Grand Blanc firm introduces new brake, steering safety system

GRAND BLANC—Using technologies from its parent companies—the German auto supplier Continental and the Chinese-owned, Saginaw based electronic power steering company Nexteer—Grand Blanc-based CNXMotion has introduced a new technology it’s calling Brake-to-Steer, which provides driver safety through an additional layer of directional control for highly automated and autonomous vehicles.

The BtS function resides in a vehicle’s motion control system, the intermediary between the vehicle’s path planner in an automated driving system, and actuators such as steering, brakes, and powertrain, to determine the best path forward. The vehicle’s intended path is compared to the system’s ability to steer the vehicle, constantly negotiating the safest route ahead.

When BtS engages, the system either continues on the intended path before ultimately moving to the first or second option, performs a minimum risk maneuver, such as slowing and braking to steer the vehicle to the side of the road, or stops in the lane.

Originally developed for steering redundancy in Level 4+ autonomy, the feature can be adapted to assist a driver in multiple scenarios for lower levels of autonomy, such as lane keeping or obstacle avoidance, while a driver is still present, following the intentions provided from the driver’s steering input. In a fully autonomous vehicle with no steering wheel present, BtS will negotiate a commanded path until a safe pull-over can be achieved.

“Perhaps the most critical challenge in highly automated and autonomous driving is ensuring the robustness of system redundancies to keep drivers, passengers and road users safe,” said Alan Davis, general manager of CNXMotion. “CNXMotion’s Brake-to-Steer technology offers another steering safety layer for a wide range of automated driving conditions.”

Added Hiren Desai, head of strategy for autonomous mobility and safety at Continental North America: “As we progress toward higher levels of automation in vehicles, secondary and tertiary redundancy becomes crucial in executing successful minimum risk maneuvers. This helps keep vehicle occupants and road users safe. Cross-domain functionalities such as Brake-to-Steer are enabled by, and housed on, existing hardware, like Continental’s MKCx brake-by-wire systems, eliminating the need for additional, costly components.”

And Robin Milavec, senior vice president, chief technology officer and chief strategy officer at Nexteer said: “While steering traditionally manages the lateral control of a vehicle, Brake-to-Steer enables braking to contribute to lateral control as well. When combined with advanced steering systems like Nexteer’s High Availability Electric Power Steering or Steer-by-Wire, Brake-to-Steer gives an additional layer of redundancy—further enhancing the safety net.”

CNXMotion was established as a joint venture between Continental and Nexteer Automotive in 2017 to innovate motion control solutions for advanced applications and accelerate R&D activities for the parent companies. CNXMotion employs about 30 people in its offices in Grand Blanc.

Nexteer and Continental hold an equal 50-50 percent ownership position in the joint venture. CNXMotion focuses on R&D activities, including rapid evaluation, design and prototyping.

Continental, founded in 1871, generated 2019 generated sales of €44.5 billion and currently employs more than 233,000 people in 59 countries and markets. Nexteer Automotive (HK 1316), a global leader in intuitive motion control, is a multi-billion dollar global steering and driveline business delivering electric and hydraulic power steering systems, steering columns, driveline systems, as well as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving enabling technologies for automakers. The company has 27 manufacturing plants, three technical centers and 13 customer service centers in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. The company serves more than 60 customers in every major region of the world, including BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, GM, PSA Groupe, Toyota and VW, as well as automakers in India and China.

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