In a few years the car has gone from being a simple tool to get from point A to point B, with more or less sophistication or speed, to a sort of "smartphone" with wheels full of cameras, sensors and technological advances. A trend that will accelerate in the immediate future as a step prior to the arrival of fully automated driving, explains Dirk Hoheisel, member of the board of directors of the manufacturer of components and technological solutions Bosch.
"Today the cars carry more than 400 dollars – some 360 euros – in electronic content and semiconductors. In two or three years will grow another 500, "says Hoheisel, one of the responsible for the automotive branch of the German group, specializing in electronics and semiconductors. In regions like Europe, it expands, the increase will be even greater, and it will be around, on average, 1,000 dollars.
With so much technology on board, is the continental industry in a good position in the global auto racing career? "I will not say we're losing it, but all the big companies in the developed regions are working on it. Who will win it? We are in a good position, but much remains to be done ».
Europe also faces some very particular challenges. «There are situations that are more complex here. The traffic in Arizona -epicenter of the tests of the self-driven models of Uber and Google-, for example, is very different from that of Madrid or Stuttgart. " Although the outstanding technical issues "will be resolved at the international level", Hoheisel highlights another, lesser-known challenge: the high level of requirement necessary to validate each assistance system. "Only the autonomous emergency braking, which applies the brakes if there is a risk of collision, which is relatively simple, has involved thousands of hours of testing. It will be like traveling the distance between Earth and Pluto, and returning. We have to find different ways, and we are working on it. "
A big step forward will be the obligation to install Intelligent Speed Assistants (ISA) in new vehicles marketed in Europe from 2022, in addition to another ten systems such as the aforementioned autonomous braking. "The technology already exists, but still does not have a significant penetration", explains the expert, who recalls that the average age of the mobile fleet varies, depending on the country, between nine and twelve years.
An ambitious technological development that the automotive industry and the components industry should also carry out while facing the pressure to quickly reduce their emissions. The challenge of complying with the demanding objectives imposed by the European Union after 2021 will invariably force us to pay "a lot of money" if we do not want to pay heavy fines. "According to our calculations, in 2030 still 75% of new cars will have a combustion engine. We will have to develop propulsion systems without direct emissions – electric or hydrogen fuel – and at the same time continue to improve conventional engines. "
All this in the midst of the distortions that political messages can cause. This is the case of the choice between 5G and WiFi for vehicle connectivity: The EU is oriented in favor of the second, while the mobile operators association GSMA defends the first. "We must be open to both technologies, which can solve the problem, but we expect politicians to be neutral." An axiom also applicable to propulsion systems? "We have shown – last year Bosch introduced a technology that manages to reduce the emissions of a diesel engine to a tenth of the limit – that it is possible to continue reducing emissions; but it is the cities that must decide if they want to discuss limits or change transportation habits. "
The (tiny) market of the future
They can be measured in microns (one hair is 70), or in nanometers; although in automotive the most usual size is expressed in millimeters. The semiconductor market exceeds 400,000 million per year, and its importance in cars multiplies: they control from the airbag to the recharge power in an electric car. "We are the only company that integrates the entire process, and we produce everything from semiconductors to systems," says Hoheisel. Recently Bosch executed the largest individual investment in its history, 1,000 million, in a factory in Dresden in the face of growing demand. (tagsToTranslate) interview (t) bosch (t) hoheisel (t) microchips