Car crashes kill over 13 000 Europeans every year. Although this number is far too high, it is decreasing – down from 21 000 in 2007. One of the key factors behind this decrease is the uptake of electronic stability control (ESC), a technology that improves a vehicle’s stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction, or skidding. Skidding is a leading cause of car crashes, and recent studies show that ESC can reduce fatalities by 43 %. However, with ESC technology being capable of detecting 80 % of skidding events, there’s room for improvement. According to researchers with the EU-funded SKIDLESS project, with the right technological upgrades, these systems can become even more efficient at preventing skid-related deaths. “It is well known within the automotive industry that, with the right skidding sensor, ESC systems can become significantly more efficient,” says Mario Milanese, CEO at Modelway and SKIDLESS project coordinator. “Unfortunately, the cost and complexity of these physical sensors make them impractical for automotive manufacturers.” To fill this gap, the SKIDLESS project is developing a cost-effective virtual sensor designed specifically for ESC systems.
Overcoming the limits of existing technologies
Using Modelway’s patented direct virtual sensing (DVS) technology, researchers are working to substantially improve the effectiveness of ESC systems by providing a virtual sensor of sideslip angle. The sideslip angle is the angle between the desired car direction and the direction it is actually travelling. The DVS technology is used to efficiently estimate this angle using measurements available in all cars. According to Milanese, such a virtual sensor opens the door to the development of a new generation of sideslip-based ESC systems that can detect and react to a car skidding 40 % faster than current systems: “The faster reaction time could result in between 10 and 20 % fewer fatalities. Even just a 10 % reduction represents over 5 000 lives saved in Europe and the United States (US) and more than 80 000 worldwide.” Having a reliable sideslip angle virtual sensor is also essential to improving the performance of other safety-relevant advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). For example, using the sideslip angle sensor generated by the SKIDLESS project, a vehicle’s lane keeping assistant (LKA) and emergency lane keeping (ELK) features can automatically implement corrective steering action whenever it determines the vehicle is getting too close to the road’s edge.
Commercialisation in a rapidly growing market
Modelway is currently focused on finalising the technology and preparing for marketisation. Its aim is to have the SKIDLESS sensor available on 17 car models in the EU and US by 2025, requiring a production capacity of 2.7 million units. The global virtual sensing market is estimated to exceed EUR 2 billion by 2026, growing by 29.8 % (compound annual growth) between 2018 and 2026. Thanks to the support of this project, Modelway is now positioned as one of the top 15 suppliers of virtual sensor technologies. “Our DVS technology proved to outperform existing virtual sensing techniques, in terms of both accuracy and development,” adds Milanese. “With the addition to our portfolio of other virtual sensors that improve safety and reduce emissions, we expect to see our market position continue to grow stronger.”
SKIDLESS, Modelway, car accident, virtual sensor, skidding, car crashes, electronic stability control, ESC, automotive industry, direct virtual sensing, DVS, sideslip angle, advanced driver assistant systems, ADAS