Looking Ahead

The ITC World Congress in Japan offers a glimpse of the future vision in automotive electronics.

Nagoya — The 11th ITS World Congress ran for six days in late October, bringing together some 6,000 policymakers and industry officials in hopes of forming a consensus on future safety, comfort and sustainability issues. The theme of this year’s show: “ITS for a Livable Society.”

Altogether, more than 500 technical and scientific papers were presented and 250 exhibits were displayed as corporations, government agencies and research institutes from more than 50 countries showed off their future products and technologies.

In the main exhibition hall, 200 companies, including all leading Japanese vehicle and component makers, displayed their latest systems and technologies. Included: Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., Aisin Seiki Co., Denso Corp., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. Prominently displayed:

Xanavi Informatics Corp. demonstrated a ‘Bluetooth’ cell phone that works in conjunction with a GPS navigation system (shown). It is scheduled for introduction next year in the U.S. market by General Motors Corp.
• A future automatic transmission control system by Aisin AW Co. that uses navigation data to optimize the number of gear changes particularly on winding roads; by using the system, Aisin AW, a subsidiary of Aisin Seiki, estimates that the number of gear shifts will be reduced by 50 percent compared to standard automatic transmissions.

• A voice-operated electronic toll collection unit by Denso which lists for Y17,000 ($162). • Millimeter-wave radar, lidar and vision sensors, all produced by Denso, which find use in the pre-crash, low-speed adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist systems on the Toyota Crown Majesta, the automaker’s premier model in its “Toyota” channel.

• A 76-Ghz millimeter-wave-radar system by Fujitsu Ten Limited that can detect vehicle-to-vehicle distances even in fog, rain or snow; the system, which employs “frequency modulated continuous wave” technology and incorporates a “monolithic microwave” IC, not only can detect distance between vehicles but also relative speed and direction of other vehicles.

• A future in-vehicle information terminal (called “AutoPC CADIAS”) by Clarion Co. that connects to a cell phone and enables webbrowsing, e-mail and high-speed downloading of navigation maps.

• A next-generation in-vehicle camera, also by Clarion, that provides images of blind spots both to the front and rear of the vehicle; the lightweight unit comes with an optional “birds-eye-view” monitor to faciliate parking.

• An infrared projector for a night vision system by Koito Manufacturing Co. that can spot a person or object 150 meters in front.

• Mercury-free HID headlamps, also by Koito, to improve safety and environmental performance.

• An entry management system by Matsushita that enables authorized vehicles to enter and exit parking lots without stopping; the system, which incorporates ETC technology, keeps a running log, with times and dates, of all parking lot activities.

• A prototype backup camera by Matsushita that expands operation range from 120 degrees to 180 degrees; the unit, to be installed in the side mirror, is scheduled to go on sale by 2008 at the latest.

• A vision sensing system using 3-D measuring technology by Omron Corp. that determines traffic volume. Omron, a leading Japanese maker of sensors, also presented a laser range finder which determines if a vehicle is approaching or coming into the path; measurement accuracy is +/-10 cm.

• A full cockpit module by Sumitomo Electric. Still in the prototype stage, the unit features a long horizontal display that runs across the length of the dash panel with rearview monitors on left and right sides showing vehicles behind and a third monitor in the center of the cockpit where the navigation system is located. Sumitomo Electric subsidiary Sumitomo Wiring Systems Ltd. displayed instrument panel switches it currently supplies to Toyota for the Alphard, Avensis, Harrier (and its North American derivative, the RX330), Sienna and Verso and to Honda for the Acura TL, Fit and Step Wagon, and to Ford Australia for the Falcon. In total, the company supplies around 10 models.

•A series of wheel-speed sensors including both magnetic-generating and semiconductor types by Sumitomo Electric and a tire-deflation warning system that detects 20 percent deflation levels under normal driving conditions; the system measures tire rolling radius to determine deflation levels.

• A “Bluetooth” cell phone by Xanavi Informatics Corp. that works in conjunction with a GPS navigation system and is scheduled for introduction next year in the U.S. market by General Motors Corp.

• The DVD navigation system on the new Nissan Fuga, also by Xanavi, which incorporates Bluetooth hands-free call functionality and Nissan’s most advanced 24-hour “CarWings” telematics service. Xanavi, a subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd., also supplies DVD systems to Nissan for the Skyline, Bluebird Sylphy and XTrail. In addition, the company displayed a prototype iVDR navigation system that features a removable hard disk drive. Xanavi joined an iVDR consortium in September. Other participants include Fujitsu, Canon Inc., Pioneer Corp., Sanyo Electric Co. and Sharp Corp.

• An organic LED display by Yazaki Corp. which features high-resolution, multicolor indicators and a horizon display; positioned lower than a conventional heads-up display, the unit utilizes a low-transparency optical combiner to achieve visual contrast.

Meanwhile, Toyota Motor displayed an ITS Concept car that features the automaker’s proprietary G-Book technology along with an array of other systems including electronic toll collection, night view, radar cruise control with low-speed tracking mode, lanekeeping assist, VDIM (or vehicle dynamics integrated management), side monitor and pre-crash safety.

Toyota’s truck-making subsidiary Hino Motors displayed a driver condition monitor that employs an infrared camera and projector to detect driver awareness; specifically, if the driver has fallen asleep at the wheel. Hino’s ASV show model, which is based on a Profia tractor, comes equipped with lane-departure warning, tire pressure monitoring, nighttime pedestrian monitoring and rear-view recording systems. Researchers claim that the vehicle’s vehicle stability control system helps prevent overturning and jackknifing.

This article was provided exclusively to Automotive Industries by J•REPORTS, a new information service offering in-depth coverage of automotive technology based in Tokyo. For additional information about this and other studies and prices, contact JRepts@aol.com.

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