Driver assistance systems are gaining ground – impacts on the on-board network

Interview with Martin Wittmann about his work at MD, the increasing number of electronic assistants in modern vehicles, the impacts on automotive suppliers and what MD is doing to prepare for the related developments.

Tech Talk is a series of interviews that introduce you to some inspiring personalities within and outside of MD as well as to the world of technology, innovation, and more. In this edition, we sat down with Martin Wittmann, an Application Engineer who works in the Sales International Department at MD. We talk about his job at MD, Regulation (EU) 2019/2144, which stipulates that, from summer 2024, new vehicles must be equipped with a range of driver assistance systems, and how on-board network suppliers and MD itself are keeping pace with this situation.

Martin, please tell us a little bit about yourself. What was your career path and what do you value about your work at MD?

I’m Martin, I’m 36, and I work as a Senior Application Engineer in the Sales Department. I started at MD 8 years ago as a Development Engineer, and then changed to Application Engineering in 2019. At my previous company, I was mainly responsible for the development and technical sales of charging stations for electric vehicles.

As an Application Engineer at MD, I am responsible for developing and implementing solutions for complex technical tasks as a technical link to the customer. What I find extremely attractive is the regular contact and exchange with our international customers. The respective requirements for our products, which can vary depending on the OEM, and the cooperation with the various internal departments necessary for implementation make the tasks very varied and interesting.

From next summer, Regulation (EU) 2019/2144, which stipulates that all new cars must be equipped with specific driver assistance systems, will be applicable in many areas. Please tell us what this means for the automotive sector.

The fact that an increasing number of sensors, cameras and similar systems are built into each vehicle is no new development. However, the trend has certainly intensified through the compulsory installation of many driver assistance systems. In the past, car manufacturers were able to offer basic models without many added extras, but today, these models must also be far better equipped. And in order to stand out and enhance the premium character, even more sophisticated technologies will be used in the luxury class. This will certainly lead to additional pressure where innovation is concerned, as well as to an increase in demand among the relevant suppliers.

What do you think will be the impact on suppliers, especially in the on-board network and on assemblers?

We will, of course, first have to adapt to higher production and supply quantities in order to meet the increase in OEM demands. As driver assistance systems take on more and more responsibility and, in many cases, intervene directly in vehicle control, the security of the data connections is becoming increasingly important, leading to higher requirements in terms of automation level, quality and traceability. Along with the actual number of data cables in the vehicle, weight and space requirements are also increasing. Miniaturization, hybrid cable assemblies and the related flexibility in cable assembly are common ways of dealing with these challenges.

How is MD keeping pace with these challenges?

Automated production with automated process monitoring is taking center stage in our machine park. Our machines are developed and built in-house securing us an advantage over our competitors and keeping our know-how inside the company. In this way, we can ensure the necessary production speed and precision as well as compliance with quality standards. But, at the same time, we remain flexible enough to be able to handle an increasing number of variants and faster development cycles. 

However, we are also focusing on the development of new data transmission systems. Optical transmission solutions will, for example, offer greater potential in future vehicle architectures for faster transmission rates, lower weight, greater reliability and safety, particularly against electromagnetic interference.

Finally, can you please give us a few examples of the components that MD is specifically supplying for some of the driver assistance systems that will soon be mandatory in all new vehicles?

Assistance systems such as intelligent speed assistance, automatic emergency-stop assistance, emergency lane-keeping assistance and reverse assistance have different functionalities, and the sensors and cameras necessary for this require different data cables to transmit the signals. For example, for the intelligent speed assistance system, cameras are used to recognize road signs. They are generally connected to the control devices by coax cables (FAKRA or mini-coax).

On the other hand, sensors such as radar sensors or LiDAR sensors are required for the automatic emergency stop assistance system. Their signals are generally transmitted by Ethernet cables. For this purpose, MD supplies twisted pair cables such as H-MTD/GEMnet or MATEnet.

Martin, many thanks for this very interesting conversation!

Increasing quantities, stricter quality requirements – on-board network suppliers are in great demand!

Regulation (EU) 2019/2144, which stipulates a larger number of driver assistance systems in new vehicles from summer 2024, is just one additional driver of a long-term trend: the further development of the on-board network is calling on suppliers to provide higher quantities, increase quality requirements and miniaturize data cables.

MD is meeting these challenges with automated production systems, greater flexibility and the development of new data transmission systems such as optical solutions, in order to respond to the increasing requirements for transmission rates, weight reduction and quality.

Martin Wittmann

Martin Wittmann has been working for MD for over 8 years. After holding positions in the development and technical sales of charging stations for electric cars and initially as a Development Engineer at MD, he now works as a Senior Application Engineer in the International Sales Department. He particularly enjoys the intensive dialogue with international customers and MD internally, as well as the large number of OEM-specific requirements.