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Sensors can also increase a vehicle’s fuel efficiency

Continental says that its electronic horizon (eHorizon) sensor system can play just as important a role in vehicle fuel efficiency as the properties of the engine, weight and aerodynamics.

Based on high-precision topographic trip data and a GPS signal, the eHorizon supplies a three-dimensional profile of the route ahead to the Adaptive Cruise Control and other electronic control units in the vehicle. Together with software from the vehicle manufacturer which adapts the vehicle’s driving style to the road, helping to reduce fuel consumption.

In the last year, European truck maker, MAN has integrated the sensor system into its vehicles. Tests verified by TÜV have shown that it achieves fuel savings of more than 6%. By Continental’s estimates, it has been possible to save more than 195million litres of diesel fuel since 2012, when the technology went into series production. This corresponds to more than €260m and more than 515,000 metric tons of CO2.

The eHorizon continuously compares the position of the vehicle with high-precision topographical map material and passes information on the route ahead to other control units. These units automatically adapt the driving style and speed to the route ahead. For example, the vehicle accelerates before an uphill stretch in order to gain the greatest benefit from the available torque and reduces gear changes to a minimum. Before a downward incline, vehicle speed is reduced to take maximum advantage of the vehicle acceleration during the descent.

In the next expansion stage, the connected eHorizon, the sensor system can save data recorded by the vehicle locally and transmit it to a cloud-based environment. Here, the data from all vehicles fitted with the eHorizon is collated and made available to all users at regular intervals for map updates. This allows detailed information to be incorporated into a digital map or newly created for routes where only partial map data is available.

In the final expansion stage, the dynamic eHorizon, the digital map material is updated by interlinking it in real time to a location cloud. In addition, Continental intends to improve the maps with further information that is important for road users. Then the system will also warn the driver of suddenly occurring events such as poor weather, accidents or traffic jams.

Dr Michael Ruf, head of Continental’s Commercial Vehicles & Aftermarket Business Unit, said: “The eHorizon thus becomes a high-precision, up-to-date information carrier. This will not only improve driving comfort and driver safety, but also help commercial vehicle manufacturers to further reduce the total cost of ownership, which is a crucial factor for them.”

Tom Austin-Morgan

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