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Continental's Chassis and Safety Controller increases vehicle architecture capability

Apr 20, 2009

Continental's Chassis and Safety Controller increases vehicle architecture capability

This second generation central control unit coordinates the smooth interaction of all chassis components and, by integrating the safety systems, it is inseparably associated with ContiGuard® and accident prevention.

Frankfurt am Main, Germany, April 21, 2009. Continental, the international automotive supplier, has developed a second generation of its central control unit, the Chassis and Safety Controller. This second generation includes triaxial inertial sensors and a microcontroller architecture with redundant core memory. Continental's Chassis and Safety Controller increases vehicle architecture capability The Chassis and Safety Controller uses high-speed data lines to access information from the various sensors and coordinates the interventions made by the individual chassis control systems. "With this second generation of our control unit, any corrective interventions, when carrying out an avoidance maneuver for example, are undertaken even more effectively and, above all, more safely and with better coordination" explained Dr. Peter Laier, Executive Vice President of the Chassis Components Business Unit of Continental's Chassis & Safety Division, at a press conference in Frankfurt. "The current vehicle architecture has clearly reached its limits. The Chassis and Safety Controller can relieve the pressure on the vehicle data architecture and can coordinate the safety technologies by bundling and analyzing all the data. And it can be easily adjusted to different model sizes and adapted to suit the manufacturer's requirements", stressed Peter Laier.

At the same time, it is a central feature of Continental's ContiGuard® safety concept, which integrates the active and passive safety systems, making them even more effective and comprehensive thanks to the coordinated interaction of its environmental sensors. By employing the Chassis and Safety Controller as part of ContiGuard®, accidents can be effectively avoided or their consequences and the risk of injury for all road users can be minimized while we continue along the road to Vision Zero. 

Gentle interventions enhance ride comfort and increase safety

The Chassis and Safety Controller has an obvious and compelling advantage in that systems which so far worked independently of each other are now linked together. "The capability of the network managed by the Controller is greater than the sum of its individual components", stressed Peter Laier. Data about the road ahead from the onboard cameras or from the navigation system can be used as an anticipatory measure to optimize chassis tuning or to activate rear axle steering and, by gently intervening in the engine management, to ensure that a tight bend does not become an accident risk. The coordinating role played by the Chassis and Safety Controller reinforces the effectiveness of the individual assistance and safety systems within ContiGuard® and ensures that they do not conflict with each other. Coordinated corrections carried out by the electric power steering (EPS) system, engine management interventions and the selective braking of individual wheels by ESC, are all felt by the driver as considerably more gentle interventions, resulting in significantly smoother driving overall.

An important task falls to the central vehicle status observer, which analyzes the extensive amount of data within the Controller. Because of the great density of information and data in the Chassis and Safety Controller, this "observer" software is able to calculate a significantly more precise vehicle status compared with the currently available systems. It is able to decide within fractions of a second whether a hazard warning is appropriate. Contradictory vehicle status details are immediately recognized, allowing correspondingly rapid interventions by the control systems to maintain safety at a high level. Ultimately, this observer will open the way to new functions, made possible solely due to comprehensive interlinking. One example of this is the side-slip angle control function.

Real time, highly-efficient data processing

"We are looking at an encouraging development. There are more and more active safety systems on the market. But the traditional architectures have hardly any more room for additional functions", said Peter Laier. Depending on their equipment fit, today's cars may have half a dozen or more separate assistance and comfort system control units installed, all of which need to be interlinked via the CAN bus. They control the ESC Electronic Stability Control and adjust the dampers and springs to the traffic situation or the road conditions. They regulate the electronic power steering or react to warning signals from radar or camera sensors when pulling out to overtake or if the vehicle inadvertently moves out of lane. Telematics data will also help to enhance road safety by transmitting warnings of hazardous situations such as the tail of a traffic jam once "Car-to-Car-Communication" is introduced. Analysis of navigation data, using digital road mapping provides information about dangerous stretches of road.

The Chassis and Safety Controller - a basic system is already installed in model series produced by a German premium vehicle manufacturer - reduces the complexity of the vehicle electronics and coordinates the interaction of all the systems connected up within the overall ContiGuard® framework with maximum efficiency. Integrated sensors in the Controller are used simultaneously by different control systems. The Controller also makes integration in the vehicle simpler because considerably fewer individual control units need to be installed in the optimum position. Using FlexRay® data bus connectors reduces the number of wiring harnesses and their means of fastening in the vehicle. This, too, increases the reliability of the overall system by minimizing possible sources of errors; the weight saved also produces fuel consumption improvements. According to Peter Laier: "Our approach to integration is characterized by narrow interfaces and this increases system safety. This network makes the overall system perform even more efficiently and securely compared with the co-existence approach of having individual interlinked systems, which would operate independently of each other." For reliable and rapid data processing, Continental is relying on Autosar standard-compliant software.

Great flexibility from system scalability

The critical market success factor with control units of this nature is adaptability. In its initial stage, the Chassis and Safety Controller is able to coordinate chassis control units such as ESC, EPS and continuous damper control (CDC) which are responsible for individual sub-functions, to integrate the necessary sensors and to act as a platform for OEM-specific software. It is, in addition, the ideal place for implementing the more complex functional elements which will need to be integrated, such as Global Chassis Control or integral safety technology like ContiGuard®. At a subsequent level of sophistication, it may conceivably replace individual control units, with their respective specific basic or sub-functions being assumed by so-called "smart actuators". The Chassis and Safety Controller is, consequently, scalable to virtually any degree; functions such as damper control or Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), and even technologies such as air suspension, night vision and camera systems or interlinking the vehicle with the outside world via GPS, WiFi or UMTS, currently only regarded as appropriate for the high-end of the market, could be managed by the Controller.

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Contact 

Nicole Geissler

External Communications

Continental

Division Chassis & Safety

Guerickestraße 7

60488 Frankfurt am Main

Tel.: +49 69 7603-8492

Fax: +49 69 7603-3945

nicole.geissler@continental-corporation.com