Still driving or already relaxing?

Thanks to digital assistant systems, car drivers can just lean back and relax in more and more driving situations. Developers worldwide are currently even working on making the steering wheel obsolete altogether and turning the interior of the vehicle almost into a second living room. It may sound like science fiction, but at thyssenkrupp in Budapest, this is becoming science fact.

Ok, we admit: taking the family on vacation will remain a test of nerves. A father challenging his son to a relaxing game of cards during the journey? Impossible! But driving has already become decidedly easier, at least as far as physical effort goes: Modern vehicles can overtake crawling caravans effortlessly with a gentle steering movement. Even new drivers can park precisely with just one finger on the wheel. But why is the steering wheel more reactive on the parking lot than on the highway? Simple: it’s thanks to intelligent steering systems – developed by thyssenkrupp in Budapest.

From one-room project to expert department

thyssenkrupp has been honing steering systems in its Hungarian development center for 18 years now. With their numerous sensors, computers and tiny control motors, these steering systems keep vehicles under constant control. Dr. László Naszádos has been there from the start. Back then, the current head of the department was one of 15 pioneers, working on software and hardware concepts for assisted driving. Today, around 350 people work at his facility. “Most of us are a mixture of researcher and car fanatic,” explains Naszádos. “When we started in 1999, we didn’t just have to invent new products but the whole development process. Back then, we all worked in one room. Now there are so many of us that we’re spread over several stories.” Around 600 thyssenkrupp developers around the world are currently working on making the driving experience increasingly enjoyable.

IAA

The development center has developed a complex mechatronic system that includes both software and hardware. It means manufacturers can give their cars precisely the steering feel they want. © Gergely Szatmári

Lászlo Naszádos © Gergely Szatmári

Lászlo Naszádos © Gergely Szatmári

Computer power with finesse

The team has long since abandoned hydraulic power steering in order to develop complex mechatronics systems. The modern steering systems work with an electric motor connected to a computer. This computer returns information to the motor about how and when it must assist steering wheel movements. This allows automobile manufacturers to create exactly the steering wheel control that they want. Another important factor is road safety: 50 percent of the computer’s processing power is reserved for various diagnostics, just to ensure that the steering wheel functions flawlessly at all times. “It also creates a unique steering experience and forms the foundation for other components of the steering system,” adds the expert. The pioneering software solutions developed by the software experts in Budapest are already in the new models of premium manufacturers, such as Mercedes and BMW.

The living room of the future

Assisted lane change, automatic parking, all nice and convenient. But aside from intelligent steering systems, thyssenkrupp is also working on the greatest challenge in the automotive world – autonomous driving. The experts are particularly preoccupied with figuring out how they can safely bring the information from cameras and radars, which already often replace the driver’s senses, onto the roads. Software engineers already have test vehicles that can basically drive autonomously under real conditions on test circuits. The hope is that one day, drivers and passengers will relax rather than steer, check emails instead of roads, listen to music rather than traffic noise, and see their favorite shows instead of staring at the bumper of the car in front. Thanks to the development work in Budapest, the mobile living room is no longer an unachievable utopia. This may also make driving the family on vacation considerably more pleasant in future, too.

 

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thyssenkrupp will be writing about the issues the company is addressing for the future of the car on the engineered blog during the weeks leading up to the IAA. After all, the company has consistently boasted pioneering automotive solutions throughout its history stretching back over 100 years. At the IAA 2017, thyssenkrupp will give particular attention to innovative topics such as intelligent chassis, electromobility, autonomous driving and cutting-edge assembly and production processes. In the coming weeks, thyssenkrupp will be introducing the people behind these pioneering products and materials, demonstrating its successful cooperation with bigger and smaller customers, and offering exclusive insights into the future of the company. https://www.thyssenkrupp.com/automotive