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VisionX concept study provides a glimpse into the future of truck driving
Automated driving in platoons will take the strain off drivers, improve economic efficiency, and make driving safer
Hybridization and connectivity help improve the overall cost picture
Stuttgart/Hannover – At the 66th IAA Commercial Vehicles trade fair, Bosch will be presenting a 40-ton smart device in the form of a truck tractor – all part of its VisionX concept study on the future of commercial vehicles. “Connected, electrified, and automated – that’s the future of trucks. And that’s what Bosch has encapsulated in VisionX,” says Dr. Markus Heyn, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. One of the many technologies envisaged in VisionX is platooning. Besides making life easier for drivers on long journeys, this also represents a significant safety improvement. What’s more, platooning offers a major boost to transport efficiency.
Platooning: automated slipstream driving on the freeway
In the future, multiple assistance systems will combine with automation to make trucks safer and more reliable – almost as if they were on rails. Vehicles will receive all the data they need in real time from the Bosch IoT Cloud, including information on their route, traffic congestion, detours, and the unloading facilities available at their destination. This lets them avoid downtime. What’s more, some aspects of driving will be taken over by the truck itself. For instance, once it reaches the freeway, it joins a platoon – a kind of freight train composed of trucks. In such a platoon, the truck is one of a number of trucks all following a lead vehicle to which they are electronically connected and linked. With the convoy members accelerating, braking, and steering in sync, automated driving reaches a whole new level, increasing safety and taking the strain off drivers. The driver steers the truck until it receives data identifying a suitable convoy. The same applies when the truck leaves the platoon to exit the freeway; at that point, the driver resumes control to complete the journey in manual or partially automated mode.
„Connected and automated trucks are the future, and we are looking to play a major part in their development.“
Dr. Markus Heyn, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH
Making life easier for drivers, particularly on long-haul routes
“Once the truck joins a convoy on the freeway, drivers can start planning their next route while still remaining in complete control. They can access all key information on the screens in their cab and take the wheel if they need to,” says Heyn. “Connected and automated trucks are the future, and we are looking to play a major part in their development.”
Boosting efficiency through hybrid technology and convoying
Increasing efficiency still further will continue to be a major focus in the future. That’s why the Bosch VisionX concept study takes the diesel engine – which is particularly economical in the world of heavy goods transport – and combines it with electric motors for auxiliary systems such as the hydraulic pump. Trucks of the future will benefit not only from this hybrid technology, but also from the advantages of convoying, which include improved safety thanks to coordinated braking, accelerating, and steering, as well as a significant economic plus. “In a convoy, you can combine the safety gains of automated driving with the efficiency boost that is so crucial to the commercial vehicle sector,” says Heyn. “Slipstream driving enables fuel savings of up to 10 percent. That’s a strong argument in the commercial vehicle industry.”
VisionX as part of the connected logistics chain
“Perfectly connected like a smart device, the truck of the future will become a key component of international logistics processes,” states Heyn. Bosch’s new systems will make drivers’ lives easier in many ways – from accepting shipping documents and loading the truck, to carrying out automated maneuvers once the truck arrives at its destination. By accessing the Bosch IoT Cloud, hauliers and customers will be able to track where the truck and its cargo are located at any point in time. What’s more, drivers will be able to find and reserve parking spaces along the route, making the journey less stressful.
Innovation is in the details, too
Although a truck’s fuel consumption plays a key role in the total cost of ownership, other factors also play a major part, such as the losses incurred when trucks stand idle. The Bosch VisionX concept study shows how much scope there is for optimizing this situation in the future, too. For example, predictive maintenance can monitor the technical condition of a truck in real time and inform the freight forwarder of any maintenance work or repairs that are due. This is the best way to plan breaks in a truck’s schedule, thus keeping downtime to a minimum and further boosting transport efficiency.
The car: the driver’s truly personal assistant Bosch car-of-the-future will experience a new kind of interaction between humans and technology. The car dashboard and central console have been transformed into an electronic display. The information shown on this giant display changes depending on the vehicle’s current surroundings. If a pedestrian approaches from the right, a lighting sequence is triggered to alert the driver. Drivers’ preferences as well as appointments in their diary are also taken into account. For example, if an appointment is cancelled, the car of the future will automatically indicate the route to the next appointment in the diary. Drivers will be able to activate the autopilot to free up even more time and make their journey more relaxed.
But tomorrow’s connected cars will also be capable of much more. With a connection to the smart home, they will enable household functions such as heating or security systems to be operated at any time. For example, should a courier attempt to deliver a package with no one at home, all it will take is the tap of a finger on the vehicle’s display to allow the courier to deposit the package inside the house and confirm receipt. Interaction with technology really will be able to take such varied forms, and offer such safety and convenience. Connected infotainment will let drivers navigate not just through the traffic but through their whole day. They will be able to use it to access online services and smartphone apps – and they will be able to control it using gestures and speech, just as if they were talking with a passenger. This will turn the car into the driver’s truly personal assistant.
A touchscreen that feels like it has real buttons In advance of the trade show, Bosch has received a CES 2016 Innovation Award in the In-Vehicle Audio/Video category for a new touchscreen. This device can generate different surface textures, allowing elements to be felt on the display. This haptic feedback makes it easier to operate infotainment applications such as navigation, radio, and smartphone functions. Often drivers will not even need to look at the information on the screen to control it – instead, they can keep their eyes on the road. The screen generates the feel of rough, smooth, and patterned surfaces to indicate different buttons and functions; to make a selection, a button needs to be pressed more firmly. What makes this special is that the touchscreen looks no different from an ordinary display – and yet it gives users the impression that they are pressing real buttons.
No need to fear wrong-way drivers: a guardian angel in the cloud Connectivity makes driver information more up to date than ever before. This is particularly important when it comes to wrong-way drivers. In general, it takes several minutes for radio stations to issue warnings over the airwaves, but a third of wrong-way driving incidents finish after just 500 meters. Bosch is currently developing a new cloud-based wrong-way driver alert that will let drivers know of any danger just ten seconds after it arises. As a pure software module, it can be integrated at low cost into smartphone apps such as Bosch’s myDriveAssist or existing infotainment systems. In order to detect wrong-way driving, the cloud-based function compares actual, anonymized vehicle movement on freeways with the permitted direction of travel. If there is a discrepancy, wrong-way drivers are warned of their error in a matter of seconds. At the same time, nearby cars traveling in the opposite direction are alerted to the danger. Starting in 2016, the new function will be available as a cloud service.
The highway pilot will increase road safety from 2020 Highly automated driving will further increase the safety of road traffic. This development will come to freeways in 2020. According to forecasts made by Bosch accident researchers, increasing automation can significantly reduce accident numbers – by up to a third in Germany alone. At CES 2016, Bosch will be showcasing the systems and sensors necessary for automated journeys in another demo vehicle at the Sands Expo. Visitors will also learn how the highway pilot works, a highly automated system that assumes all the driver’s tasks and responsibilities on freeways. This technology is already being tested on public roads. Bosch is testing automated driving on freeways not only in Germany and the United States but now also in Japan.
In the future, cars will also be able to see around bends and be aware of possible danger spots, thanks to a stream of real-time information from the internet on the location of traffic jams, construction sites, and accidents. This data will serve as an electronic “connected horizon” and give cars an even better picture of what lies ahead – further increasing safety and efficiency.
It’s up to cars, not drivers, to find a parking space Every journey ends with parking. To make this job easier, Bosch is developing a new function called automated valet parking. This solution does more than relieve drivers of the task of finding a vacant space in a parking garage: it enables cars to park themselves. Drivers can simply leave the car at the entrance to the parking garage. Using a smartphone app, they then instruct their car to find a space for itself. When ready to leave, they call the car back to the drop-off point in the same way. Fully automated parking relies on smart infrastructure in parking garages plus the vehicle’s on-board sensor systems – and connectivity for both. Sensors in the pavement provide up-to-date information on where free parking spaces are located, so cars know where to go. Bosch is developing not only the fully automated parking function but also all the necessary components in-house
The car of the future is connected. It uses up-to-the-minute information from the internet to get vehicle occupants to their destination even more safely, efficiently, and conveniently. This integration into the internet of things also unlocks a host of vehicle-related services. “Connectivity is clearly revolutionizing the way we drive,” says Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, the Bosch board of management member responsible for this area. “Bosch delivers the necessary hardware and software, and is developing a range of attractive services.” The company’s strategy is opening up business opportunities as well. This is borne out by existing studies on the internet of things, all of which indicate that there is enormous market potential in the mobility sector. Hoheisel goes on to note that “the number of services in particular will rise considerably.” Thanks to its comprehensive systems expertise and product portfolio, Bosch is already in a solid position to tap that potential. The technology company addresses all levels of the IoT with its sensors, IoT software, and a diverse range of services. And this is true not just of Bosch’s mobility business, but of all the company’s other business sectors as well.
A few weeks ago, Bosch premiered a cloud-based alert that warns drivers within ten seconds if there is a wrong-way driver approaching. The warning system, which is scheduled to go into production in 2016, is a connected lifesaver in the true sense of the word. As early as 2012, Bosch began operating an enhanced eCall service and a mobile information service on behalf of several automakers. The service provides accident assistance and also lends support on all other issues. And finally, several fleet operators are already using a connected fleet management solution that Bosch launched in 2014.
Bosch technology puts the car online
To connect the car with the internet, Bosch pursues two main approaches. First, it makes full use of the driver’s smartphone. Using the integrated mySPIN solution, drivers can link their Android and iOS devices to the vehicle’s infotainment system. Selected apps can then be conveniently operated from the vehicle’s central display. This technology has been featured in Jaguar and Land Rover models since 2014. Use of it in Asia is spreading, driven by contracts with two other automakers in China plus an alliance with the Chinese internet company Tencent.
Bosch’s second approach constitutes equipping the vehicle with connectivity hardware in the form of a connectivity control unit, or CCU. The CCU receives and transmits information using a wireless module equipped with a SIM card. It can also determine the vehicle’s position using GPS if desired. Bosch offers devices specifically adapted to cars, commercial vehicles, motorcycles, off-highway vehicles, and even railway freight cars. Just a few weeks ago, for example, Bosch won a contract to optimize the logistics processes of the Swiss rail freight operator SBB Cargo.
Connected to the vehicle’s electrical system via the OBD interface, the CCU is available both as original equipment and as a retrofit solution. This makes it possible for fleet operators to retrofit their existing vehicles as well. The Bosch subsidiary Mobility Media also markets this solution for private users under the name Drivelog Connect. A smartphone connected to the CCU can display vehicle data, offer tips on fuel-efficient driving, and, in the event of a breakdown, immediately contact a towing service and the garage if required.
A connected car drives more proactively than any person
Information on traffic jams, black ice, and wrong-way drivers is available in the cloud. When combined with infrastructure data from parking garages and charge spots, this provides a broader perspective – the “connected horizon”. As Hoheisel puts it: “In the connected vehicle, the driver can see over the top of the next hill, around the next bend, and beyond.” Because future cars will warn drivers in plenty of time about sudden fog or about a line of cars stopped behind the next bend, driving will be safer. Connectivity also enhances vehicle efficiency. For example, precise data about traffic jams and the road ahead makes it possible to optimize charging management in hybrid and electric vehicles along the selected route. And because the car thinks ahead, the diesel particulate filter can be regenerated just before the car exits the freeway, and not in the subsequent stop-and-go traffic. Connectivity improves convenience as well, as it is a prerequisite for automated driving. It is the only way to provide unhurried braking in advance of construction zones, traffic jams, and accident scenes.
Predictive diagnostics cut service times
Along with driving data and information on the vehicle’s surroundings, the connected car also captures data on the operation of individual components. Running this data through sophisticated algorithms permits preventive diagnostics. For example, the data collected from an injection nozzle can be put through distributed algorithms in the cloud and in the vehicle in order to predict the part’s remaining service life. The driver or fleet operator can be notified immediately and an appointment made with the workshop in good time. In this way, it is often possible to avoid expensive repair and down times, especially for large commercial vehicles.
Yet connectivity doesn’t stop at the entrance to the repair shop. Mechanics can use transmitted vehicle data to price spare parts and labor much more quickly. In the future, their repairs will benefit from Bosch augmented reality solutions, which use a tablet computer to provide a sort of X-ray vision. When a mechanic takes the tablet and holds it under the hood, for example, the tablet’s camera image is overlaid with comprehensive additional information and repair instructions for precisely the area being displayed. The mechanic can manipulate the overlaid objects via the touchscreen and call up additional information. This makes poring through service handbooks a thing of the past. A Bosch server provides all the detailed data online.
Bosch and TomTom partner on innovative mapping technology for automated driving
High-precision maps are essential for highly automated driving
Bosch is using TomTom maps in its automated test vehicles
Freeways and freeway-like roads in Germany to be digitized for automated driving by the end of 2015
Maps for highly automated driving have to be accurate to decimeter precision
Collaboration will result in innovative vehicle positioning concepts
The development of automated driving is a puzzle with many pieces. Together with the Dutch map and traffic provider TomTom, Bosch is getting closer to the complete picture. The two companies have agreed to collaborate in the area of maps for highly automated driving. Under this agreement, TomTom is designing the necessary maps, while Bosch, on the basis of its systems engineering work, is defining the specifications these maps have to meet. Even now, the maps are already being used in the automated vehicles Bosch is testing on certain public roads in Germany (A81) and in the United States (I280). Commenting on the importance of this venture, the Bosch board of management member Dr. Dirk Hoheisel says: “Only with high precision maps will automated driving on freeways be possible from 2020.” And Jan Maarten de Vries, Vice President Automotive at TomTom, adds: “By the end of 2015, we want to have new high-precision maps for automated driving for all freeways and freeway-like roads in Germany.” Road coverage will subsequently be extended to the rest of Europe and North America.
Multiple map layers, significantly increased accuracy Maps for highly automated driving and the maps used in current navigation systems differ primarily in two respects. First, accuracy is significantly higher – down to decimeter precision. Second, the map material for highly automated driving consists of multiple layers. The traditional base navigation layer is used to calculate routes from A to B, including the sequence of roads to be driven. The localization layer uses a novel positioning concept providing highly accurate map data, which the automated vehicle uses to accurately calculate its position within a lane. To do this, the vehicle compares its sensed environment with the corresponding information in the localization layer. In this way, the vehicle can accurately define its position relative to the road and its surroundings. On top of the localization layer, the planning layer contains not only attributes such as lane divider types, traffic signs, speed limits, etc., but also 3D information about road geometry, including curves and slopes. With the help of this very detailed lane information, the automated vehicle can decide things such as when and how to change lane.
In highly automated driving, safety and comfort depend crucially on map material that is up to date. For example, up-to-the-minute speed-limit information has to be available instantly. Only then can vehicles select the best proactive driving strategy. In this regard, Bosch and TomTom rely on several elements and services to keep the map data up to date: the TomTom mapping fleet will continue to be regularly on the road, accurately mapping new roads and routes. And to register recent changes on the roads, such as changed lane configurations or new traffic signs, TomTom and Bosch plan to use feedback from fleets of vehicles equipped with the necessary sensors. Information about changed road conditions captured this way will be transferred to a server, verified, and entered in the digital map database. The updated map will then be fed back to the highly automated driving vehicle, enabling it to see effectively beyond its sensors.
Extension of existing, successful partnership For Bosch and TomTom, this collaboration in the area of maps for highly automated driving is an extension of an already existing, successful partnership. For Bosch’s connected horizon, TomTom also provides dynamic map information via their real-time service backend – albeit without any localization layer. In this way, the connected horizon makes it possible to predict the route ahead and adapt driving strategy accordingly. This solution was demonstrated for the first time in 2014, at the IAA Commercial Vehicles trade show in Hanover. The system recognizes potential black spots behind hills, or the start of a traffic jam, at an early stage, and automatically reduces the speed of the vehicle well in good time. This considerably reduces the risk of rear-end collisions. In addition, smoother driving behavior means more comfort for the driver and improved fuel efficiency for the vehicle.