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Safety Features in Automotive Industry

Essay by   •  January 8, 2011  •  Case Study  •  1,536 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,391 Views

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Night vision

Depending on the type of night vision system used, the technology can improve forward nighttime visibility by about 500 to 1,000 feet.

How it works: Infrared light projected from the car makes the road and roadside objects more visible when viewed on the in-car receptor. Images are projected onto the windshield at eye level.

Where to find it: GM introduced a night vision system on the Cadillac DeVille in 2000. Honda followed with a more sophisticated version on the 2004 Legend. Lexus added the system to its LX 470 SUV in 2004. It has been available on BMW and Mercedes-Benz flagship models since the end of 2005.

Obstacles: Maintenance can be an issue because sensor cameras are mounted on the car's exterior. Cost is a factor for manufacturers, as is space. The technology is expensive. Implementation likely will be restricted to high-end vehicles until at least 2010.

Primary suppliers: Autoliv Inc., Delphi Corp., Hella KGaA Hueck & Co., Lear Corp., Raytheon, L-3 Communications, Robert Bosch GmbH, Siemens VDO and Valeo SA.

LED headlamps

Light-emitting diodes are long-lasting, energy-saving light sources. They already are used for taillamps and interiors.

How it works: A light-emitting diode is a semiconductor diode that emits light in the form of electroluminescence. Besides being more reliable than incandescent lamps, LEDs can be installed in much thinner housings. Another big advantage is that LED light has almost the same properties as daylight. This allows the human eye to easily recognize the road ahead in its natural color and discern contrasts.

Where to find it: The Audi R8 and some A4s have LEDs for daylight running lights. Audi also claims that the 2008 R8 will be the first vehicle in which all light functions of the headlamp use LED technology, including low beam, high beam, turn signal, daytime running lights and position light. Lexus claims that the LS 600h is equipped with the world's first application of low-beam LED headlight technology. Renault, VW and Mercedes are developing LED headlight technology.

Obstacles: LEDs operate best at a controlled optimum temperature, something hard to achieve in the average driving environment. High prices prevent mass-market adoption.

Primary suppliers: Automotive Lighting, Robert Bosch GmbH, CML Innovative Technologies, General Electric, Hella KGaA Hueck & Co., Koito Manufacturing, Magneti Marelli, Osram, Philips, Schefenacker International, Stanley Electric, Valeo SA, Visteon Corp.

Adaptive headlights

Adaptive, or active-cornering, headlights illuminate curves and provide better night vision. They can almost double the range of low beams compared with conventional lighting.

How it works: Current-generation systems control the headlamp swivel through a link to the steering wheel. New-generation systems use sensors to monitor steering angle, yaw rate and speed and swivel the lamps to automatically follow the curve. Future versions will adapt their light distribution to traffic, road and weather conditions. Hella, of Germany, is working on a system that uses global positioning satellite data.

Where to find it: The technology is widely available on luxury vehicles, including models from Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Range Rover and Toyota. It is expected to be available on 75 percent of Europe's luxury cars within five years.

Obstacles: As an option, adaptive lighting may not be an easy sell in the showroom because the technology can only be appreciated in night driving; most test drives take place during the day.

Primary suppliers: Automotive Lighting, Denso Corp., Hella KGaA Hueck & Co., Koito Manufacturing, Robert Bosch GmbH, Schefenacker International AG, Stanley Electric, Valeo SA, Visteon Corp. and ZKW.

Smart airbags

Smart airbags adjust the force of their deployment to match the severity of impact and the weight and position of the seat occupant.

How it works: Sensors assess a passenger's size, weight and seat position, and the vehicle's speed, before deploying the airbags with appropriate force. The bags deploy in two or three stages or not at all, depending on the situation. TRW Automotive's 2007 system uses a camera in the overhead console instead of sensors.

Where to find it: Users of smart airbag systems include General Motors, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus. Consulting firm Frost & Sullivan predicts that dual-stage bags will be in every luxury car by 2015.

Obstacles: Sensor technology is not foolproof. The need for advances in airbag technology also may be diminished by the spread of other safety systems, including computer-actuated brake assist and seat belt pretensioners.

Primary suppliers: Autoliv Inc., Key Safety Systems, Robert Bosch GmbH, Siemens VDO, TRW Automotive Inc. and Takata-Petri.

Blind spot warning

Alerts driver to vehicles in the blind spot when changing lanes on a multiple-lane highway. An aging population and increasing traffic density worldwide are expected to drive demand over the next 10

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