Source: The following is excerpted from a first-person post by Balasubramanyam Padmanabha, Group Lead – Safety Functions Group, for Continental about the engineering that went into developing safety technology for the new Volkswagen ID.3 electric vehicle.

HANOVER, Germany – There were two reasons why I joined Continental four years ago. The first was the opportunity to work in a field where progress is so rapid. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are developing extremely fast. Research and funds are focused on the systems and almost every day, someone makes a breakthrough in projects that hardly anyone would have thought possible a little while ago. A dream for every tech-lover.

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The second reason I wanted to work in this field is the possibility to work on a project that could save lives and give something back to society. About 1.35 million people die in traffic accidents every year, 93 percent of them in low and middle-income countries, even though only 60 percent of the world’s vehicles are driven there, according to WHO figures. As a native of Bangalore, I can do nothing but share Continental’s Vision Zero: Zero Fatalities, Zero Injuries, Zero Crashes.

Our goal: Achieve a five-star rating in the safety assessment

Since my first day, I was involved in a pilot project for an automated emergency braking (AEB) system. Four years later, our technology has been incorporated into the new VW ID.3, the all-electric Volkswagen of the future. In this video , VW CEO Herbert Diess even told Elon Musk about the great assistance systems. It is one of the first cars to achieve five stars in the safety assessment under the NCAP 2020 protocol, the standardized test protocol for safety systems .

A complex procedure behind a simple braking

But first, what does an AEB system actually do? The simple answer: it automatically brakes the car in a dangerous situation. Driven by accident statistics, there are three main types of driving situations which can become critical and should lead AEB intervention: a car, a bike and a pedestrian in or close to path of our car.

Our project is based on several sensors, major contributions to the AEB function give the radar from Continental and cameras for which a third-party supplier was responsible. My team was in charge of prioritizing AEB specific signals from fused signal they receive from the sensor and to let the system take a decision: Is the obstacle detected reliably? What is the type or class of the object? Is situation critical and how will it develop? This information is then delivered to the AEB system of VW.

The colleagues at Volkswagen were then in turn responsible for ensuring that the AEB system actually applies the brake in the car on the signal we provided. What sounds straightforward at first, quickly becomes very complex. In projects like these, with several people responsible, it is particularly important to keep everyone on the same page.

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