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  • Writer's pictureNATALIA SOUSA

Paving the Way for Autonomous Trucks: Continental Modular Multi-Sensor Solution.

A multi-sensor system, also known as the Continental Sensor Array, can be mounted above the windshield on a truck. Continental has launched a compact, integrated solution for the growing number of intelligent and automated driving systems in commercial vehicles.

Furthermore, higher levels of automation such as L4 require a larger number of different sensors that can be installed intelligently, quickly, and safely. In the comprehensive solution, all integrated sensors – lidar, radar, cameras – for adaptive cruise control, emergency braking and blind spot assist, and automated driving functions are pre-calibrated and coordinated with each other. This 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 thus the downtimes of vehicles are reduced. Continental says it is helping to make commercial vehicles and logistics companies fit for the mobility of tomorrow.

The market for automated driving is growing substantially – commercial vehicles play a key role in this. Especially on long distances between logistics centers – from "hub to hub" – innovative assistance systems are already contributing to significantly increased safety and will continue to revolutionize the transport business, right up 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 in terms of safety. "With the Continental Sensor Array, we are demonstrating a tailor-made system solution approach for commercial vehicles," says Claudia Fründt, Head of Market Trucks Autonomous Mobility Business Area at Continental. "We see great potential in automated and ultimately autonomous driving in the commercial vehicle sector, especially in view of the high number of downtimes. Highly complex sensor systems are necessary for essential, holistic environment perception. Our solution offers uncomplicated assembly and calibration of multiple sensor systems in a single, compact module."

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

"A multi-sensor system in a compact solution offers vehicle manufacturers and users many advantages," explains Dr. Andree Hohm, Head of Innovation Line Driverless Autonomous Mobility Business Area at Continental. "Radar, lidar and cameras are pre-calibrated and matched to each other. The effort for the final calibration of the sensor solution during assembly, the effort for the assembly of the sensor systems themselves and, finally, for the maintenance of the vehicles is significantly reduced. When trucks drive autonomously and are on the road around the clock, our sensor array can be easily replaced for maintenance work, for example. In this way, costly downtimes can be avoided." In addition, the electronic architecture and wiring harness 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 on-board electrical system is prepared for this.

Cleaning and air conditioning of the sensor units are also simplified: Continental has an automatic "Camera and Sensor Cleaning, Cooling and Heating" system in its portfolio. All sensors independently monitor the degree of their pollution. Camera lenses are automatically cleaned by water jet. In addition, intelligent thermal management ensures the flawless use of sensor technology in all weather conditions.

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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