Listening to the Customer

Rapidly-Developing Automated DrivingExpectation to the Component Which Controls Security and Safety to Synchronize of the Electronic Circuit

Minenori Enomoto
General Manager, Eng.Dept6 Driving Assisit & Safety Eng.Div 3 DENSO CORPORATION

As electronics makes advances, the automotive industry keeps evolving.

Next-generation vehicles are now poised for an exhilarating take off.

DENSO is a top-level automotive components supplier that provides advanced automotive technologies, systems, and products to almost all of the world's major vehicle manufacturers.

High-quality and high-precision electronic components play a major part in the advancement of vehicle electronics.

Among such components, the timing device is essential for wholly balancing the electronic circuitry.

Our expectations for Murata will be even greater going forward as we leverage Murata's combination of ceramic and quartz technologies.

2020―The Target for Making Automated Driving a Reality

The use of and advances in vehicle electronics have seen dramatic progress. Today the focus is particularly on the road-going, automated vehicle. The government has set the early 2020s (a decade highlighted by the Tokyo Summer Olympics) as the target for achieving this technology. The direction for achieving automated driving is to make further advancements to already-commercialized driver assistance systems, with testing on public roads nearing full-fledged status. Obviously, vehicle manufacturers are taking the lead in developing such cars, but home appliance and motor manufacturers, as well as software companies from the information industry, are also entering the development race. It is no surprise that the players taking the lead in this space have the technology for and capability of collecting and analyzing big data, including electronic data and map information. The realignment of players has been rather swift.

The Challenge Brought About by Automated Driving―How to Spread a New Culture and New Ethics

DENSO is also conducting trials for automated driving technology, which we believe is definitely feasible. However, the problem is the approach to automated driving, i.e., the ideas and ethics of the technology. Each nation has their own concept for automated driving, but concepts will also vary even within a nation depending on age and gender. For example, a characteristic city-driving situation in Japan is that of a pedestrian watching out for a vehicle at an intersection or side street. The pedestrian is looking at the driver, not at the vehicle itself. The pedestrian needs eye contact to confirm that the driver is aware of him/her. The pedestrian would be very fearful of crossing in front of the car if the driver is sleeping and does not see him/her. Since an automated vehicle is under control and aware of people around the car, it is capable of stopping and avoiding people. However, the pedestrian must be notified that the vehicle is automated and is therefore safe. Hazard lights or lamps may be used to perform such notification, but will the pedestrian understand that the blinking lights signify that the vehicle is being self-driven? A foundation for the common pedestrian to understand such signals is critical.

The Goal for Advancements in Collision Safety Research Is a World Free of Traffic Accidents

Another aspect of advanced vehicles is the area of passive safety. Safety provisions in this area today include airbag countermeasures that anticipate collisions from the front and sides. The trend going forward is the collection of periphery information and the provision of countermeasures against angled collisions or against collisions where two vehicles enter an intersection at the same time. The collected periphery information would include vehicles that are traveling in the vicinity as well as information on those vehicles so that a drop in speed by a vehicle ahead would be perceived to enable collision countermeasures. As the supporting infrastructure develops, vehicles would be controlled based on received information from intersections and traffic conditions. Advancements in vehicle-to-vehicle and road-to-vehicle information communication will be a further step for achieving the goal of zero traffic accidents. Aside from automated driving, vehicle safety technology advancements are being made in very practical ways as well in the real world.

Security and Safety Are Fundamental―To Save As Many Lives As Possible

In both automated driving and passive safety, security and safety are major themes. Since we at DENSO are passionate about security and safety, we have made these initiatives our mission so that people around the world will continue to love their vehicles. The world now requires security and safety functions to be designed into the product.

For example, airbags are unlike other products in that they do not operate in normal conditions. But when they do operate, they must protect precious human lives. Their role is to unfailingly operate to save the lives that can be saved at that critical moment.

There are various aspects to security and safety, the first of which is everyday confidence. Everyday confidence is the delivery of warnings to the driver when danger is perceived before a collision or intervention by automatic control if the driver does not take notice. This is the realm of detection to prediction for accident prevention, where the surrounding conditions are read and preparations are made for imminent danger.

Even so, the probability of a collision is not completely eliminated. In the case of a collision, the provision of extraordinary safety comes into play. Extraordinary safety includes the transmission of information to emergency services such as a call for an ambulance and the police when an airbag has activated due to a collision. Even in this case, the data would first be analyzed to determine the severity of the accident. What was the speed of the collision? Was the collision with another vehicle, a person, or a building? The response would be determined based on the severity, such as the need to make an urgent request for an ambulance or air ambulance, whether there are injured persons, or whether the vehicle is still operable. Our exploration into security and safety includes the categorization of accident scenarios and the prioritization of necessary responses, and even goes as far as the provision of post-crash assistance. Our strategy is to always seek ways to save lives, to save the lives that can be saved.

Automated Driving

Automated vehicles are self-driving vehicles that do not require a human driver. Note that autopilot systems have already been widely accepted for use as piloting systems on airliners. A report from overseas states that Google has begun discussions with the world's major automobile manufacturers including Toyota Motor Corporation, Volkswagen (VW), Daimler, GM and Ford to commercialize fully automated driving by 2020. Domestically, Nissan Motor Company announced that it will be installing automated driving technology on multiple models by 2020 and Toyota Motor Corporation also announced a prototype equipped with automated driving technology. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has released a roadmap and announced that early 2020 will be its target for achieving this technology. Given all these reports, it is very likely that automated vehicles will be running on public roads by the time the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics open.

Big Data

Big data is a term that refers to data sets so large and complex that data processing software running on traditional computers cannot handle them. As a result of the recent and rapid advances in electronics, vehicles too are now capable of inexpensively collecting and exchanging in-vehicle data in real time. Big data in this case applies to all such data that is constantly gathered to a central location via connections to external communication networks. For instance, the motions of the vehicle can be monitored by gathering all the signals transmitted by the in-vehicle electronic circuits and sensors to one location. The data thus collected by vehicles is called probe information and is gathering attention as big data for vehicles. The strong association of probe information with the peripheral automotive segment will likely drive the creation of a new market in this space.

Vehicle Security and Safety-Borne by a Critical Component, the Timing Device

As the use of electronics in vehicles rapidly grows, synchronization becomes necessary between the electronic circuitry. The advances made in vehicular electronics now mean that ICs and sensors are embedded in many locations in a car. These circuits need to be synchronized with a component called a timing device.

Vehicles have ECU (Electronic Control Unit) that require a microcomputer to provide comprehensive control, such as for electronically controlling the operation of the engine. With so many electronic systems in a vehicle today, the need to ensure that all the electronic products are synchronized is unprecedented, unlike that of traditional mechanical designs. Every electronic product is off by a subtle amount and must be corrected and speedily synchronized with high precision. Timing devices have therefore become an extremely critical component in vehicles.

Initially, vehicle timing devices were designed from quartz, but now that the precision of ceramic timing devices has improved, we are now using CERALOCK. The key factor for selection is driven by price and size, where product height was the clinching factor. When technologies such as Ethernet communications are implemented in vehicles going forward, greater precision will be required. In this case, quartz-based timing devices will likely be employed. I believe both quartz and ceramics will find applications.

Miniaturization and Mounting Are Inseparable Technologies Greater Quality and Precision Are What Saves Lives

Although electronics have shrunk quite a bit, high quality and high precision definitely take priority over miniaturization. Miniaturization also poses problems when mounting the components. We would have a predicament if the automation process could not assemble the component because it is too small. So I would like to see both technologies for miniaturization and mounting to be realized together.

In my current job, I am engaged in airbag development. When a collision accident occurs, the airbag deploys in the realm of several milliseconds (1/1,000 of a second). However, the realm of automated driving and passive safety calls for much faster response times in tens or hundreds of microseconds (1/10,000 to 1/100,000 of a second). Obviously, as the speed of a vehicle increases, the distance traveled in one millisecond becomes greater. Risk increases when the speed goes up from 30 km/h to 80 or 100 km/h. Any error in time will also have a significant impact. It is because human lives are at stake that the high quality and high precision demanded of automotive components is so critical.

A Desire for Knowledge of Failure Modes The Ideal Component Is Not Dependent on Temperature

Vehicle electronics are expected to perform with high quality. Since the useful life of a vehicle has notably lengthened recently from five years to ten years, durability is essential. But no product, whatever it may be, keeps operating forever, so we would like to know what modes of failure there are for a product. If you bend a hard metal, for instance, it will break and the wire will snap, but a soft metal will bend and not snap in some cases. A current will still continue to flow through a bent wire as it gradually breaks, a symptom that is difficult to detect. There are many failure modes so we always have to be anticipating and checking these modes of failure. But even the scope of this method has its limitations. If the conditions of failure become clear, or the component can make a self-determination by performing a self-diagnosis and thereby detect an anomaly, the component would be much friendlier to use.

I would also like to see components that are temperature-independent, components that operate normally in temperatures as low as -40°C and as high as +100°C. We have no idea what conditions a vehicle will be driven in, be it in blistering desert heat or in ice fields of frigid cold. Globally, most parts of the world always have a summer and a winter, so if there is a component of which the performance is impervious to temperature, our design work becomes incredibly easier. In that sense, the temperature dependency of electronic components is also critical alongside the advances in vehicle electronics.

Personally, I am interested in technologies developed for outer space. I think there are many things that come into view when we have that bird's-eye view from outer space. One such thing that has my attention is 3D maps. There is a big difference between perceiving and not perceiving the ups and downs of a road on which a vehicle is traveling. A person determines the control of the vehicle based on the 3D information he/she perceives, such as stepping on the accelerator when going uphill or engine braking when going downhill. Going forward, we believe that 3D technology will be very useful when thinking about automated driving.

Japan's World-Leading Technology Multi-Faceted Future Opportunities for Global eployment of Technology

Advancements in vehicles have rushed from the mechanical to the electronic realm and are now rushing headlong into the realm of information. In the past, vehicles did not have any links to external communication networks, but going forward such connections will be essential. There are problems both with communication technologies and security. Since vehicle security and safety involve human life, these cannot be ignored.

It is in these very areas that Japan's level of technology leads the world, but Europe is ahead in terms of standards and standardization. The USA is strong in the software area, especially in the area of security in which vulnerabilities are identified to improve security. Undoubtedly, the development of the automotive area will proceed on a global scale as the characteristics of each nation and region come into play. DENSO's strength lies in its business relationships with a broad array of vehicle manufacturers including manufacturers in the USA and Europe. The challenge is that even if we produce superior or high-quality products, they will not sell if we misinterpret the trends in the world. Determining where we should compete and where we should not compete is becoming increasingly critical.

DENSO's Automated Driving Tests

DENSO Commences Testing of Advanced Driver Support Technology on Public Roads

In late June 2014, DENSO began public road testing on Minamichita Road in Aichi Prefecture to develop advanced driver support technology. The aim of the technology is to achieve support for safe driving and to reduce the driver workload. Automated lane keeping and lane changes are two of the test items among others.

Although DENSO previously worked on the development of these technologies on a test course, the goal of public road testing is the identification, analysis and resolution of challenges that cannot be achieved on the test course, and the establishment of the technology.

DENSO is engaged in the development of advanced driver support technology for greater security and safety during driving, while seeking to respect the intent of the driver. Development and commercialization of advanced driver support technology will help prevent traffic accidents and contribute to increased security and safety of our automotive society.

The tests are being conducted as part of the activities led by the Vehicle Safety Technology Project Team for reducing traffic accidents. The project team is organized by the Aichi prefectural government and involves companies and organizations operating in the prefecture.

ECU (Electronic Control Unit)

Electronic control units are computer circuits that comprehensively control electronic auxiliary devices used for operation control. They are automotive electronic control devices. The units are embedded into various systems including engine, air conditioning, and safety-related ABS (anti-lock brake system) and airbag systems. Thanks to electronics, vehicle control systems, including power systems such as engine control and cabin systems such as AC control, have become quite advanced. Due to the increase in the number of systems requiring control, the number of ECUs embedded per vehicle has increased from about 30 units in 1992-1993 to about 50 to 60 units per vehicle today. Embedding these ECUs into cramped spaces makes miniaturization critical.