A modern onboard network as a requirement for greater safety through autonomous driving

Interview with Karl-Heinz Lode on his expectations of how autonomous driving will increase road safety, what consequences it will have for the on-board network of the future, and what MD is doing to be prepared for these challenges.

“The widespread introduction of autonomous driving eliminates humans as a source of error. This is expected to reduce the number of accidents by around 90%.”

Tech Talk is an interview series that introduces you to some inspiring characters inside and outside MD and the world of tech, innovation and beyond.

In this edition of our Tech Talk we met Karl-Heinz, Application Engineer at MD. In the interview we talk about how autonomous driving will increase road safety, the consequences for the on-board power system of the future and what MD is doing to be prepared.

Karl-Heinz, please tell me a little bit about yourself. What excites you most about your job?

The automotive industry is a constantly growing and evolving sector. This requires a constant exchange with customers. I am particularly fascinated to work with the entire supply chain to develop technical solutions for the vehicle of tomorrow.

You worked intensively on the topic of autonomous driving as part of your master’s thesis. How much do you think autonomous driving will increase road safety?

To be able to answer the question, I would like to take a look at the current status quo in road safety. In 2021, 2,314,938 accidents were recorded in Germany. In the process, 323,129 people were injured. 2,562 people lost their lives. Approximately 95% of accidents resulting in personal injury are due to driver error. Of these, approximately 53% were caused by non-compliance with the German Road Traffic Regulations (StVO) and 7% by the driver’s impaired driving ability. The widespread introduction of autonomous driving will eliminate the human factor as a source of error. This is expected to reduce the number of accidents by about 90%.

Wow, that is very interesting. How can autonomous driving specifically increase safety?

Autonomous driving requires real-time communication between vehicles and the environment. This communication is summarized under the term V2X (Vehicle-to-Everything). Vehicles exchange information with each other, as well as with road signs or traffic lights, and can warn of dangerous situations.

The use of multiple camera and radar sensors analyzes the immediate surroundings. These are supported by LiDAR sensors. In combination, the sensors generate a digital image of the surroundings, even in the dark. Compared to humans, “attention” cannot be impaired in vehicles themselves, so the component of human error is completely eliminated. The vehicle reacts to all environmental influences at all times, which significantly increases road safety.

Another aspect of road safety are interior camera systems in the vehicle. They register health emergencies of the vehicle occupants while driving. In the event of an emergency, the vehicle automatically drives to the nearest hospital. Likewise, depending on the load and position of the passengers, this controls the ignition of the airbags. This helps prevent additional injuries in the event of a crash.

Experts believe that all the sensors and systems communicating with the environment will virtually eliminate accidents.

What consequences will this have for the vehicle on-board power system of the future?

The introduction of autonomous driving will ensure growth in E/E components in the car. This will result in new requirements for the vehicle on-board power system. Due to the increasing complexity, implementation is no longer possible with today’s onboard networks. As a result, the entire vehicle on-board system, the communication paths and also the wiring harnesses must evolve and be restructured.

How does this change the technical requirements for an assembler?

In the course of the “autonomous driving” megatrend, the number of safety-relevant applications is increasing, ensuring functionality is hereby particularly important. This naturally includes establishing the connection between the individual devices in the vehicle. Additional components such as CPAs (Connector Position Assurance) will be used for this purpose. This verifies a mechanically correct plug-in connection and prevents unintentional disconnection. End-of-line tests prior to each shipment will immediately detect and sort out defective parts. Increasing demands for complete traceability of parts contribute to the sustainable identification of error sources.

How is MD ELEKTRONIK preparing for this development?

As a specialist in the assembly of special data cables, MD meets the requirements of the market. Our own innovations, such as the development of our own C-KLIC connector system, contribute to this. We are also looking into the field of optical data transmission. Extensive testing and end-to-end traceability are already established production standards. Innovative and unique production in the sensor field has already created a technical advantage in the field of safety-relevant applications.

Karl-Heinz, many thanks for this eye-opening conversation!

Karl-Heinz Lode

Karl-Heinz Lode has been working as an Application Engineer for MD for more than 6 years. He is in constant contact with the supply chain. His task is to solve the technical problems of tomorrow. During his master studies, which were supported by MD, he was deeply involved in the development of on-board networks as well as autonomous driving. He is particularly excited to help shape the mobility of the future with his expertise.