about Arjeplog, Sweden, is somehow different. The community counts some 3,100
inhabitants on an area about ten times the size of New York City, which has a
population of 8.3 million. In Arjeplog, there are long empty streets,
temperatures can remain well below zero for weeks on end, and there are
countless frozen lakes. It is difficult to imagine anything more than reindeer
and northern lights in a place like this. And yet thousands of automotive
engineers flock to Arjeplog each year: the region's isolation and consistent
winter conditions offer just the right environment for the testing of vehicle
prototypes. Bosch was one of the first companies to test its technologies here.
In fact, this winter marks the 40th anniversary of Bosch's activities in
Arjeplog. For the past decade, the company has been using a comprehensive test
facility on the Vaitoudden peninsula. Establishing the facility required an
investment of 20 million euros.
Sweden is the perfect place to fine-tune safety systems such as ABS and ESP® on
snow and ice,” says Gerhard Steiger, president of the Chassis Systems Control
division. For braking control systems, low friction-coefficient roads are
particularly challenging. “If maneuvers are under control under such
conditions, all other situations are also covered,” Steiger says.
conducted its first minor test drives in northern Sweden as early as 1971. In
1973, the company heard of an airstrip on a frozen lake in Arjeplog. It was the
first to use the runway to develop its ABS anti-lock braking system – without
interrupting flight operations. Since then, Bosch has returned to Arjeplog each
year. The region, which is located 60km south of the Arctic Circle, has become
a veritable mecca for European automotive testers. Several times a week, direct
flights from the German automotive cities of Stuttgart, Munich, Frankfurt, and
Hannover land at a nearby airport in Arvidsjaur.
the years, engineers faced increasingly demanding requirements and a growing
number of projects. For this reason, Bosch built a new, much larger testing
facility in 2003. It is located at a lake outside of town. “Some 11 km of
streets wind through an area of 420 hectares,” says Andrew Allen, the British
head of the Swedish Bosch subsidiary. “The location offers all of the conditions
that can cause drivers headaches throughout the winter.” Driving surfaces that
are icy on one side, steep hills with a range of inclines, and a number of
other test courses are elements on the landside. The centre also features the
frozen lake with several track sections. Here, test drivers try out modern
braking control systems under the most extreme conditions on a sheet of ice
that is at least 30 centimetres thick. Up until a few years ago, even paved
courses were built on the lake each year to carry out “µ-split” braking, which
sees half the vehicle driving on a tarred surface with good grip, while the
other half is on slick ice. In such conditions, only a well-adjusted ABS system
can keep a vehicle on course in the event of emergency braking. For the past
several years, Bosch has also been testing powertrain components in Arjeplog:
the performance of hybrid and electric vehicles at temperatures of minus 20
degrees Celsius is tested there. For this reason, appropriate charge spots in
special garages were added to the facility in 2012.
some 500 Bosch associates spend several intensive weeks working in the far
north, where they drive a total of 500,000km on the test tracks. Each year, the
cost of transporting associates and vehicles to Sweden and back is high. But it
is a worthwhile investment, as the location provides engineers with the best
possible conditions in which to perfect the control behavior of the ABS and
ESP® active safety systems. For instance, the constant low temperatures ensure
the consistent presence of the driving conditions that place the greatest
demands on the quality of the control systems. Icemakers, the local specialists
responsible for ensuring that the road surfaces are constant, water and smooth
the courses several times a day. They also use special machinery to give the
ice the desired friction coefficient. All this ensures that even the smallest
change in driving behavior can be effectively analyzed following software
adjustments, without the risk of driving being influenced by changes in the
road surface. Here, experts refer to the reproducibility, or comparability, of
measured data. For example, the software of an electronic stability program
comprises more than 2,000 parameters which influence the way the system reacts
in extreme situations.
specialists will have more than enough work in the coming years, as braking
control systems become standard features around the world. In the United
States, Europe, and many other countries, legislation is increasingly making ESP
mandatory. In Brazil, India, and southeast Asia, ABS anti-lock braking systems
are becoming ever more widespread. Today, some 86 percent of newly produced
vehicles around the world are equipped with one of the two electronic safety
Assistance and automation further enhance
driving safety and comfort
will continue to push vehicle development forward in the future. The company's
aim of further improving driving comfort and safety and the continuing trend
toward powertrain electrification call for new brake technologies as well as
new, increasingly networked vehicle functions. With the ESP hev in the
Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid, Bosch brought an innovative braking system to series
production in 2013. The system is the world's first to integrate a regenerative
braking function without the need for additional components. The Bosch iBooster
is a further solution for regenerative braking. This electromechanical brake
booster permits practically complete recuperation of kinetic energy.
Deceleration values of up to 0.3 g, which is sufficient for all braking
maneuvers in normal traffic, are achieved solely by means of the electric
motor. The new brake booster can operate without any vacuum from the
internal-combustion engine and has premiered in VW's all-electric e-up. “Bosch
offers a building block system that makes it possible to put together
customized braking systems for every car,” Steiger says. “It provides
assistance functions for the full range of currently available powertrain
technologies, regardless of equipment level.”
growing number of surround sensors already now complement the brake control
system. In combination with powertrain and steering technologies, a number of
high-performance functions can be realized, including adaptive cruise control,
predictive emergency braking, road sign recognition, and self-steering parking
assistance. In the future, increasing networking and connectivity will make the
car even more intelligent. For instance, drivers will one day be aware of
potential hazards behind upcoming bends in the road well in advance, and will
know when they need to slow down or accelerate. The level of automation also
continues to grow. Cars are already parking semi-automatically and helping
drivers keep to their lanes. “A few years from now, cars will be able to find
spots in parking garages entirely on their own, and they will be able to
navigate through morning traffic jams on the freeway in a highly automated
manner,” says Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, the member of the Bosch board of management
responsible for this topic. In this scenario, drivers will be able to use their
smart phones without danger, for instance. But since such functions do not
require extensive winter testing until now, the engineers working on them are
not likely to experience the cold and charm of Arjeplog.
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