Visteon’s Future Interior Vision
The e-Bee is Visteon’s (visteon.com) interior concept of a floating info-cloud that wirelessly charges just about any device with a battery, personalizes infotainment and vehicle data by global region, driver preferences and his/her preferred collection of apps, and even dispatches with the Luddite rearview mirror in favor of a screen that pumps in the surroundings via a 180° panoramic camera.
But even with the hive of touch screens (including one on either side of the steering wheel) and gesture-recognizing infotainment systems that make up e-Bee’s vision of a 2020 interior, the real sting might be how Visteon has reconsidered the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system.
The climate system combines the HVAC unit with the refrigerant system and a heat pump, essentially morphing the hardware into one. This single system, including the blower, has been moved outside of the cabin to what would (in the case of a gas engine) be the lower portion of the engine compartment, below the grille. An electric compressor takes over those functions, operating independently from the drive mode for heating and AC. Theoretically, this would allow an electric vehicle to heat or cool itself while parked or charging.
The e-Bee is demonstrated on the all-electric Nissan LEAF, and although the integrated HVAC module is officially listed as an advanced study that is not production ready, Visteon says the approach will reduce weight and free up even more cockpit real estate, presumably for … more electronics.
Visteon's e-Bee concept uses a Nissan Leaf as its canvas. It aims for maximum efficiency inside and out.
The e-Bee’s interior gains more space panel screens and other electronics by removing the HVAC system from the cabin.
A New Sense for Steering
Moore’s Law may legislate electronics, but the 100-year-old plus Hall Effect technology is what inspired TT electronics (ttelectronics.com) when designing its new steering sensor.
The non-contact powering steering sensor borrows from the Hall Effect, a sensing technology in which output connections are aligned perpendicular to the direction of current flows. Although the Hall Effect sensors are magnetic at their core, they can be used in a variety of applications, from temperature to pressure to electrical current regulation. TT electronics uses it to make electronic power steering systems more compact and efficient.
The SX-4428 Magnetorque II has a free-floating torque rotor within the device, limiting friction and extending its life, the company says. The design allows engineers to program output levels and reduce the use of tight tolerances in the steering shaft, which means less machining and therefore less cost. TT electronics also has reduced the amount of plastic in the unit by 42%. Supply current is less than 21mA and the sensor is operational from -40°C to +85°C.
On Semiconductor Increases Integration
On Semiconductor (onsemi.com) has released two new integrated circuits and two new system basis chips, with assignments such as auto body and engine control, interior lighting and DC motor management for HVAC systems.
The NCV7718 is a hex half-bridge driver, which is compatible with 8-bit devices. It can be operated in forward, reverse, brake, and high-impedance states. The new device also incorporates a range of built-in protection features, as well as both high-side and low-side drivers. It also includes 16-bit serial peripheral interface (SPI) and a low-power sleep mode.
An eight-channel low-side driver of up to 600 milliamps (mA) drive capability per channel, the NCV7240 provides power distribution to relays, LEDs and unipolar stepper motors. An SPI port is available for output control and car battery demand is lessened with features like a “limp-home” mode and low quiescent current in both sleep and standby modes.
The NCV7471 system basis chip includes dual LIN, high-speed CAN and a 500 mA boost-buck DC-DC controller that provides and monitors low-voltage power suppliers. The CAN and LIN transceivers allow the electronic control unit to host multiple communication nodes. It also can serve as a gateway unit while an on-chip state controller supports low-power modes.
Finally, the NCV7430 SBC is a LIN-based single-chip, RGB (red, green blue) driver with a specialized task of managing multicolor LED applications in interior ambient lighting. Typically assembled on a board alongside an RGB LED chip, the NCV7430 includes three independent LED current regulators and a LIN interface for parametric programming, i.e. managing LED color hues and intensity.
Toshiba’s Sharper View
Toshiba America Electronic Components (toshiba.com/taec) unveiled its first automotively-inclined image sensor, which the company says will improve the view for a variety of telematic systems above what’s currently offered by other suppliers.
With the 0.25-in. optical format VGA CMOS image sensor, the TCM5114PL, Toshiba is claiming the mantle of “industry’s best dynamic range” sensor. It is capable of 100dB at 60 frames per second at full resolution. The combination of a 5.6 microamperes pixel, 640 (H) x 480 (V) array, ISP and high dynamic range functions, enables the TCM5114PL to capture images in low-light conditions. A primary Bayer color filter also helps enhance color reproduction. (Somewhat unsurprisingly, given Toshiba’s claims of its high-resolution capabilities, the sensor is also aimed at the security and surveillance markets.)
“The low-power consumption, and rich imagery enabled by this device in various light conditions will appeal to manufacturers in the automotive industry where most new car models feature on-board cameras and telematics systems that need to support crisp, clear dashboard display screens, as well as rear-view and surround-view camera systems, etc.,” said Andrew Burt, vice president of the Analog and Imaging Business Unit, System LSI Group at TAEC.
Other features include a single 3.3-V source power supply, lens shading correction, picture flip (both horizontal and vertical), auto white balance, auto luminance (exposure) control, auto flicker detection and correction, a defect pixel corrector, a programmable gamma correction standby mode, and a power-down mode.
Toshiba’s new camera sensor is said to provide the best dynamic range in its class.