More than 20 years after the
first vehicles with advanced telematics systems rolled off the production line,
connectivity will now be standard in every vehicle with a new type approval as
of April 2018 in Europe. From now on, the automatic emergency call system,
eCall, must be installed in all new cars receiving type approval after April
2018 in the European Union, regardless of manufacturer, model or price
Technology company Continental
has been developing telematics units since 1996 and welcomes the decision of
the European Commission on eCall. “For us, eCall means that we are a huge step
closer to our Vision Zero – mobility without road deaths or injuries as help is
now automatically on its way in case of an accident. By using the telematics
unit for other applications like real-time information about traffic flows or
potential hazards, accidents can even be actively avoided and congestion
minimized,” says Johann Hiebl, head of Continental’s Infotainment &
Connectivity business unit.
Reduced response time and fewer road deaths
Thanks to eCall, vehicles have
an on-board emergency call system, which can automatically send an emergency
alert with the vehicle’s exact location to the closest appropriately equipped
public-safety answering point. The system uses the standard emergency number in
Europe, 112. According to the European Commission, this will reduce the
response time by up to 40 percent in urban areas and even up to 50 percent in
rural areas. Statistically, a shorter response time means casualties get help
faster so that more harm can be prevented. At the same time, according to
information from the European Commission, the introduction of eCall could
represent a statistical reduction in the number of fatalities of ten percent
per year in the EU.
The automatic eCall system is
activated by the triggering of the air bag control unit. It’s also possible to
trigger an emergency call manually, for example if a driver witnesses a serious
accident. According to the European standard, a minimum set of data must be
transmitted to the public-safety answering point. This data telegram is 140
bytes long and contains information selected on the basis of their relevance in
an emergency rescue situation like the time of the emergency call, the vehicle
type and location, the drive type, the number of passengers, the direction of
travel, the way in which the emergency call was triggered and other
eCall makes connectivity the standard in modern cars
The hardware in the vehicle
used for the eCall function is the in-built telematics unit, which primarily
consists of a modem (network access device), a satellite positioning (e.g.
Galileo) antenna and the electronics required for connection to the vehicle,
and possibly a back-up battery. “However, eCall is just one of over a hundred
functions that could be integrated in the telematics unit of all new vehicles.
It is an important cornerstone of holistic connectivity, so from April 2018 at
the latest, the car will become a smartphone on wheels, bringing the mobile and
digital worlds together,” explains Hiebl.
The new functions and services
enabled by connectivity in the vehicle include software updates for all vehicle
electronics, which are performed wirelessly via an air interface without
visiting a dealer workshop, as well as remote and anticipatory vehicle
diagnostics. As today’s vehicles consist of up to 100 million lines of code, in
addition to eCall, these functions are among the core functions of modern
telematics units and key to establish the vision of holistic connectivity.
Furthermore, connectivity can ensure road safety, as vehicles are able to
mutually exchange information through the use of V2X communication
(Vehicle-to-everything) technology, and warn each other of potential hazards en
To further expand and enhance
its telematics business, Continental is already working on integrating the new
mobile network standards LTE-Advanced and 5G into the vehicle. eCall based
telematics systems are already ready for production at Continental. These can
be adapted to the requirements of individual vehicle manufacturers and
delivered at short notice.
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