A key feature of developments in the automotive field is the growing number of control devices (ECUs) designed to enhance driving comfort and vehicle safety. This includes the expanding scope of functions offered by these control units such as increasing connectivity (car-to-car communication) and a rising number of novel drive systems (hybrids/e-cars). Software developments tend to be of a more mechatronic nature, with a focus on system stability and enriching additions from the types of software technologies that are normally associated with consumer markets, often with extremely short development cycles.
The really big future trend, however, is the shift toward “autonomous(ly driven) vehicles.” Most of the car companies are keeping close tabs on this trend and are developing their own vehicles and functions to match. Even beyond the world of automobiles, researchers are looking closely at this area, for example at Google.
As systems become increasingly complex, it’s difficult to be sure about anything without simulations, and the tools required for this are constantly being redeveloped and re-applied. More and more specialists are carrying out digital testing, even before experimenting on actual test benches, and this rapid prototyping is increasingly becoming standard practice.
In parallel to these developments, statutory guidelines are increasingly resulting in the development and production of vehicles with reduced emissions. One particularly important development in this respect relates to sensors for cleaning exhaust gases and cutting greenhouse gases. As the recent WHO Death Survey underscores: “Out of 100 deaths, 27 occur due to air pollution.” This alarming development was central to a study carried out by the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Systems Technology/Automotive (TZS/A). The study looked at air pollution and made it possible to capture new control process in one’s own vehicles.
The TZS/A has now been working with car companies and their suppliers for 15 years, providing support with such developments through a variety of services. These range from development to testing and application. The center’s aim is to help its clients conform to requirements and aspirations at every stage of the process, right up to the documentation of key findings and ultimate approvals.
These trends in the world of automobiles will bring about major change in how society travels from A to B. They will also have a major impact on development techniques and skills, and it is here that the Steinbeis philosophy of knowledge transfer between universities and industry has a meaningful contribution to make in providing constructive support during the necessary transition in industry.
This latest edition of the Steinbeis Transfer magazine turns the spotlight on the technology in the automotive field, looking at issues from a variety of angles and introducing a number of projects being carried out in the Steinbeis Network. I hope you find it an interesting read!
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hermann Kull
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hermann Kull is director of the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Systems Technology/ Automotive in Esslingen. Kull received a special Löhn award from the Steinbeis Foundation in 2010 for his outstanding contributions to knowledge and technology transfer.