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Scalable safety technologies provide improved road safety for every vehicle category and all markets

Apr 21, 2009

Scalable safety technologies provide improved road safety for every vehicle category and all markets

Safety for everyone: Continental's components and systems can be installed in the widest variety of size and price categories. The integration within ContiGuard® will produce further performance and price benefits in the coming years

Frankfurt am Main, Germany, April 21, 2009. Continental, the international automotive supplier, aims to contribute to further reductions in the number of accidents and the injuries they cause by introducing scalable safety technologies and by interlinking safety relevant components and functions. Safety for everyone: Components and systems can be installed in the widest variety of size and price Under the slogan "Safety for everyone", the Continental Automotive Group's Chassis & Safety Division is concentrating on offering safety technologies not just to satisfy the requirements of various customers and markets but to allow these technologies to be installed in all vehicle categories. "In view of these globally available technologies, safety is a non-negotiable topic. We are making the price of safety technologies attractive and, as a result, see them being increasingly installed in all vehicle categories and markets. Safety systems are no longer for privileged premium models", stressed Dr. Ralf Cramer, President of the Chassis & Safety Division, at a press conference in Frankfurt.

"So we think that today is just the right time to press on with marketing safety systems such as the city version of Emergency Brake Assist for installation in smaller model series. We need to put more effort into telling consumers about the benefits of driver assistance systems. Whether it's Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection or Emergency Brake Assist, it's ultimately always a matter of protecting lives".

Scalable and inexpensive: driving safely even in an economic crisis

It is an undisputed fact that driver assistance systems offer great safety potential and can save lives; however, they can also reduce repair costs. "Safety is non-negotiable", said Ralf Cramer. It is precisely now, when economies are under great strain, that small and compact vehicles are increasingly in demand both in Europe and in the USA. At the same time, the price-sensitive markets in eastern Europe and Asia will see the highest growth rates in the next few years. "It is here that the focus will be squarely on the consumer as these safety technologies are rolled out. We do not intend to concentrate solely on the premium segment, but are deeply committed to making safety technologies affordable and to flagging up their benefits" stressed Cramer.

Flexible technologies for different safety requirements

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) can be used as the basis for many control functions related to vehicle dynamics, thus making vehicles safer. The basic function of ESC is to prevent the vehicle skidding, when carrying out an avoidance maneuver for example, and its installation will be mandatory in Europe for all new vehicle models from November 2011. That will result in more "Safety for everyone"; but it also extends the options for integrating with other systems. ESC will become a chassis computer, because it can, for example, intervene directly in the Electric Power Steering (EPS) system which is being installed with increasing frequency. This not only makes driving easier - parking assistance is an example - but it improves vehicle dynamics and offers additional safety functions, including rapid and precisely modulated countersteering in hazardous situations. Until now, EPS was, for technical reasons, only available for small vehicles. The scalable power pack which Continental has developed now makes it possible for this electric power steering aid to be installed in heavy sedans or SUVs as well.

A further step towards making the chassis electronics still more capable while simultaneously making cost savings is to integrate the vehicle dynamics sensors (the longitudinal acceleration and yaw-rate sensors) into the ESC or airbag control unit or into the Chassis and Safety Controller. This makes the system more compact and, above all, less expensive. Separate housings and cable and plug connections are no longer needed and consequently the reliability of the overall system is improved.

In 2011, Continental intends to market a new electronic brake system generation, the MK100, based on a modular product family. The MK100's range of functions can be scaled to suit whatever functionality and level of performance the vehicle manufacturer requires, from motorcycle ABS systems with or without an integral braking function to demanding high-end ESC designs and safety and assistance functions. Examples include Active Rollover Protection (ARP), Trailer Stability Assist (TSA), Hill Start Assist (HSA) and intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). This concept will produce added functional value even for price-driven, entry-level versions.

Short and long-range sensors: early hazard detection

Lasers, radar, video cameras - these are some of the wide range of sensors now available for monitoring a vehicle's immediate surroundings, many of them now in their third generation of development. They allow tailor-made solutions for all vehicle categories, for whatever purpose they are used, and are significantly cheaper than complete system packages. The example given by Ralf Cramer was the proximity sensor for the Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) city version, developed by Continental and installed in the Volvo XC60, which can prevent rear-end collisions in the speed range up to 30 km/h. Fitted level with the inside mirror in the area cleaned by the windshield wiper, this sensor uses laser beams to monitor a distance of up to about eight meters ahead of the vehicle. The sensor picks up vehicles which are stationary or traveling in the same direction. If the gap is less than the distance which must be regarded as critical at the current speed, the system causes the brakes to be applied automatically. The proximity sensors used are less expensive than the currently available radar sensors, which are designed to provide driver assistance in the whole speed range up to more than 200 km/h and must therefore be able to "see" for 200 meters. For lower speed ranges, for example for small vehicles or for trucks or vans, lower range requirements apply to most driver assistance systems. For these applications, so-called "mid-range" radar sensors are being developed, which provide an appropriate alternative at less cost.

This type of scalable modular system makes it possible to offer active safety systems at attractive prices for all vehicle categories.

Scalable airbag system for greater passive safety

A very high standard has now been achieved in the field of passive safety. In addition to the crash safety features incorporated into vehicle design, this achievement is mainly thanks to the high proportion of vehicles equipped with airbags. However, high-performance airbag systems also need to be available in cost-sensitive markets. Continental has been using SPEED (Safety Platform for Efficient & Economical Design) to develop a scalable cost-optimized airbag control unit in order to satisfy different customer and market requirements. All three design versions of the modular airbag control unit meet the highest safety standards and, because they are scalable, can be flexibly adapted to different vehicle manufacturer and market requirements.

Faster-acting airbag sensors such as the Crash Impact Sound Sensing technology developed by Continental allow additional time for taking action which can increase the chances of survival in serious crashes. The technology can detect both the accident and its severity from the characteristic structure-borne sound within the bodyshell caused by an impact and can distinguish even more quickly and more reliably between different crash situations. Consequently, even in the case of serious accidents, the decision to trigger ignition of the restraint systems can be taken more quickly, providing vehicle occupants with the maximum reliable protection while suffering the least physical stress. And one more plus point: the Crash Impact Sound Sensing technology can be integrated within the airbag control unit - a cost benefit together with significantly improved performance.

Continental's ContiGuard® safety concept - the new dimension to driving safety

ContiGuard® integrates active and passive safety systems, making them more comprehensively effective through the coordinated interaction of environmental sensors. Together, the three function clusters - driver assistance systems, global chassis control and integrated occupant protection - provide the best possible protection in all driving and traffic situations. "We can integrate safety components, making them even more effective", says Dr. Peter Rieth, Senior Vice President, Systems & Technology in the Chassis & Safety Division. This modular, scalable approach adopted by ContiGuard®, depending on the relevant vehicle category and customer requirement, makes safety available worldwide. ContiGuard® is, consequently, an important element of the Chassis & Safety "Safety for everyone" approach.

The number of accident fatalities and serious injuries has halved since 1991

The volume of traffic on German roads has increased noticeably over the past 20 years. Active and passive safety systems in vehicles have, however, made a significant contribution to the fact that the number of traffic deaths since 1991, the first year following reunification, has more than halved, from 11,300 to 4,467. The number of serious injuries has also dropped from 131,093 to around 70,000, whereas the number of accidents involving personal injuries has only fallen by about 17 percent from 385,147 to 319,813. Therefore, the main objective for Continental's Chassis & Safety Division over the next few years will be to have more new, scalable integrated systems installed worldwide so as to actively prevent even more accidents and if this is not possible, to limit their consequences.


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Nicole Geissler

External Communications


Division Chassis & Safety

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60488 Frankfurt am Main

Tel.: +49 69 7603-8492

Fax: +49 69 7603-3945