GIR Erster Beitrag: 23. Oktober 2003 Letzter Beitrag: 25. Oktober 2003 I couldn't tell you guyz much about this because of a NDA, but Philips has finally gone gold and here it is. Imagine how much safer roads would be if your car thinks along with you, swinging into action if you get into trouble. So that if you go into a skid, for instance, the car immediately applies perfectly balanced brakes on each wheel to stabilize you, the accelerator reduces speed instantly (even if your foot is on it) and the steering automatically corrects itself. Or when you’re driving at high speed along the motorway, the car automatically senses how close you are to the vehicle in front, and reduces speed to avoid a collision, without interfering with your handling of the steering wheel. Sound too good to be true? While these kinds of scenarios used to be restricted to science-fiction movies and TV series, a ‘smart’ car – or intelligent car – like this is now about to become reality, thanks to work being done on In-Vehicle Networks by the FlexRay consortium – made up of Philips and core partners DaimlerChrysler, BMW, Motorola, General Motors and Bosch and a whole host of associate companies. How does it work? The smart car uses X-by-wire technology that basically eliminates the mechanical and hydraulic systems that enable today’s cars to steer, brake, accelerate and regulate suspension control. Instead, it replaces them with sophisticated and reliable electronic systems. In the smart car, electronic signals communicate the driver’s intent to turn, accelerate, brake, stop, etc. It’s similar to developments in aircraft engineering last century, which enabled planes to abandon the heavy mechanical parts that controlled the aircraft’s ability to manoeuvre and were hard work on hard pilots and replace them with the sophisticated electronic fly-by-wire controls that practically enable planes safely to fly themselves. And, just as with modern aircraft, future In-Vehicle Networks will be fitted with a series of fail-safes to ensure that you’re never without control over the smart car, even if one of the systems fails. X-by-wire is being developed as a fault-tolerant technology - meaning it will have a foolproof back-up component that takes over if a primary system shuts down. The possibilities for such technology are endless. X-by-wire can be used in a number of basic systems, including braking, climate control, oil pumps, steering and balance systems. It will boost a car’s performance, increase safety, improve vehicle responsiveness and reduce emissions, making tomorrow’s cars even more efficient and more environmentally friendly. Setting the standard The FlexRay consortium is working on developing a definitive in-car control system, which it hopes will become the future X-by-wire standard. In addition, FlexRay is also working on bringing a complete X-by-wire car onto the market as soon as possible. What exactly is Philips’ role? To put it as simply as possible, Philips Semiconductors is developing silicon solutions for this evolving standard, using its technological know-how to manage and control the increasing numbers of sensors, actuators and electronic systems integrated into the next generation car. Waiting game If you’re keen to see for yourself just how intelligent the smart car is, you’ve got a while to wait. According to current estimates, the first smart controls will begin appearing in production vehicles in 2006 at the earliest, while most of us won’t be able to try it out for another two years after that. But surely it’s worth the wait for a more energy-efficient, smoother and safer ride?