Optimizing vehicle fuel efficiency by providing the powertrain and driver with detailed digital previews of the road ahead is one of the potential benefits of eHorizon, a new software package being developed by Continental’s Multimedia business unit and discussed at Convergence 2008.
The eHorizon concept continuously transmits small data packets containing road terrain, environmental conditions, traffic congestion, route guidance, and other key information to the powertrain and vehicle subsystems (chassis control, for example) via the vehicle’s CAN bus.
An eHorizon control unit integrated in the vehicle precisely calculates vehicle position using GPS, wheel speed, and gyroscope data. The map data is then continuously transmitted in a standardized format to the various subsystem control devices through the CAN bus. The individual control units then recreate the virtual road image using a data-reconstructing program.
The system’s effective memory management ensures that the oldest data packet is always removed from the controller’s memory in favor of the most recent data packet. This also helps keep data transfer low and allows simple implementation of new functions.
With this digital-map preview, the engine and transmission control units, energy-storage systems (battery packs on hybrids, for example), and driver assistance systems can optimize their respective functions, explained Tarun Gupta, the Continental electrical engineer who is eHorizon’s portfolio manager for North America.
“Vehicle testing thus far is proprietary, but we are confident this system will provide not only reductions in fuel consumption but also potentially better traffic safety due to its ability to anticipate driving conditions,” Gupta said.
Among the vehicle-function areas given expanded “intelligence” by eHorizon are engine management; battery-energy management (as for hybrid vehicles); transmission control; “eco-cruise” control; curve assistance (for twisty-road driving); and chassis damping control.
The vehicle’s transmission gear-change strategy can be optimized. For example, an automatic transmission could recognize a gradient or curve ahead and delay a shift into a higher gear. Conversely, it could upshift into a more fuel-efficient ratio anticipating a long downhill ahead, Gupta noted.
For hybrids, eHorizon will enable certain functions to be switched on or off, depending on the road ahead. For driver assistance, eHorizon uses the ACC system combined with navigation.
The eHorizon can be integrated into the vehicle’s navigation system, or can comprise a separate control unit with its own simple human-machine interface, said Gupta.
The modular eHorizon concept was conceived by SiemensVDO’s automotive electronics unit acquired by Continental last year. The company sees opportunity for eHorizon in both the commercial and light-duty passenger vehicle segments. It is being configured as part of Continental’s Multi Media Platform (MMP) architecture.
Continental is offering OEMs a complete eHorizon development package allowing them to test new functions and shorten the time to production readiness.
Convergence marked the first North American appearance of eHorizon. It debuted at the 2008 IAA show in Hannover, Germany.