered Car Show

On June 10th, the Greater Pittsburgh Mustang Club held their 14th Annual All Ford Powered Car Show at Shults Ford/Lincoln in Harmarville, PA. It was a beautiful day for a car show with hardly a cloud in the sky and the blue oval well represented across the board. The show has been renamed the Tom Cavataio Memorial Show in honor of GPMC longtime member Tom Cavataio who passed away in late 2011. Tom's beautiful Grabber Blue 1970 Mach 1 was prominently displayed by his family. And anyone who knew Tom, knew he shared a great passion for anything blue oval. I entered my 2009 Mustang Bullitt for the 3rd year and brought home 2nd place for 2005-current Mustangs. Here's some pictures from the event as well as a full album of pictures taken throughout the day.

Butler Cruise-A-Palooza 2012

We've been busy the past few weeks, taking in lots of car shows and other events. So sorry for our lack of postings here. Today I ventured North to Butler Pennsylvania, birthplace of the Jeep and home to American Bantam for the 18th Annual Cruise-A-Palooza put on by The Rodfathers Car Club. These are just a few of the pictures of some of the awesome customs, classics, and everything in between that was on display. A rough guess would be easily over 1000 cars in attendance. Here's a link to the full collection of pictures I took.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Automated braking systems in EuroNCAP ratings as from 2014

Euro NCAP is calling for car makers to do more to help reduce Europe's road deaths by fitting AEB (autonomous emergency braking) technology as standard to new cars. The independent safety organisation says that the industry should do more to promote the technology, which can save thousands of lives each year.
AEB systems will be included in the Euro NCAP star rating as from 2014.
Research suggests that Autonomous Emergency Braking systems can reduce accidents by up to 27%, saving around 8,000 lives and preventing many more serious injuries and whiplash claims each year. Despite this, the technology has only been made available on around 20% of new cars and many manufacturers do not offer the technology at all.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Cars 21 reports a vision for 2020

As part of the Commission's modern industrial policy, the CARS 21 (Competitive Automotive Regulatory System for the 21st century) made recommendations for 2020 to reach new heights.
It's a call for rapid progress on important subjects such as electro-mobility, road safety, market access strategy and a review of the CO2 emissions from cars and vans.
Cars 21 claims the roll out of alternative infrastructure to support new energies, standardisation issues for the breakthrough of electrical cars, the EIB financing for research, a new driving test-cycle and test procedure in order to reduce CO2 emissions, as well as ICT technologies supporting driver behaviour and road safety.
The car of 2020 should be clean, fuel-efficient, quiet, safe and connected. 

Link :

Thursday, June 14, 2012

CESA 2012 interview : Rémi Bastien (Renault), third part

Rémi Bastien is Vice President for Research, Advanced Studies and Materials at Renault. For this third and last part of the interview, he discusses about CESA congress and the french know how.

"As a shareholder of SIA*, I was one of the promoters of the CESA congress. The first edition in 2010 was rather successful and we have decided to continue.
A scientific congress is much more a tradition in Germany, where engineers like to share information, than in France. However, we have good scientists too and it's an opportunity to present research labs, universities and to put the emphasis on french know how in the whole automotive industry.
We have for example the VeDeCom institute, housed by the Mov'eo cluster and which is very unique in Europe. It's the only place you can find OEMS, suppliers, labs, famous research firms (CEA, IFP, IFSTTAR), and outside automotive companies such as Veolia or EDF, working all together on carbon free vehicles and new mobiliy trends.
CESA is an international congress. We aim to become a major event in Europe, in the field of electronics, hybrid and electric vehicles and of communication dedicated to mobility. Organised every two years, on even years, our congress is in alternance with Baden Baden".

*French Society of Automotive Engineers

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

CESA 2012 interview : Rémi Bastien (Renault), second part

This is the second part of the interview of Rémi Bastien, Vice President for Research, Advanced Studies and Materials at Renault. The internal code name for this organisation is DREAM. So, let's dream of the future with our top expert.

"With this research organisation, we try to make our managers dream, and then our customers. More seriously, we drive half of the innovation at Renault. We are working on early stage on breakthrough innovations, whether it's on powertrain, or for the connected car.
To give an example, we have created the embedded charger on Zoe EV car, wich is called Cameleon and allows to charge more quickly. This device is compliant with power from 22 to 43 kW.
One of our challenges at the moment is to develop more affordable batteries, always for EVs. We expect to be ready in 2017, with next generation batteries which would allow the same range, from 150 to 200 km, but with a much lower price.
Another interesting topic is the driving assistance. Today, a car can park by itself. At low speed, the driver could handover to the car and let it manage acceleration, braking and changing lanes. All the components are ready and we have in France a remarkable  facility with VeDeCom Institute near Paris for further testings and developments. I think it should come earlier than people usually expect.
When innovation is mature enough, it's then transferred to production plans".

To be continued with statements on CESA congress.

Ford to the Rescue!!!

Ford dropped some huge news yesterday, announcing a new Special Service Vehicle Package for the F-150. This means in the near future when you are pulled over for speeeding or cited by the fire marshall for having too many people in your restaurant, an uber-cool F-150 might be part of the process.

According to Ford, the SSV package will be available in a variety of cab configurations, and with a variety of engines--including the highly popular EcoBoost powertrain. Making the deal even sweeter, the package comes at no additional cost. The marketing boost from having its trucks constantly in front of the public, just like the old Crown Vics, will undoubtedly more than make up for it. Besides, Ford is the only one out of the big three automakers that didn't get a huge government bailout and it is flush with cash.

It's a good time to be Ford, for sure.

EV Smart Fortwos Start Rolling!

Daimler's smallest production car--the smart fortwo--is now rolling out of the factory with a brand spanking new electric power train. As if the combustion versions of the fortwo are not fuel efficient enough, the new EV models promise even less environmental impact and greater fuel efficiency.

Perhaps most intriguing is that unlike some EVs, the electric fortwo promises a drive quality similar to combustion models. Daimler outfitted them with an electric motor that puts out 55 kilowatts and propels the car forward from 0 to 100 km/h at a respectable 4.8 seconds. While I doubt anyone is going to start racing fortwos of any kind (except for tuners--they modify Nissan Jukes for cryin' out loud) such performance should help drivers merge into urban traffic easily. The car also promises a range of 145 kilometers (that's 90 miles for those afraid of the metric system) in stop-and-go city traffic. Because of its small size, I think Daimler didn't count on anyone road-tripping in the fortwo.

Gone are the days that people viewed electric cars as only quirky and slow. The new crop of electrics are promising a more practical way to drive, all with no tailpipe emissions (the car doesn't even have a tailpipe).

How much will a new electric smart fortwo set you back? US pricing has not been announced yet, but in Europe a coupe model with a rental battery will cost 18,910 Euros, while owning the battery increases the price to 23,680 Euros.

Source: Daimler Corporation

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ford Becoming More Advanced with Turbos

Have you ever owned a turbocharged vehicle? I have owned three, and have drive a lot more. Turbocharged cars are funny things, as they are really not all good or all bad. In fact, having owned three different turbo cars, I can tell you that not all turbocharger setups are created equal. The bad of turbos is that they might have major turbo lag, leaving you waiting for your car to get up and go at stop lights. They also can burn through coolant and oil like nobody's business, leading to overheating, and they love to blow gaskets. The good in turbos includes that they are light on the gasoline, which can translate into a lower cost of operation. Turbos also make cool noises (especially if they have a blow-off valve) and they can turn a so-so engine into a monster (or a monster engine into a rocket).

Some higher-end turbocharged vehicles employ tricks such as twin turbo systems, which help eliminate turbo lag and increase/extend the torque curve for better performance. Unfortunately, having two turbos costs more, so on less-expensive turbo vehicles a single setup is the only option.

Well, in steps Ford, the American automaker who is innovating and shaking like crazy lately, with a new turbo technology for the 2013 Focus ST. The Blue Oval calls the new technology "overboost" turbocharging. You can read all about the technicalities (at least some of them--sorry any engineers out there) on Ford's website. To boil it down to the basics: the overboost technology greatly reduces turbo lag even though the Focus ST comes with a single turbo. Ford's technology also extends the Focus ST's peak torque output from 3,000 RPM to 4,500 RPM for up to 15 seconds at a whack. This increased torque band essentially works like a fighter jet's afterburners, giving the car a needed boost on occasion.

This technology actually isn't new, but the 2013 Focus ST will be the first vehicle sold in North America with the overboost turbo technology. Ford has been doing an excellent job selling Americans on turbocharged engines, with the EcoBoost trim levels going for a premium.

What about the drawbacks of turbocharged vehicles? The 2013 Ford Focus ST's engine is supposed to be tuned to virtually eliminate turbo lag. I have drive some vehicles with single turbos where this is the case, and driving them is a blast. As far as the overheating issue, Ford engineers claim they have outfitted the Focus ST with a very robust cooling system.

Also offered on the 2013 Ford Focus ST are Recaro racing-inspired front seats, as well as an exclusive color called Tangerine Scream. Obviously the American automaker is gearing the Focus ST to portray a thrilling driving experience, and I am hoping they actually deliver. With the new turbo technology, peak power output has been certified at 252 horsepower and 270 lb-ft torque, which sounds pretty thrilling to me.

CESA 2012 interview : Rémi Bastien (Renault), first part

Rémi Bastien is Vice President for Research, Advanced Studies and Materials at Renault. As the new chairman of EUCAR, the Brussels based organisation, he discusses first about research in Europe.

"EUCAR stands for European Council for Automotive R&D. With fourteen members, wich are automotive manufacturers from the ACEA*, the organisation identifies research priorities and interacts whith the European Commission, in order to improve the competitiveness of the industry.
Our key challenge at the moment is Horizon 2020, the Framework Programme for Research & Innovation. Our proposal is to triple the amount of fundings, with a 5 billion Euros budget for the next seven years to face the challenges. Research efforts have to be done on cars themselves, but also in the fields of energy and communication. This idea has been well received by the European Commission.
Europe has to move fast and to take decisions quickly. In other parts of the world, such as China or South Korea, it takes within 6 months to raise fundings and to issue a call for tenders. Europe timeline is rather 6 to 18 months.
We have to decide this year and to move forward then. If we are waiting too much, Europe may lose its technical advance, especially in the field of the connected car with car to car communications".

To be continued with a presentation of the DREAM (research organisation at Renault) and statements on CESA congress.

*European Automobile Manufacturers' Association

Friday, June 8, 2012

PSA leader of CO2 emissions in Europe

In the first-quarter 2012, the amount of CO2 emitted by PSA Peugeot Citroën vehicles declined by 2.1 grams compared with 2011, making the Group the leader in Europe with average CO2 emissions of 125.5 grams per kilometre.
This 2.1-gram reduction validates the Group's environmental strategy, which is based on three complementary pillars:
- Optimising petrol and diesel internal-combustion engines by deploying HDi engines equipped with particulate filters (5.7 million vehicles on the road by the end of April 2012) and developing a new 3-cylinder petrol engine that emits less than 100 grams per kilometre for the new Peugeot 208 in 2012.
- Deploying hybrid technologies: by standardizing Stop&Start technology across the Peugeot and Citroën line-ups (380 000 vehicles equipped at the end of April 2012) and by launching new diesel hybrid models – the Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 and 508 RXH and the Citroën DS5 HYbrid4 – with carbon emissions of 95 to 107 grams per kilometre.
- Marketing electric vehicles (the Peugeot i0n and the Citroën C-Zero were launched in December 2010). The technological advances made by the Group enabled it to maintain its environmental leadership.

In 2011, PSA Peugeot Citroën was top ranked in Europe in the segment of vehicles emitting less than 111 grams of CO2 per kilometre with a market share of 21.1%. The decline in emissions continued in first-quarter 2012, when the Group's market share in the segment stood at 20.9%.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

ID4Car and 4G connectivity

On june 26th, in Brittany*, ID4 Car cluster and other partners (ITS Brittany, Orange...) are organising a showcase around 4 G connectivity dedicated to transports. The aim is to prepare the arrival of this new standard in cars. Experts will present 4 G LTE potential and will discuss about connected services. Thanks to a greater bandwith, 4 G is ten times faster and allows new applications in the vehicle.

*In Ploufragan, near Saint-Brieuc