Advances from Valeo

Nowadays, leading suppliers must do a whole lot more than, well, supply. They must develop compelling technology that OEMs want to buy, and then they can supply it. Which brings us to Valeo Group (valeo.com), a France-based supplier that was established in 1923 and now has 124 production sites, 16 research centers, 35 development centers and some 74,800 people located in 29 different countries. Here’s a look of some of its recent developments, some ready for deployment and others, well . . .

ECONOMICAL HYBRID TECH. Let’s face it: hybrid vehicles are more expensive than non-hybrids for the simple reason that there are essentially two major systems involved: the internal combustion engine and the electric motor (and the associated batteries, power electronics, etc.). So Valeo has worked on a new system that it maintains will provide a 15% fuel savings at half the cost of current hybrid systems, thereby making it more affordable, even for entry-level cars. They cleverly call it “Hybrid4All.” 

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System deploys an array of sensors to find a place to park and then returns to the driver, all controlled by a smartphone app.

 

 

It is based on a low-voltage, 48-volt, integrated inverter belt-starter generator (i-BSG), which operates as an assist to the internal combustion engine. The i-BSG can be located on the accessory drive (its motor generator eliminates the need for an alternator, and it is approximately the size of an alternator, so there’s room), behind the transmission, or between the engine and the transmission.

The system uses Valeo’s start-stop system (iStARS), regenerative braking, torque-assist, and a high-efficiency DC-DC converter.

The i-BSG is said to provide as much as 15 kW of peak power.


LEDS AND BEYOND. Valeo has developed its BeamAtic PremiumLED system for headlamps. This system allows the high-beams to be operating when driving at night all the time, as there is an on-board camera and associated processing software that determines whether there is an on-coming vehicle or one just ahead and then consequently adjusts the beam pattern so that the other driver is not caught in the glare but the roam remains illuminated.

While that technology is still comparatively new, they’ve continued development and come up with a system that uses a laser diode in place of conventional LEDs for high-beam applications. With ordinary systems, there is a compromise such that the beam is the same at high speeds and low. This system has a beam pattern that is adapted based on speed so that there is a brighter spot, illuminating a further distance, which is important when traveling fast.


BEYOND “SELF” PARKING. There are a number of systems that assist a driver when it comes to parallel parking. But Valeo has developed a system that helps park, period. A vehicle. By itself. No driver is involved with the steering and pedal work. In fact, the driver isn’t in the vehicle.

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Camera system provides a six-foot aerial view. Pedestrian classification capability in the software provides an alert should a person come within the parking zone.

 

The driver leaves a vehicle at the entrance to a parking facility and activates the system. The vehicle deploys 12 ultrasonic sensors, four cameras, and a laser scanner, and sets off to find a place to park. 

Autonomously.

As the driver may be interested in what’s going on, an on-board camera sends images to the driver’s smartphone. The smart phone is also used to get the vehicle back from the parking space.

So now the driver has the vehicle back. And sets out on a drive. To facilitate that, they’ve developed eye-tracking control, a human-machine interface that literally allows the driver to control functions on the dashboard, instrument cluster, or heads-up display via a glance. There is a system that calibrates the driver’s eye position. Then, by looking at specific areas on the various vehicle displays, things like radio channels can be changed with literally a look (I had the opportunity to try it and while it was a static display, it worked—and it was so good it was eerie.) 


DIGITAL WIPERS. The linkages in typical windshield wiper systems are the sorts of things that one might find in a textbook on mechanics. While they are clever and effective, they are comparatively complex. Comparatively compared with the Dual Direct Drive Motor system. In this case, there are two individual motors, one per arm, not a single motor driving both arms. 

Thus, the linkages are eliminated. They are electronically synchronized so as to provide the appropriate swiping motions. And the big benefit is in the weight save: the company estimatesthat compared with a conventional system, the savings is on the order of 30%, or 3.7 lb.

 

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This electric motor drives a single windshield wiper blade. A pair provides the means to cover the whole windshield. It provides a significant weight-save compared with conventional linkage-based wiper systems.


COOLER TURBO CHARGE.

Downsized, turbocharged engines mean heated air. Consequently, there is a cooled charge air cooler used, which is ordinarily an air-to-air cooler. Valeo has developed a compact, brazed aluminum heat exchanger that is located in the engine’s intake manifold (which means that it is compact) that is an air-to-water heat exchanger. The intake air is cooled by a cold water flow. The benefit of this approach is that it is more effective for cooling, as water has four times the heat transfer capacity as air. 

In addition to which, because of its location in the intake manifold, there is reduced volume between the turbocharger outlet and the intake valves, so that turbo response time during acceleration is reduced, with maximum turbocharging pressure achieved in approximately 14% less time (~250 milliseconds at 1,500 rpm).

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Air-to-water heat exchanger for turbocharged engines is more efficient than air-to-air.