Effective Communication Essential for Self-Driving FutureBy Alejandro Salas | Fri, 03/29/2019 - 05:00
The car of the future is inching closer to reality but there are still several challenges to beat before electric, self-driving vehicles become the new normal. Solid communication between vehicle components and between cars and other objects and people is necessary to ensure these cars are both comfortable and safe, says Nelly Benitez, Sales Manager at Rohde & Schwarz.
“The car of the future will need to communicate with other vehicles, pedestrians’ cellphones, traffic signals and smart-city infrastructure,” says Benitez. With eight decades of experience in testing and measurement solutions for telecommunications, Rohde & Schwarz has evolved to now help automotive companies develop new products for self-driving vehicles and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X) communication. “Our testing solutions can help clients meet new demands for technology and innovation,” she says.
The company offers a variety of radar, V2X communications and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) tests for Tier 1 and Tier 2 companies to ensure their electronic components meet OEM quality standards. Rohde & Schwarz supports clients like Continental or Bosch in various stages of the product development process, from the production of chipsets, PCBs and ECUs to the validation of component prototypes and finished products.
Among its solutions, the company offers measurement systems that calculate how fast self-driving vehicles detect objects through radar and how stable their signal is. Radar plays a crucial role in Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS), particularly in ensuring safe maneuverability when vehicles lose connection with satellites. “Radar sensors are safety-oriented devices that help guide self-driving cars, so we need to understand their frequency’s stability, as well as the speed at which sensors detect objects or people on the road ahead,” says Benitez.
In terms of component-to-component, in-car communication, Rohde & Schwarz offers EMC tests that help automotive suppliers test engine control units to ensure proper functionality of both safety systems, such as airbags and comfort systems like infotainment units. EMC ensures new technology is compatible with the electromagnetic emissions of all other vehicle components, that OEM quality standards are met and that components effectively perform the functions they were designed for. “We can measure how components communicate through automotive ethernet so manufacturers understand how their products will behave on the road,” says Benitez.
The shift toward the car of the future brings several opportunities to test and validate components and vehicles engineered and assembled in Mexico. Benitez expects Rohde & Schwarz’s solutions for V2X communications, EMC tests and radar sensors will gain relevance in the country as more self-driving components are designed and manufactured locally, including production of the new 3 Series units BMW will assemble in San Luis Potosi that will include semi-automated capabilities.
“It will take a while for self-driving vehicles to reach the roads but all the detonators for these technologies are already present in Mexico,” says Benitez. More world-class automotive suppliers are bringing their design and engineering operations to the country and companies are actively developing and launching new technologies, including Continental that in 2018 inaugurated a new R&D center in Queretaro focused on self-driving technology. The country’s young and skilled population is also attractive for automotive companies, according to Benitez, since filling a position in the areas of design and engineering takes one-third the time in Mexico compared to Europe.
At the same time, Benitez says Mexico has become a market where telecom technologies are implemented swiftly. “The country remains at the forefront of telecom technology implementation and is getting ready for the new 5G network along with China and the US,” she says. “Grupo Carso has been an incubator of solutions for the country’s telecommunication challenges. Its recipe for success was replicated in several markets abroad and now that new players such as AT&T are entering the Mexican market, telecom companies compete to be the first to bring the most advanced technology to the country.”