TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. has announced its next generation Airbag Control Unit designed for maximum flexibility to allow the integration of a range of pre-crash occupant safety functions as well as inertial sensors for stability control. The Company has confirmed that the technology will start production with two major vehicle manufacturers in 2012.
Martin Thoone, vice president engineering, Electronics said: “TRW remains a global leader in airbag control units and is currently the number one supplier for North American built vehicles. We have shipped in excess of 150 million units to our global customer base.
“We are proud to announce these two significant wins with a major European and Asian vehicle manufacturer – one of which will apply the technology in more than 10 different car lines anticipated to cover a volume of approximately seven million vehicles over the full span of the agreement. These major contracts further highlight our strength and capabilities in this area.”
Traditionally Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems have been introduced with stand- alone inertial sensor clusters (IMU). To enhance value, TRW’s Airbag Control Unit presents a viable way to reduce the number of modules in the vehicle while retaining the performance of the ESC. In addition, the performance of the side impact and rollover sensing functions is enhanced through the use of the inertial sensor data.
Thoone added: “Sensor integration is a core part of TRW’s strategy and we are continually working to develop smarter products which will help to reduce complexity, installation effort, weight, packaging, and ultimately the costs for our customers. With the broadest portfolio of active and passive safety products in the industry, TRW is well placed to maximize integration opportunities.”
Integrating inertial sensors into the airbag control unit offers several advantages. Firstly, it places the sensors close to the vehicle’s center of gravity – a prime location for both vehicle impact sensors and inertial sensors. Secondly, combining inertial sensors and crash sensors into one module allows alternate methods for diagnostics coverage; allows inertial sensors to be used to enhance both side impact and rollover detection; and allows the potential to integrate individual sensors into multiple sensor integrated circuits. And finally, many components required for a stand alone inertial sensor module can be eliminated without affecting the design or performance of the ESC controller – offering significant savings for vehicle manufacturers.
The Airbag Control Unit can also incorporate the control functions of TRW’s Active Control Retractor within the unit and thus control a number of pre-crash occupant safety functions in one modular unit – offering flexibility and integration of key safety functions. Additional features like pedestrian protection sensing and actuation, rollover detection and actuation of a suspension stabilizer bar and passenger occupation detection are supported with the Airbag Control Unit.
Thoone concluded: “With legislation to make ESC compulsory and the rapid growth of electronics in the automotive industry, there is a huge opportunity for continued electrical integration. With a respected technology portfolio, we are confident that TRW can offer customers the experience and intelligence needed to produce the electronic systems of today and tomorrow.”