John Day

News and commentary on automotive EE trends and topics

24 June, 2015

sae logo

Call for Papers: SAE World Congress April 12-14 2016

If you have an idea for a paper or presentation you’d like to deliver at the 2016 SAE World Congress, now’s the time to start working on it. Submit your abstract online ( Papers are due September 1 and should be final by October 16.

SAE Members who author technical manuscripts can attend the World Congress free of charge.

Here’s what you need to get started:

1. A summary that states the objective of the paper/presentation
2. Tentative title
3. Name of the author and co-authors and all contact information
4. Selection of the most appropriate technical session

Here are the technical sessions:

• Electrical & Electronic Systems
• Electrical Systems Engineering
• Digital Modeling
• Design Tools
• Electronics in Powertrain
• Electronics in the Interior
• Testing & Instrumentation
• Electronics in Transportation
• Lighting Technology
• Advanced Electronics Functions
• Cybersecurity

• Emissions
• Thermal Systems
• Sustainable Systems
• Noise Reduction and Abatement
• Alternative Fuels and Power Sources
• Lightweighting and Energy Reduction

• Ferrous
• Non-Ferrous
• Materials Modeling & Testing
• Polymers & Coatings
• Bearings, Lubricant Systems & Tribology
• Biomaterials
• Interiors/Seating
• Automotive Composities
• Interiors
• Plastic Components, Process and Technologies

• Virtual Engineering E-manufacturing
• Accelerated Testing and Vehicle Reliability
• OEM Global Supply Chain
• Reliability & Robust Design in Automotive Engineering
• Axiomatic Design
• Design for Manufacturing
• Six Sigma
• Reliability Testing and DOE
• Modeling & Validation
• Lean Manufacturing for the Mobility Industry
• Concurrent Engineering
• Body Design & Engineering
• Design Optimization: Methods & Applications
• Body Structures
• Rapid Prototyping

• Fuel Cells, Electric Vehicles and Hybrids
• Other Non-Traditional Powertrains
• Fuel & Additive Effects on Combustion
• Compression Ignition Engines
• Spark Ignition Engines
• High Efficiency and Reduced CO2/km
• Control and Optimization
• Engine Components and Subsystems
• Lubricants
• Transmissions & Drivelines
• Engine Flows and Combustion Diagnostics
• In-Cylinder Velocity Measurements
• Heat Transfer and Advances in Thermal & Fluid Sciences
• Multi-Dimensional Modeling
• Vehicle & Engine Systems Analysis & Modeling

• V2V/V2I Safety
• Active Safety
• Occupant Protection
• Fire Safety
• Body Design & Engineering
• Design Optimization: Methods & Applications
• Body Structures
• Corrosion Prevention
• Digital Human Modeling
• Glass Applications
• Human Factors
• Lighting Technology
• Aerodynamics
• Wiper Systems
• Steering, Chassis & Suspension
• Tires & Wheels
• Vehicle Dynamics and Simulation
• Motorsports
• Functional/ Passive Safety
• Electronics in Safety
• Noise, Vibration, and Harshness (NVH)


And here’s another idea: Why not consider volunteering to review technical papers? To learn more about that, email SAE.  Members who author technical manuscripts can also attend the World Congress free of charge.


19 June, 2015
paul hansen

Paul Hansen

A highlight of Mentor Graphics’ annual IESF event in Detroit is an industry overview by Paul Hansen, editor and publisher of The Hansen Report on Automotive Electronics.

At this year’s event Hansen stressed the importance of software (“Of all the ingredients that comprise the vehicle’s automotive electronics, software is by far the most important”), innovation in Silicon Valley (“…where carmakers are going to find the app developers who will come up with the next great innovations in entertainment and the mobile experience”), over-the-air software updates (“carmakers can’t defend against cyberattacks without the ability to frequently update their vehicles with the latest cybersecurity software. Plus, the economic benefits are substantial”), and much more.

“A number of the world’s major carmakers, including BMW, Mercedes, Renault-Nissan, Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota and GM, are developing highly-automated driving features that will let drivers turn their attention to things other than driving when they are on expressways,” Hansen told IESF attendees. “Highly automated driving is slated for 2020, but it must be accompanied by the ability to do over-the-air updates. Control algorithms will need to be frequently updated once the vehicles are on the road and carmakers begin to collect and analyze real-world performance data.”

According to Egil Juliussen, automotive technology senior director and analyst at IHS, by 2020 one-fifth of new production, or some 26 million vehicles produced globally, will have the ability to accept software updates over the air, either by embedded modems or brought-in devices.

The Most Confounding Challenge

“Among all of the challenges facing carmakers, none are more confounding than the challenge of building defenses against cybersecurity attacks,” Hansen said. “The auto industry is very aware that today’s vehicles are not well defended against cyberattacks. Tomorrow’s vehicles, with multiple wireless connections to the cloud and the world outside the vehicle, will be even more vulnerable.” He added that the industry is currently scrambling to understand the threat and find solutions.

“Carmakers worldwide are considering how automotive hardware and software must change to look for and protect against intrusion and harden connected vehicles against cyberattacks. Those changes are likely to impact many parts of the electrical and electronic system starting with vehicle architecture,” Hansen said. “Still, there will be no cybersecurity without the ability to provide over-the-air software updates to vehicle control system ECUs.”

Hansen concluded, “Companies who are looking for big problems to solve should consider investing in automotive cybersecurity, a fast-growing market segment that will be around for a long time.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

16 June, 2015

It’s no fun to drive over a pothole, and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) wants to minimize if not eliminate the chances of it happening to people driving their cars.

JLR is researching a new connected car technology that will allow a vehicle to identify the location and severity of potholes, broken drains and manhole covers, and then share this data in real-time via the cloud with other vehicles and with road authorities to help them prioritize repairs, as in vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X).

If a car could receive a warning from another vehicle about potholes or broken manholes, drivers would be able to slow down and avoid them – or the car could adjust suspension settings to reduce the impact and smooth the ride.

pothole_final_Cropper_Header“Our MagneRide equipped Range Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport vehicles feature sophisticated sensors that allow the vehicle to profile the road surface under the wheels and identify potholes, raised manholes and broken drain covers,” says JLR Global Connected Car Director Mike Bell.

“By monitoring the motion of the vehicle and changes in the height of the suspension, the car is able to continuously adjust the vehicle’s suspension characteristics, giving passengers a more comfortable ride over uneven and damaged road surfaces.”

Besides giving JLR customers a more comfortable ride, Bell sees an opportunity to turn vehicle sensor information into “big data” that could be shared to benefit other road users.

The next stage of the project at Jaguar Land Rover’s Advanced Research Centre in the UK is to install new road surface sensing technology in the Range Rover Evoque research vehicle, including an advanced forward-facing stereo digital camera.

“At the moment the most accurate data comes from when the car has driven over the pothole or manhole,” Bell says, “so we are also researching how we could improve the measurement and accuracy of pothole detection by scanning the road ahead, so the car could predict how severe they are before the vehicle gets near them.”

Bell sees the ability to sense the road ahead and assess hazards as a key step in JLR’s journey to the autonomous car. “In the future, we are looking to develop systems that could automatically guide a car around potholes without the car leaving its lane and causing a danger to other drivers. If the pothole hazard was significant enough, safety systems could slow or even stop the car to minimize the impact. This could all help make future autonomous driving a safe and enjoyable reality.”

JLR’s research team will also work with the Coventry City Council to understand how road profile information could be shared with road authorities, and what data would be most useful for road maintenance teams to identify and prioritize repairs.

, , , , ,

29 May, 2015

Perhaps they (who dinged my car) were backing out of a parking space somewhere and hit it, or whatever, but they didn’t leave a note. Yes, I know it’s pretty far down the list of bad things that can happen in the world, but it chipped paint from the rear bumper and it needs to be fixed before it gets worse.

Now I can wait a week or so to deal with this while the car sits in my driveway, but suppose the same thing happened to a rental car? I (or whomever the renter may be) would have to deal with the damage immediately.

Claims involving responsibility for nicks, scratches and more serious damage can become a major issue.
Before a customer rents a car the customer and a rental company agent conduct what often becomes a cursory inspection. Any scratches or dents? Record them. Then repeat the process, often with a different agent, when the car is returned.

If a scratch or dent is discovered, where and when did it occur, and who should pay to have it fixed?

HELLA, a 100-plus year-old Tier One that manufactures a variety of electronic products for cars, has developed sensor-based technology it calls SHAKE, which can help provide answers to the “where and when did it happen” questions and other insurance-related issues.

hella IMG_0895The number of sensors in cars is growing. Most monitor and/or diagnose conditions inside the car. SHAKE sensors monitor and track what happens outside the car. Fewer than a dozen sensors, each smaller than a credit card, can do a thorough job. They are typically mounted behind the car’s front and rear bumpers and its doors so they do not mar the car’s appearance.

HELLA says SHAKE can identify minor as well as major damage; scratches, for example, whether smaller or larger than 10cm, that may have been missed during a pre-rental inspection.

Currently, when a fleet owner finds damages after the customer has returned the vehicle it can contact the customer, but cannot clearly prove that the customer actually caused the damage. The customer, in fact, may not even be aware that the car was damaged.

With SHAKE installed, however, the fleet owner knows precisely when the scratch or dent occurred, where the car was at the time, and who had possession. With those questions answered objectively, the potential for cost saving over time is significant, and customers will know immediately if they are responsible for the cost of repair. Some will be glad that they purchased sufficient insurance.

As a new car option, a SHAKE damage-detection system should have considerable appeal to consumers as well, especially if there are younger drivers in the family or the car will be frequently left on public parking lots or valet parked. Or if it’s me.

, , ,

26 May, 2015

The MIT AgeLab, New England University Transportation Center (also at MIT) and Agero are collaborating to study the relative safety benefits of various kinds of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) in different operating contexts.

A primary goal is to help influence how an auto insurer might decide what manufacturers’ systems merit a discount, how different drivers might adapt to ADAS technologies, and what embedded or hand-held technologies might impose undue risks.

Jeff Blecher agero

Jeff Blecher, Sr VP, Agero

“Automakers are taking different paths regarding driver attention,” says Jeff Blecher, Agero Senior VP, Strategy. “Some are using eye tracking technologies, some are requiring you to keep your hands on the steering wheel, and others are relying on the driver to mostly self-monitor.”

He adds that anecdotal evidence suggests drivers are relying too heavily on semi-autonomous features. “In (NHTSA) level 2 automation the driver needs to be able to take control at a moment’s notice; therefore, understanding the impact of the driver’s behavior and relative attention will be critical in understanding the overall impact to safety of these new systems. That is the intention of the study that Agero and MIT are working on.

“The degree to which the driver can resume control in an emergency will largely depend on how engaged drivers are, which largely depends on how much they trust these systems. We want to understand how real drivers will respond to these new technologies over an extended period of time.”
Blecher says part of the problem is that consumers don’t often understand the limitations of the existing technologies and then use the technologies in ways for which they are not designed. “For example, there are consumers that are using adaptive cruise control systems in non-highway environments with unexpected consequences leading to sometimes dangerous situations.”

Auto insurance companies are closely watching the evolution of ADAS technology because ADAS will have a significant impact on their business. “In the near term, with level 2 automation, insurers will need to understand the overall impact to claims, which is a function of the frequency of accidents, and it’s likely that claims will decline with these systems,” Blecher says. “On the other hand, repair costs could rise due to the technology required to support ADAS systems, especially since many ADAS sensors are placed in vulnerable portions of the vehicle, like the bumper and radiator grill.”

The study is expected to be thorough, which means it won’t be quick. It’s projected to last for several years.

, , , , , ,

23 May, 2015

This past week Mitsubishi Electric announced two new FLEXConnect™ In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) systems, one of which – FLEXConnect.ANC – depends upon Mentor Graphics technology.

FLEXConnect.ANC is an Active Noise Control (ANC) system that cancels less predictable and harmonically unrelated road sounds. It uses what Mitsubishi refers to as “cutting edge” XSe®ANC™ technology developed by Mentor Graphics that minimizes engine and road noise to provide a quiet, comfortable environment in the cabin of the vehicle.

Mitsubishi also announced FLEXConnect.IVI, which provides a three-screen user interface that the company describes as both intuitive and cost effective. FLEXConnect refers to a family of systems that extend typical infotainment uses by allowing easy access across multiple devices over Ethernet and Wi-Fi.

Mitsubishi Electric FLEXConnect.IVI. Complete Display

Mitsubishi FLEXConnect.IVI

Last year Mitsubishi launched the FLEXConnect series with FLEXConnect.RSE, (Rear Seat Entertainment), featuring two rear-seat screens that allow the user to stream multiple contents to suit individual preferences while operating as independent units controlled through the Ethernet AVB architecture.

The XSe ANC solution, part of the Mentor Automotive In-Car Experience, is a new approach to in-vehicle ANC where inputs aren’t limited to microphones and engine speed, but also include accelerometers for engine order and road noise cancellation. The underlying algorithm is tunable in real time and the results are available instantaneously via the software telemetry capabilities that are included, thus facilitating dynamic configuration of the system.

The XSe ANC system also uses advanced audio processing techniques and proprietary high-performance algorithms to deliver faster convergence than traditional options, adapting rapidly to varying noises from changing road conditions. The overall performance is delivered based on Mentor’s system design experience without sacrificing processor efficiency and system flexibility.

Besides minimizing engine and road noise, FLEXConnect.ANC with the Mentor Graphics electronic noise cancellation software also allows automakers to reduce cost by removing heavy, noise-dampening materials. It performs multiple functions running on fewer hardware components, resulting in less energy spent on tuning and calibrating compared to standard competing technologies.

“A precisely tuned audio experience, including advanced ANC, will continue to be a growing differentiator for OEMs – an experience not available from consumer devices or the aftermarket,” said Mitsubishi Electric’s Doug Ray, director of Sales, Quality and Engineering, Audio, Video & Communications.

“The FLEXConnect.ANC development accelerates the pace that OEMs can refine that experience. “(It) provides drivers and passengers a quieter environment, enabling them to hear phone calls, music and navigation commands by minimizing outside interference.”

“We deliver high quality, automotive solutions for a refined In-Car Experience, enabling our customers to differentiate their offerings,” added Rainer Oder, general manager of Mentor’s Automotive Business Unit. “The XSe ANC system is an innovative approach to vehicle noise cancellation, and we are pleased that Mitsubishi Electric has chosen our technology for its latest infotainment system. Compared to traditional ANC systems, our solution tackles broadband noise while requiring reduced tuning and calibration effort, overall dramatically shortening our customers’ time to market.”

, , , , , ,

21 May, 2015

The research firm IHS reports that electrification is driving growth in the powertrain semiconductor market – 8.3% growth in 2014 and a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 6% from $7.2 billion in 2014 to $9.5 billion in 2019.

IHS attributes the growth to increasing volumes of new vehicles and the need for fuel efficient vehicle technologies.
One example, for internal combustion engines, is a trend away from traditional multi-port fuel injection systems toward gasoline direct injection systems that are more efficient and require higher semiconductor content. Other factors are start-stop systems, forecast to grow at a 21% CAGR, and plug-in hybrid vehicles, expected to grow at 37% per-year for the next five years.

ihs 5-7-15

“Propulsion systems for electric and hybrid vehicles demand, on average, 10 times more semiconductor content than a conventional engine, says IHS automotive semiconductors analyst Ahad Buksh. “Without electrification, the powertrain semiconductor market would have only grown 3.1 percent annually for the next five years, whereas electrification is now accelerating the market at six percent growth rate annually.”

Powertrain components include the motor inverter, DC/DC converter, battery management system and plug-in charger, all of which require power management by analog integrated circuits (ICs) and discrete components. IHS says these applications saw growth of 24% in 2014 and they are expected to grow by 22% this year more than any automotive semiconductor application.

Semiconductor content in electric and hybrid vehicles are expected to generate more than $1 billion in total revenue growth from 2014 to 2019, by which time IHS forecasts that $1.6 billion will be generated in this segment.

Emissions legislation efforts in regions around the world are the main drivers for semiconductor sales in powertrain applications. The market for semiconductors in internal combustion engines was $4.3 billion in 2014, growing to $5.4 billion in 2019, according to IHS.

The engine control unit (ECU) consumes most of the semiconductor content in applications related to emissions reduction, in addition to which there is a growing trend toward electrification of various components – including fans, water pumps and oil pumps that will further contribute to powertrain semiconductor revenues in the future.

, , , ,

8 May, 2015

Remember Wrightspeed ( When we last tuned in, it had developed a plug-in electric powertrain that can be retrofitted on garbage trucks to allow them to surpass The California Air Resources Board’s (ARB’s) emissions standards by 1,000 percent, plus save fleet owners more than $35,000 in fuel costs and $10,000 in maintenance costs per-truck, per-year.

This week the company announced a new product, an electric vehicle (EV) range extender called Fulcrum, which it described as representing “a breakthrough that challenges today’s piston engines and leaves existing turbine generators wanting.”

Fundamental Disruption
“The automotive industry is in the midst of a fundamental disruption, with electric vehicles merely symbolizing the beginning of the movement,” says company founder, CEO and namesake Ian Wright. “The Fulcrum, together with our range-extended EV architecture, is perfectly suited for achieving maximum efficiency in extremely high-power stop-and-go applications, such as garbage trucks.

“For many of the same reasons that aviation changed from piston engines to turbines decades ago, we believe turbines will begin to replace piston engines in range-extended electric vehicle applications.”

In Wrightspeed’s range-extended architecture, unlike in parallel hybrid architectures, the Fulcrum will not provide direct propulsion to the drive wheels, but be used to recharge the battery system. This means that the Fulcrum is only used when it is needed, and can run at the cleanest and most efficient operating point.

post Fulcrum medium resAt 250 lbs., the Fulcrum is approximately one-tenth the weight of its piston generator counterparts and it is designed to have a 10,000 hour lifetime. While piston generators rely on catalytic converters to reduce their emissions by 10x to meet ARB standards, the Fulcrum turbine generator is clean enough to meet emissions standards without adding to weight or complexity.

Wright says a two-stage compression process and a unique recuperation design make the Fulcrum 30% more efficient than existing turbine generators, while tripling usable power. Its multi-fuel capabilities allow it to burn diesel, CNG, LNG, landfill gases, biodiesel, kerosene, propane, heating oil, and others.

Besides that, according to Wright, the Fulcrum will make for a smooth, comfortable ride for drivers and a quiet, clean experience for neighborhoods because of its ultra-low vibration.

, , , ,

29 April, 2015

A new report from IHS Automotive, Apps in the Car 2015, sheds some light on consumer preferences.

“Among new car intenders, nearly 90 percent of those surveyed currently own a smartphone,” said Colin Bird, IHS Automotive senior analyst, automotive software, apps and services. “Not surprisingly, these devices have wide implications for consumer behavior while driving and influence consumer expectations on how vehicles and apps should integrate with them.”

In the coming years, IHS expects significant growth from vehicle manufacturers integrating apps into their vehicles for consumer connectivity and also anticipates increased partnerships among OEMs and apps integrators.

Forecasts for the three primary systems for 2015 and beyond are:

Android Auto
• 2015 643K
• 2020 31 million
Apple CarPlay
• 2015 861K
• 2020 37 million
• 2015 1.1 million
• 2020 17 million

Nearly 45 percent of respondents (more than 4,000 vehicle owners planning to purchase a new vehicle within 36 months) said they would use in-vehicle apps if they helped enhance the driving experience, with 35 percent reporting they’d be most willing to use them if they were similar to those on their smartphone. Nearly 75 percent of respondents across all four regions surveyed (the U.S., China, Germany and the U.K.) said they would be willing to pay for updates to an app.

Top Five Categories

The top five categories that consumers identified as a favorite for use in their vehicles are navigation (53 percent), weather (40 percent), music (38 percent), news (33 percent) and social networking (29 percent).

According to the survey, there is less interest in apps for points of interest/local, books, health and fitness, business/productivity, education and podcasts. Use rates among respondents for those were less than 15 percent.

The chart below lists respondents’ preferences for infotainment:


Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed indicated a strong desire for continued listening of music via AM/FM radio and CD options in their vehicle, but a similar number prefer listening to music stored on their mobile devices, and Internet/streaming radio, satellite radio options and music stored on an in-vehicle hard drive. Streaming music from a mobile device is a big winner in China.

, , , , , , ,

25 April, 2015

2 Dow Corning EA-7100 Ashesive Photo

It’s so easy to make hasty judgments, like my thinking that Dow Corning’s new materials aren’t really all that relevant to automotive electronics. Of course they are!

During my time at the SAE World Congress, Dow Corning representatives patiently explained why and how materials are relevant, and why Dow Corning engineers are excited about two new breakthrough products worthy of the name.

EA-7100 Silicone Adhesive

Dow Corning’s EA-7100 Adhesive is a silicone chemistry that greatly expands design options for automotive electronics by enabling strong bonds to a wide variety of substrates. It’s a one-part, heat-cure adhesive that cures rapidly and at lower temperatures from the inside out, so it accelerates processing, lowers energy requirements, and reduces material costs.

The EA-7100 Adhesive forms strong bonds to metals, ceramics, glass and laminates, as well as to plastics like polyethylene, polycarbonate and acetal, that have presented challenges for conventional silicone. Depending on the application, the new material can often bond to those substrates without requiring pre-treatment or extensive cleaning.

EA-7100 allows up to 50 percent faster cure time versus conventional heat-cure platinum catalyzed silicone adhesive systems, and it can potentially achieve higher performance. In a typical lid seal design, a standard one-part addition-cure adhesive generally takes 60 minutes to cure at 125°C, while EA-7100 Adhesive can achieve full cure in 15 minutes at 100°C.

So EA-7100 allows the use of smaller, lower temperature ovens that consume less energy and help further lower the total cost of ownership.

Brice Le Gouic, Dow Corning’s global marketing manager for Transportation Electronics, says the new adhesive “offers significantly broader latitudes when designing next-generation control units, sensors, lighting and display modules (for) today’s increasingly demanding automotive under-hood applications.”

Flourosilicone Rubber (FSR) Technology – More Heat Resistant

Dow Corning also said its Silastic® Fluorosilicone Rubber (FSR) technology is now more heat resistant, and thus able to meet the demands of custom automotive applications that require long-lasting, reliable performance at temperatures exceeding 220°C.

“With automotive design trending toward smaller engine compartments, increased exhaust gas recirculation and decreased air flow, the high-end temperatures in under-hood environments are climbing and, more importantly, driving the performance requirements for FSRs to extremes not previously required,” said Craig Gross, Dow Corning senior application engineer for Fluorosilicone Elastomers.

4 Dow Corning FSR PhotoFSRs improve the temperature performance of silicone polymers. FSRs can perform reliably at temperatures reaching 200°C, and so they are used in turbo charger hoses, fuel systems and transmission seals.

Dow Corning’s new FSRs offer increased long-term temperature resistance for extended periods of time, and so they offer greater flexibility for next-generation automotive designs.

, , , , , , , ,