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Continental's eHorizon Reads the Road to Optimize Vehicle Efficiency and Performance

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich., October 20, 2008: Commercial and passenger vehicle safety, drivability and fuel economy all can be improved simultaneously using Continental AG's new eHorizon control unit concept, which will be featured at Convergence 2008, the automotive electronics conference taking place in Detroit, Oct. 20-22.

In an eHorizon-equipped vehicle, data about road features such as topography and curvature, as well as the vehicle's location, speed and other information, are collected and continuously fed to the control units of individual vehicle systems, such as powertrain and safety systems.

"When you know a stretch of road like the back of your hand, you drive more intuitively and efficiently because you know every hill and curve," said Dr. Ruf, head of Continental's Multimedia Business Unit. "Armed with GPS and extensive map and road data, Continental's eHorizon knows roads equally well, and it helps coordinate and tailor the response of individual vehicle systems for optimum performance, improved safety and better fuel economy."

For example, automatic transmission shift strategies can be optimized when driving on curving or hilly roads, adaptive headlamps can begin to adjust even before the steering wheel is turned and adaptive cruise control systems can respond to factors such as speed limits and road type.

In addition, powertrain control strategies for both conventional and hybrid systems can be optimized based on the road ahead to improve fuel economy.

Some of the basic functionality of eHorizon is already being used to improve the performance of the Adaptive Cruise Control system in an OEM product.

Modular Design, Standard Protocols

The eHorizon concept from Continental is modular in design and easily adapted for a wide range of vehicle applications. Continental also offers a complete eHorizon development package, which will allow customers to test new functions early in the product development process.

In a basic version of eHorizon, a control unit is integrated in the vehicle to precisely calculate its position with the help of GPS, a gyroscope and wheel-speed information. Alternatively, eHorizon can use data captured by navigation systems or the Continental Multi Media Platform (MMP) an upgradeable system that includes a car radio, CD/DVD player and navigation system, and the ability to wirelessly connect mobile phones and audio players.

The map data is transmitted in a standardized data format to the other control devices via the Controller Area Network (CAN) bus, a data bus with a data transfer rate of up to one megabit per second. The individual control units then recreate the virtual road image with the help of an integrated program referred to as the "Reconstructor." The underlying data protocol is in line with the Advanced Driver Assistant Systems Interface Specifications (ADASIS) standard and can be adapted individually to the vehicle manufacturer.

Each time the data package is refreshed, the oldest data package is deleted from the control unit's memory. This effective memory management reduces the system requirements when implementing new functions. If Continental's MMP with integrated navigation system is installed in the vehicle, the system then prepares the data and provides it via the CAN bus.

The eHorizon concept was first shown at the IAA Commercial Vehicles 2008 show in Hanover, Germany in September.