tain’s voice intones followed by a brisk jingle. “Ya, sure,” says Robert. “Anyway, this new system can recognize more than 100,000 words. And even if you’re listening to loud music, it will still understand you, because it can read your lips thanks to a mini camera in- stalled in the rearview display.” Robert uses voice commands to set the destination and customize their route. That’s because he wants to avoid the way through town, even though the toll is cheaper at this time of night. Robert wants to take the highway. “Where are the side mirrors?” asks grandma. “It doesn’t have any. There are cameras in- stead. They show you what’s going on be- hind the car and at the sides — look, here, on the dashboard display. And there aren’t any blind spots, either.” By now, they have left the residential area and are heading for the highway.
“This is about the most high-tech thing on four wheels you can imagine. And the best thing of all is that it’s practically impossible to crash it!” “Now, steady. You just be careful,” grandma replies. “No, really! Look, it’s got all these cameras as well as radar, laser and in- frared sensors, which permanently monitor whatever’s happening around the car. And the software’s so cool that it can tell when something’s not right. If I turn the wheel to change lanes and there’s a car right behind me that I haven’t seen, then the steering col- umn vibrates. Or say I happen to overlook a stoplight, the system will warn me and even apply the brakes if I don’t react. And if worse comes to worst and a tree comes down right in front of us, air bags inflate like....” “When I was your age,” interrupts grandma, “we didn’t even have seat belts.”
There’s a lot of traffic on the road. Robert asks for information from the local traffic management service. Although they’re rec- ommending a speed of 55 miles per hour, the traffic keeps bunching and grinding to a halt. After a while, he activates the ACC sys- tem, which automatically maintains a con- stant distance from the vehicle in front — even when going around curves — and auto- matically takes control of the accelerator and brakes. “That’s better,” he says with a sigh. By now, Grandma is getting acquainted with the OLED touchscreen. “Where do I get Fox News?” she say. “I want to know what the weather situation will be like tomorrow.” “Easy,” says Robert. “Just say it, and you’ll get it!” Her voice is new to the system but gets a
quick response “Weather Web activated!” pro- claims the captain’s voice as a crisp image ap- pears on the display. “Storms in the west. And now for your three-day local...” A graphic shows predicted weather conditions within a 200 mile radius of the car’s position. Grandma nods knowingly and calls her home automation platform to ensure that it is syn- chronized with local weather conditions.
The traffic thins as Robert leaves the high- way. Now’s his big chance to put the engine to the test, and he presses down heavily on the gas pedal. “Not bad,” he whistles, as the booster from the electric motor kicks in on top of the diesel engine. The road enters a patch of woodland. “Aren’t you driving a little fast, dear?” asks Grandma and points at the windshield. A flashing red “55 miles per hour” shows the current speed limit, con- trasting it with the vehicle’s actual speed: 65 miles per hour. “It’s a shame there isn’t an electronic system to slow kids down!” says Grandma pointedly. “Okay,” says Robert and eases off the gas. “It’s still the driver who’s re- sponsible. That way, no one can claim that some electronic system caused an accident. But driving’s no fun if you can’t put your foot to the floor once in a while!”
He suddenly taps the brakes. “What now?” asks Grandma. “There’s a deer on the road- side up ahead.” “A deer! I can’t see a thing,” she replies. “That’s because it’s too far away. Look, the night-sight system tells me where it is, but that’s still a good 150 meters away.” As the car approaches, Robert and grandma can see the deer turn and trot off into the woods. Robert accelerates again. “Shame there’s no fog,” he says. “That would give me a chance to try out the night vision system.”
All of a sudden there’s a loud bumping noise, and a warning light flashes. Robert pulls to a halt and gets out. “Oh, no!” he says. A piece of metal is stuck into a very flat tire. “Why on earth didn’t dad get the nanofoam tires? They’d have handled that, no problem. By this time, Grandma has come to take a look herself. “What seems to be the problem, young man?” she asks. Robert looks down at the tire. “We’re stuck. Since it’s not a software problem, our remote service contract won’t help. We’ll just have to flag someone down...” Grandma goes to the trunk. “Isn’t there a spare?” she asks. “Sure. But...” Robert trails off. “I think I can manage this,” says G r a n d m a w i t h a g r i n . “ J u s t h a n d m e t h a t ■ N o r b e r t A s c h e n b r e n n e r jack…”
The European Union is work- ing to reduce traffic fatalities by half in coming years, while strict emissions limits in the U.S. will require new solutions. It all adds up to tremendous challenges for the automotive industry. Siemens VDO is responding with innovative technologies, including sensor-supported driver assistance systems and environmentally friendly engine controls.
W atch out for cars!” Kids hear this warn- ing all the time when they go out to play. But in 15 years, parents may be less wor- ried than they are today. That’s because the likelihood of being hit by a car is steadily de- creasing. “Thanks to sophisticated sensors, the cars of the future will monitor traffic and warn drivers of dangers in advance. In emer- gency situations, systems could even inter- vene autonomously,” says Dr. Jochen Kölzer, who is responsible for transportation issues at Siemens Corporate Technology’s (CT) Strategic Marketing department.
But that’s still a long way off. Today, the automotive industry is facing tremendous challenges. On the one hand, politicians are demanding further reductions in the number of traffic accidents, as well as lower emis- sions. On the other hand, consumers want personalized, technologically sophisticated
Improved night vision: Despite oncom- ing headlights, pedestrians are clearly visible on the center console display. An infrared sensor detects them, and a warning appears on the head-up display in the driver’s field of vision.
vehicles that perform well yet consume less fuel. “For automakers, however, if they hope to survive amid increasingly fierce competi- tion, the top priority is to be able to manage the cost of developing and making their prod- ucts,” adds Dr. Thomas Schlick, Managing Di- rector for Technology at the German Associa- tion of the Automotive Industry (VDA). “And that’s also one of the biggest challenges fac- ing suppliers,” says Roger Deckers, Director of the Technology Board at Siemens VDO Auto- motive.
Together with Kölzer, Deckers heads a project called “The Future of Automotive 2020,” which presents trends in the automo- tive sector and is designed to serve as a source for business strategies (see box p. 44). Product development is also oriented to the results of trend research. Siemens VDO, for example, is working on driver assistance sys-
tems, customized navigation and infotain- ment systems (see p. 56), a modular expan- sion of vehicle software and electronics (see p. 59) and revolutionary brake system con- cepts (see p. 52).
Active Safety. Safety is still the leading pri- ority. In 2001, the European Union an- nounced the goal of reducing by half the ap- proximately 40,000 annual traffic fatalities in its member nations (15 countries at the time) by 2010. In 1970, nearly 78,000 people died in traffic accidents in the EEC (the EU’s fore- runner). This decline in fatalities is explained in part by the introduction of restraint sys- tems, air bags and antilock brake systems. Such passive systems still have potential, but additional measures are needed to meet the EU’s ambitious goals. “To achieve those goals, we’ll need to move from passive to active
safety,” says Kölzer. That transition is already in full swing. Automakers and suppliers are working on a broad front to develop systems that prevent accidents from happening in the first place. Furthermore, their results are in production. The Citroën C5, for example, has a warning system that causes the seat to vibrate if a driver tries to change lanes without using the turn signal. A similar sys- tem from Siemens VDO uses a vibrating steer- ing wheel as a warning. In September 2005 at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frank- furt, Germany, the company introduced its vision of “cars that can see.” Six different sensors work in concert to scan and evaluate the car’s surroundings and assist the driver (see p.46).
Siemens also took part in the INVENT ini- tiative funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research. INVENT called for
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2005