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Automotive Safety Technologies Trends In 2021 & Beyond

OEMs across the globe have been stepping up their value addition in terms of safety in their vehicles as Euro NCAP ratings have started to play a significant role in car buying decisions for consumers.

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Year 2020 has brought us unanticipated tough times for the automotive industry. While the pandemic took centre stage and created a volatile market situation, interestingly, it was also a remarkable year in terms of automotive trends. 

BS-VI norms came into effect from 01 April 2020 - a historic month with zero sales in the automotive industry. Globally, the automotive sector struggled to cope with the pandemic situation marred by a heavily disrupted supply chain and an all-time low sales, attacking the already unhealthy market situation. Despite the challenges, the automotive industry is on track with the transformation influenced by the megatrends - electric, connected and autonomous mobility. The transformation itself is a rest to a new and longer timeline. 

2020 was an aberration in some ways when we look at the overall trend in automotive. We veered away from the path of shared mobility as personal vehicles came into focus due to Covid-19. The sales figures for 2-wheelers and smaller cars over the last few months indicate that more people are looking to be independently mobile instead of shared mobility, which was the trend forecast before March 2020. 

The focus in 2021 will be on the implementation of CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency) II norms, RDE (Real Driving Emissions), new motor vehicle rules, scrappage policy, safety regulations, continuing the trend of the last few years. 

OEMs across the globe have been stepping up their value addition in terms of safety in their vehicles as Euro NCAP ratings have started to play a significant role in car buying decisions for consumers. Safety related policies introduced in India in the recent past have ensured that features like anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and airbags are standard across car variants. 

This awareness will continue to grow. Vehicle dynamics safety features like Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and autonomous safety technologies such as Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and Lane Assist would become some of the standard features in vehicles in the near future. So, what can we expect in 2021? 

  1. ABS for 2-wheelers below 125cc 

The new safety policy mandates all 2-wheelers above 125cc to be equipped with ABS system. However, we expect the trend to trickle down to 2-wheelers below this category as well. There are technologies available that are light and cost-effective, making this a reality in 2021. 

2. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) 

Now that ABS is a mandatory requirement, we need to look towards what’s next. The ESC system continually evaluates the data from the wheel speed sensors, steering angle sensor, yaw rate, and lateral acceleration sensor. It compares the driver’s input with the vehicle’s actual behavior. 

3. ADAS Features 

The future is about autonomous driving. While we are still some time away from a fully autonomous vehicle on our roads, the next natural step is Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Features  

like Emergency Brake Assistance (EBA) and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) have already been implemented in luxury vehicles. 2021 will see these features enter Clevel vehicles as well, and eventually across all categories. Today’s focus is on adapting these technologies to suit Indian road conditions and optimize the price of the product to ensure wider usability. 

4. ARAS Features 

With an increase in awareness about safety features, the year 2021 will also witness a rise in the demand for the Advanced Rider Assistance System (ARAS). Some of these technologies are available in higher-end 2-wheelers globally, but the low-cost models could be considerable in India. For instance, a low-cost version of blind-spot detection technology, typically listed in the premium segment in other parts of the world, could be in high demand in India. Younger riders will influence the trend.

5. Passive Safety Features 

Airbags, seatbelts, and child-lock systems are the norm. However, the Passive Safety Systems - the technologies in action during and after the crash - will continue to be the focus in 2021. They have been a major contribution to road safety by reducing fatalities and the level of injuries. In the year 2021, there will be a rise in advanced passive safety technologies. However, to enable that, the industry must focus on Safety Domain Control Unit (SDCU). 

The SDCU is mainly for high-end applications and has several additional functions specifically designed to reduce the risk of an accident and limit the damage in the first and later phases of an accident. One attribute that makes it so effective is that it integrates information from forward-looking environment sensors. This makes it possible to estimate an accident’s severity before it occurs and conditions the restraint systems accordingly. 

Conclusion 

The next couple of years are the ‘transitioning years’ - the time when we are preparing to move into the future with connected, autonomous and electric vehicles. Other than the technologies, this also requires the development of infrastructure and policy. The conversations around legalities surrounding autonomous vehicles, ownership, and much more have begun in other parts of the world. There is also an increased focus on automotive cybersecurity. India will start to address these issues in a more structured manner. We also expect to see more infrastructure and allied development to address the requirements of a future where our vehicles run on batteries.  

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Prashanth Doreswamy

Prashanth Doreswamy is Country Head, Continental Corporation, India and Managing Director of Continental Automotive Components (India) Private Ltd. Mr Doreswamy has joined Continental in 2017 and has over 25 years of automotive and manufacturing industry experience. Doreswamy holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Masters in Manufacturing Engineering and Technology from Bangalore University, Masters Diploma in Business Administration from Symbiosis University.

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