With grave dangers lurking on the roads owing to pollution through auto emission and deaths due to faulty designs, car manufacturers the world over are engaged in a breakthrough in technology that will help curb car emissions, lessen fuel consumption and enhance safety on the roads. In this context the breakthrough in pedestrian detection technology by Volvo Car Corporation (VCC), and BlueEFFICIENCY and CGI Engine Technology introduced by Daimler AG that manufactures Mercedes-Benz cars, gain tremendous significance. Vision 2020 of Volvo Cars is also a policy that strengthens the commitment of car manufacturers to make roads safer for car drivers and pedestrians alike
Pedestrian Detection Technology of Volvo Cars
Volvo Car Corporation of Sweden, known internationally for its advanced car technology, has just launched a very advanced safety system called ‘Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Detection’. This Pedestrian Detection Technology (PDT) is a combination of norms, culture, incentives, regulation, standards, consumer programmes and other tools for innovative safety improvements. The system helps the cars and motorcycles to apply brakes automatically from the rear. The system’s working has specific stages. It uses a radar and camera for detecting and recognising the objects in front of the car. The objects are identified from the rear like cars, motorcycles and pedestrians (bicyclists too are seen as pedestrians). Then the system identifies a significant number of features of an object and tracks it to see if it poses a threat or not. It can follow a number of objects at the same time. If the situation becomes critical, a red warning flashes on the windscreen. If the driver does not react to that warning, the car activates full braking power (1.0g) automatically.
Anders Eugensson, Director, Governmental Affairs, Volvo Car Corporation, tells TrafficInfraTech, “Pedestrian accidents can be avoided thus for vehicle speeds lower than 35kmph. For higher speeds, impact speed can be reduced by 35kmph.” This system is now available in Volvo S60 and will be available in most Volvo vehicles this Fall.
Measures against overdependence of drivers on the system are also looked into. Active safety systems are primarily intended to support the driver. So in the first stages, the driver is informed and warned of the hazards. The autonomous systems get activated only when the intervention is needed. Eugensson says that the automatic braking systems “have been designed to be uncomfortable for the driver in order to discourage overdependence”. The Design criteria – AEB (Automatic Emergency Braking) systems – give a high jerk, have high deceleration, have a short stopping distance in front of the object and make a high braking noise to deter driver from depending on them.
Vision 2020 of Volvo Cars
Volvo Cars also has an ambitious project – Vision 2020 – which states that no occupant in a new Volvo car will be seriously injured or killed by 2020. “Nothing more than bruises or scratches,” avers Eugensson. “The aim of this vision is to prevent injuries to occupants and vulnerable road users (VRUSs) such as pedestrians.” All new safe technologies including PDT, Vehicle to Vehicle communication (VtV) and Vehicle to Infrastructure communication (VtI) being introduced by Volvo fall under this Vision. Historically, much emphasis has been placed on driver education and driver training.
A 2006 study (100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study), based on 43000 hours of data, recording of 100 cars, 241 drivers and 85 real collisions, showed that inattention by the driver contributed 93% to vehicle crashes and minor collisions. Eugensson opines, “Estimates show that human error, distraction or the limited human capability is a contributing factor in almost all crashes. One important task of the safety systems that needs to be developed is therefore to aid the drivers and, if the systems determine that further actions are needed, intervene and prevent or mitigate the crash.” More preventative systems by Volvo are under way during the next couple of years. By the year 2020, the benefit from preventative safety systems is expected to reach a level similar to the present level of protective safety systems.
CGI Technology in Mercedes-Benz Cars
Another big car company, Daimler AG, famous for manufacturing Mercedes-Benz Cars, Daimler trucks, Mercedes-Benz Vans and Daimler buses has recently introduced CGI Engine Technology to India through its Mercedes-Benz cars. The technology gives “effortless performance twinned with excellent fuel economy”. The CGI technology is the first of its kind in the world to use sophisticated petrol direct-injection engine with spray guided combustion process. The engine’s innovative injection procedure makes for much better fuel and thermodynamic efficiency than the wall-guided combustion process previously employed with direct injection.
Fast-acting piezoelectric injectors are the most important components of this innovative direct petrol injection system. They have nozzles which open outwards to create an annular gap of just a few microns’ width which shapes the fuel jet and produces a uniform, hollow-cone-shaped spray pattern.“The microsecond response times of the piezoelectric injectors provide the basis for delivering multiple injections per power stroke, and thus for lean-burn operation. By allowing flexible and efficient control of the combustion process, they play a key part in ensuring the engine’s outstanding fuel efficiency,” says Dr Wilfried Aulbur, Managing Director and CEO of Mercedes-Benz India.
The gasoline engine technology works thus: A pair of closed-loop three-way catalytic converters is joined by two NOX storage catalysers to remove exhaust gases and turn harmful oxides of nitrogen into harmless nitrogen. The engine’s innovative injection procedure makes for much better fuel and thermodynamic efficiency than the wall-guided combustion process previously employed with direct injection.
Mercedes-Benz has replaced its previous 4-in-line KOMPRESSOR Technology with CGI Technology. Its advantage lies in the stratified operating from which it takes its name. In this mode, the engine is run with high excess air and thus offers excellent fuel efficiency. Because of multiple injections, it has become possible for the first time to extend this lean-burn operating model mode to rpm and load ranges. During each power stroke, a series of injections takes place – spaced just fractions of a second apart. This has the effect of significantly improving mixture formation, combustion and fuel consumption.
C 200 CGI Engine
The C-Class (C 200 CGI) is the first Mercedes-Benz car to use the CGI petrol engine technology. Under its bonnet is a newly developed four-cylinder direct-injection unit with 137kw/186hp and a five-speed automatic transmission as standard. The engine uses 11.47km/litre of fuel knocking 0.78 litres off the values of the previous engine – C 200 Kompressor while the CO2 emissions have been reduced from 215g/km to 201g/km – 7% less than the previous four-cylinder Kompressor engine technology (131kw/178hp). It gives an output of 137kw at 5600rpm (approx. 5% increase over the C 200Kompressor). At the same time it offers increased bottom-end torque of 285Nm at 2400-4000rpm (C 200 Kompressor = 240Nm @ 3500 – 4500rpm). Thus the C 200CGI is keenly tuned in with the environmental objectives of lower emission at the same time becoming even more pleasurable to drive, more sporty and quick.
“With the new petrol engine, Mercedes-Benz shows that frugal consumption and high output – and with them both environment-friendly driving and driving pleasure – can be mutually compatible,” claims Dr. Aulbur. “Such technology has many benefits. From a cold start up, the exhaust temperature can now increase dramatically, ensuring maximum efficiency straight away. Also, the engine’s innovative injection procedure makes for much better fuel and thermodynamic efficiency than the wall-guided combustion process previously employed with direct injection,” he adds.
A little before the CGI Technology, Mercedes-Benz has also introduced its revolutionary BlueEFFICIENCY (BE) technology in India. With this, Mercedes-Benz began supporting the green fleet management as BE is a label which ‘identifies models that are able to help put the fleet on a more eco-friendly and cost-effective footing’. BlueEFFICIENCY models are part of Mercedes-Benz’s integrated BlueEFFICIENCY strategy which focuses on sustainability, low emissions and a high level of customer benefit.
Introduced in India with the E-Class Saloon as E 350 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY in 2009, the BE offers integrated measures for reducing fuel consumption using a complete package of efficiency-enhancing ideas. They include aerodynamically forged light with aluminium alloy wheels to reduce drag, intelligent energy management, in-engine measures, optimised tyre rolling resistance, closed underbody, lightweight design, rear designed rear view mirrors, reduced height to allow lesser wind resistance, new designs for the headlamps, and grilles and hood that lower the car’s drag by 7%. Its power steering hydraulic pump driven by electric motor remains active only when the steering wheel is turned and reduces energy & fuel consumption when driving straight ahead.
Says Dr. Aulbur, “With Blue efficiency, the brand offers a complete package of fuel efficient qualities combined with the characteristic brand features-safety, comfort and refined driving pleasure. The BlueEFFICIENCY label thus designates high level of environmental compatibility and further reflects the fact that all the processes along with the entire value added chain are geared to maximum efficiency and sustainability.”
CGI and BlueEFFICIENCY technology are available together for the first time in the newly introduced C200CGI BlueEFFICIENCY.