See Around Corners With Dynamic EHorizon

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole
see around corners with dynamic ehorizon

For millennia man has tried to see into the future.

People have practiced all kinds of divination techniques from augury and scyring to reading tea leaves like a Sunday paper. Naturally the predictive capabilities of these ancient methods are questionable at best, but that hasn’t deterred engineers at supplier-company Continental from attempting the same feat. Turning to cutting-edge technology they’ve developed a way for drivers to know what’s around the next bend.

see around corners with dynamic ehorizon
The company’s “Dynamic Electronic Horizon” system taps into the power of the cloud to deliver tangible benefits, in theory at least. It’s a demonstration of how big data can work to make driving a lot better.

When implemented, this technology is designed to provide motorists with real-time information about the road ahead. If there are icy conditions it can warn them to slow down; if there’s a crash the system can reroute them to save time; it can even calculate how to drive most efficiently given the topography of the road.

Believe it or not it’s granular enough to tell you which lane or lanes are closed ahead if, for instance, there’s road construction or an accident. This allows you to act accordingly and well in advance. Overall, Dynamic eHorizon is designed to increase safety, comfort and efficiency.

Big Data Analytics

How does this seemingly too-good-to-be-true technology work? Well, it’s fairly simple in an incredibly complicated way.

In straightforward terms vehicles send data to the cloud. This information is crunched by servers and based on your location relevant zeros and ones are sent back. This data is specifically relevant to where you’re driving, alerting you to crashes, road closures or other problems in your immediate vicinity.

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To make all of this happen Conti has partnered with Here maps and IBM, two big names in the technology world. All of the processing that makes this predictive stuff possible is done by Big Blue’s computers in Dallas, Texas.

Vehicles communicate with servers via something known as MQTT protocol, which Conti developed with IBM. Supposedly this technology is an especially efficient way of transmitting data, way better than using a typical cellular connection.

Dynamic eHorizon monitors a wide range of parameters from the weather and wheel slip to temperature, location, heading and speed. It even knows if you’re using the windshield wipers and if the airbags have been deployed. Data is key to making this system work and the more information that gets input the better.

Big Benefits

see around corners with dynamic ehorizon
And the benefits of this arrangement cannot be ignored. Just think, if real-time data could be incorporated into your car’s adaptive cruise-control system. You could net tremendous fuel-economy improvements by not charging at traffic lights that were about to turn red, or if you could sidestep highway congestion. Dynamic eHorizon goes far beyond simple car-to-car or car-to-infrastructure communication.

With additional data automated driving becomes much simpler to implement, vehicle hybrid systems can be adjusted to optimize regenerative braking and drivers of electric vehicles can plan the best route to avoid running out of power.

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Drivers can be notified of what’s ahead in a variety of different ways. The display Continental showed us included a large map projected on a computer monitor. A 21-inch screen is a little impractical for vehicular applications, though a navigation system would be perfect. They also had a separate display within an instrument cluster and even an accelerator pedal that gently pushed back against the driver’s foot.

Dynamic eHorizon has been used in fleets of Scania trucks since 2012. To date it’s estimated that this software has saved some 16 million gallons of diesel fuel, along with lots of money and literally tons of carbon-dioxide emissions.

Waze and Means

see around corners with dynamic ehorizon
You may have heard of a smartphone application called Waze. It’s a community-based navigation program that offers some of the benefits Conti’s eHorizon system provides, including traffic warnings though it also supports user-edited maps and even police alerts.

Tejas Desai, Continental’s head of interior electronics solutions for North America said Waze is great and that he loves it. “But I really shouldn’t be using it while driving” because it encourages distracted driving.

Desai said one advantage of Dynamic eHorizon is that it’s “integrated and automotive grade.” It can be built right into vehicles and it’s made to go the distance. “It’s been thought through and it’s something that can last,” unlike Waze that could go away at any time he said.

Regarding the development of this technology Desai said “We’ve been working on [it] for a couple of years” and they’re nearing the finish line. “I would expect to see it [launch] in about three years,” though it probably needs a critical mass of users before it becomes a truly effective technology.

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