Paving the way for autonomous trucks: Continental presents modular multi-sensor solution

Sensor system simplifies the integration of functions for automated driving

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Continental is presenting an innovative sensor solution for commercial vehicles at CES 2023 on January 5-8 in Las Vegas. The commercial vehicle business is more complex than ever due to growing transport volumes, equipment rates of trucks with new assistance systems, and increasingly complex fleet management. The Continental Sensor Array provides an answer to the growing number of intelligent and automated driving systems in commercial vehicles. The multi-sensor system can be mounted above modern vehicle windshields to provide a compact, integrated solution to manage the new complex environments of commercial vehicles.

Additionally, higher levels of automation, such as L4, require a larger number of different sensors that can be installed intelligently, quickly, and safely. In Continental’s comprehensive Sensor Array solution, all integrated sensors – lidar, radar, cameras – are pre-calibrated and coordinated. This supports adaptive cruise control, emergency braking, blind spot assist, and automated driving functions. The coordination significantly simplifies the installation of many sensors, their integration into the vehicle architecture, and the complex calibration process. In addition, the effort for maintenance and the downtimes of vehicles is reduced. Continental is thus helping to make commercial vehicles and logistics companies fit for the mobility of tomorrow.

Compact, modular multi-sensor solution for safe driving with commercial vehicles

The market for automated driving is growing substantially and commercial vehicles play a vital role in this. Especially on long distances between logistics centers – from “hub to hub” – innovative assistance systems are already contributing to significantly increased safety. The solutions will continue to revolutionize the transport business, leading to autonomous trucks on the motorways. Sensors, software, and intelligent connectivity concepts are the basis for this. As a leading system expert in radar, lidar and camera solutions for assisted and automated driving, Continental sees the intelligent combination of these different technologies as a decisive added value for safety, comfort, and functional availability on the road to achieve Vision Zero.

“The Continental Sensor Array offers a tailor-made system solution approach for commercial vehicles,” said Vinh Tran, head of the Autonomous Mobility Business Area, Continental North America. “The potential for automated and autonomous driving in the commercial vehicle sector will change the industry, especially when managing a high number of downtimes. Highly complex sensor systems are required to take advantage of that potential. By offering easy assembly and calibration of multiple sensor systems in a single, compact module, our solution will help prepare companies for the future of commercial mobility.”

Development, calibration, sensor care, updates: a one-stop service

With the new multi-sensor system, Continental provides all safety-relevant sensor technology from a single source: sensors, central computing units for control, calibration of the individual sensors among each other, and the overall solution when mounted on the vehicle.

“A multi-sensor system in a compact solution offers vehicle manufacturers and users many advantages,” added Tran. “Radar, lidar, and cameras are pre-calibrated and matched to each other. This significantly reduces efforts around sensor assembly, sensor calibration, and vehicle maintenance. And if, for example, trucks drive autonomously and are on the road around the clock, our Sensor Array can be easily replaced for maintenance work. That means no more costly downtimes.”

In addition, the electronic architecture and wiring harnesses in commercial vehicles are significantly streamlined – and later updates can be implemented quickly. Sensors for new assistance systems can be easily integrated into the compact solution. The overall sensor system does not require any fundamental modifications to the driver’s cab or vehicle body for future generations of trucks. It can also be mounted on existing generations of modern trucks, provided that the onboard electrical system is prepared for this.

Cleaning and air conditioning of the sensor units are also simplified with Continental’s automatic “Camera and Sensor Cleaning, Cooling and Heating” system. All sensors independently monitor the degree of their pollution. Camera lenses are automatically cleaned by a water jet. In addition, intelligent thermal management ensures the flawless use of sensor technology in all weather conditions.

Camera, lidar, radar – multi-sensor system for safe mobility

The combination of different sensor systems and their redundancy is crucial for the reliable use of driver assistance systems and autonomous driving. All sensors must be calibrated individually and coordinated with each other in combination. Continental sees the joint use of the three sensor systems – camera, lidar, and radar – as the ideal solution for reliable recognition of objects and holistic detection of the vehicle’s surroundings. The technology company has more than 25 years of experience in the development and integration of individually tailored, safe, and robust sensor solutions from individual components to complete systems. To date, Continental has brought more than 150 million sensors for assisted and automated driving functions on the road.

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