Electronics: Continental, IBM, Hitachi, TRW
Continental Adds To BFC Range
A year after introducing its Basic Function Controller (BFC), Continental AG (www.conti-online.com) is bracketing it with two other body control units. At the top end there’s the Advance Function Controller, a 32-bit processor that offers double the CAN and LIN buses as the mid-range model. Translation: it can control more safety and lighting features, such as anti-pinch electric window controls. At the lower end, there’s the Compact Function Controller, which comes with a smaller circuit board and housing, but costs 50% less than the BFC and accordingly moderates fundamental electrical system tasks, such as daytime running lights.motion in 3D. The rugged unit was created for high-speed impact and monitoring applications for rollovers as well as suspension, ride, and handling.
IBM Integrates for Software Integration
IBM (www.ibm.com/industries/automotive) doesn’t want to develop in-car software, but it does want to help OEMs and suppliers do it and manage it from concept to production. So it has bundled several of its development tools and packaged them in a new product life cycle and development platform, called “IBM Rational Team Webtop.”
The bundle includes: Rational Team Concert, IBM Rational Change, IBM Rational DOORS, IBM Rational Rhapsody and IBM Rational Synergy. As automotive software applications are concerned, the system addresses requirements, design, development and management across electrical and mechanical operations, or anything from powertrain hardware to infotainment units to vehicle-to-vehicle communi-cations to a range of telematics features. It also is said to manage testing and verification of the aforementioned. “This is the area where all the innovation will be in automotive,” says Hans Windpassinger, IBM Go-to-Market Manager Automotive Industry, Rational Software. “It all starts with requirements and product portfolio management. It will gather different requirements, help prioritize different requirements, and allow the collaboration between OEM and supplier.
Hitachi’s Big Battery
Hitachi Vehicle Energy Ltd. (www.hitachi.com) threw down the lithium-ion (li-ion) gauntlet with its claim of the world’s most power dense automotive battery: a 4,500 w/Kg li-ion battery, nearly twice of the output of its current generation. The battery employs a new manganese cathode, but retains the same basic architecture. Hitachi will start distributing test units this fall, and plans to start volume production and deliveries in 2010.
TRW’s (www.trw.com) latest demo for flat panel controls to replace knobs, buttons or sliders, use what’s called “Capacitive Touch Sensing.” Borrow an iPod Touch if you’d like a sense of it.
The idea is to bring the same sensation with both sound—and potentially haptic—feedback for more capacitive, or responsive, interior controls with an eye toward reducing driver distraction.
“We’ve done a lot with the surfacing to mimic big rotary knobs so they’re 100% capacitive,” says Dan Mittelbrun, senior manager, TRW Product Planning for North America Body Control Systems. “That means instead of having to look and touch this big control, you can grab it and turn it any way you want. And you’ll hear it go ‘click, click click.’”
The control unit itself is about 10-mm thick and weighs about 10% less than a conventional system, says Mittelbrun.