BRIMLEY, MI – Top-tier supplier Continental continues to roll out an increasingly complex suite of automotive technologies designed to improve safety and prevent accidents, in part through the steady advancement of autonomous functions in vehicles.

Reducing the 35,000 auto-related fatalities in the U.S. annually and 1.2 million fatalities worldwide is the driving force, says Jeremy McClain, director-Systems & Technology, North America, Chassis & Safety Division at Continental.

“We would never accept that in any other industry, but we accept it somehow in automotive mainly because we haven’t yet been able to avoid it,” McClain says, noting that myriad factors including distracted driving and driver error are at fault. “It’s technology that’s going to help reduce that.”

At an event here at Continental’s development and test center in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the company shows advancements in autonomous driving and adaptive cruise control, camera-based rearview mirrors, a compact high-resolution Lidar unit and specialized camera systems designed to assist on- and off-road driving.

Technologies include:

  • Cruising Chauffeur, a system capable of handling the driving on open highways like Cadillac Super Cruise, improved with the ability to autonomously maneuver through an interchange as directed by a navigation system. Continental classifies Cruising Chauffeur as highly autonomous driving for highway use only. New is the minimal risk maneuver, which will pull the vehicle over to a safe stop if the driver doesn’t respond to prompts, along with a new and more informative instrument cluster incorporating Continental’s driver analyzer camera. The system also incorporates the capability to navigate highway interchanges, allowing a vehicle to follow a predetermined route and autonomously exit one freeway and enter another without driver intervention.
  • Smart Cruise control, which gives the vehicle the ability to adapt following distances based on driving style and conditions. “It will learn how you adapt your gap settings in traffic to keep people from cutting you off, and then it can apply those gap settings automatically and dynamically based on what it sees in traffic and the traffic patterns around you,” McClain says.
  • A fifth-generation camera that provides a wider-opening angle to enable cross-traffic detection and low-light function while enabling a neural network to better learn and understand the space ahead and identify objects such as trees, signs and buildings.
  • V2X upgrades that communicate not only between a vehicle and infrastructure, but also with other vehicles in area. Although the supplier has shown this technology for a number of years, the system is improved to provide assist with blind left turns, prevent wrong-way driving and detect and respond with braking to prevent a cross-path traffic accident when another vehicle isn’t stopping for a red light.
  • High-resolution flash Lidar which emits a laser pulse that bounces back to the sensor, eliminating the need for tall, rotating Lidar units. Flash Lidar can be mounted in the same space as a hood emblem and provide 2D and 3D images.
  • Next-generation tire-pressure monitor that uses the company’s existing tire-well-mounted sensor to measure and estimate tread depth. Continental believes the technology could be highly valuable for fleet vehicles.
  • Mirror replacement cameras that provide a clearer view of what is around the car via screens mounted inside the car, on the left and right ends of the dashboard and on the center stack.
  • Electronic Suspension System with Crosslink allows larger air-suspension articulation by transferring air pressure from one side of vehicle to the other via a central valve.
  • While Continental’s off-road cruise control isn’t new, the supplier now adds an undercarriage camera to provide a clear view of terrain and rocks over which a vehicle might be crawling, complete with a camera washer to keep the lens clean.

    bgritzinger@wardsauto.com @bobgritzinger