Automobile engineering is one of the rapidly evolving sectors of engineering. There have been numerous developments in automobile engineering recently from environmentally safe fuels to self-driving cars. Here are a few achievements that I personally believe are good milestones in the development of automobiles:

Safer cars inspired by mantis shrimp:

Although self-driving cars are the most trending technology at the moment, a majority of folks are still skeptical about how safe they are. While there are plenty of sensors already used in a vehicle, scientists have come up with a new camera that is inspired by the mantis shrimp to take the achievement to a whole new level.

For example, humans have three types of rods for processing color whereas a mantis shrimp has 16. This means that the crustacean is better evolved at vision than humans are. Scientists have successfully built a camera based on the bio-model that can spot threats even in the most challenging conditions, making it more reliable than the human eye. Earlier this year, a self-driving car crashed into a truck because it failed to detect the truck before it as the color and the light intensity of the truck merged with the sky in the background. Drawing influence from this incident, the researchers from the University of Illinois developed this camera which has a logarithmic response to light and intensity instead of being linearly proportional.

“We used the camera under different driving lighting conditions such as tunnels or foggy conditions,” said Tyler Davis, a member of the research team. “The camera handled these challenging imaging conditions without any problems.”

The dynamic range and polarization capability can be seen in the light intensity image (left) and two polarization images (middle and right) acquired with the new camera:


Credit: Viktor Gruev, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The original article was taken from this link

Ground-penetrating Radar (GPR):

Autonomous car technology has come up with another method to perfect their driving techniques. WaveSense has come up with a VHF radar to help technology penetrate its vision below the ground. The GPR measure wave reflections from underground objects and maps a sub-terrain composition. When the vehicle drives, it’s position is roughly located by online GPS. The GPR then scans the sub-terrain and the algorithm narrows the exact position of the vehicle based on the maps in the WaveSense database. GPR is not a complete solution on its own but it rather bridges the gap between other sensors and serves as a backup in many cases.

Image and article can be found in this link

Self-heating, fast-charging batteries:

Electric vehicles are popular these days but not in areas where the climate is generally cold. This is because Lithium-ion batteries do not get along well with low temperatures. When the temperature falls below 100C, the battery cannot be recharged rapidly. In colder countries like Scandinavia, electric vehicles have a heater installed along with the battery.

The Penn State team, led by Chao-Yang Wang has developed a battery that can self-heat and recharge rapidly in 15 minutes in temperatures as low as -430 C. This battery is capable of withstanding 4500 cycles of charging, giving it a lifespan of 12½ years with a maximum 20% capacity loss. A conventional battery lost 20% of capacity in 50 cycles.

“One unique feature of our cell is that it will do the heating and then switch to charging automatically,” said Chao-Yang Wang

Image: Chao-Yang Wang / Penn State

Image and article was referred from this website

Coding in automobiles:

When the first automobile was developed, it was purely a mechanical system. Over time, a few electronic components were added like the windshield wiper, starter motor, and lights. But as technology expanded, the lines between the fields of mechanical, electronics, and computers grew increasingly blurred. For the last 20 years, automobiles are designed with an array of sensors and other electronic devices. They went from being wholly mechanical to becoming a mechatronic component. But as computational powers continue to grow supernaturally, the development and manufacturing of cars are now moving toward integrating with digital systems. Industries are looking for ways to cut down the production time of an automobile and computers are the answer. From the way things are moving on, industries are working toward these steps:

  • Design and test automobile models in CAE software to zero down the perfect design for production
  • Optimize systems during production using programming languages
  • Test cars computationally instead of using prototypes.

Out of the three steps, the first two have already been achieved. This is why it is important for mechanical engineers to learn coding nowadays.

Coding is getting comparatively important as every day passes by. The automotive industry is becoming increasingly dependent on the software industry. A single passenger car requires over 100 million lines of code. With autonomous, self-driving cars, software development will reach new heights. Also, coding enables manufacturers to ensure that the software components are reliable, secure, and safe.

“Automotive design continues to be one of the most exciting, fast-paced and evolving markets of all, underpinned by software innovation. Understanding the role of software coding standards such as AUTOSAR and MISRA, then applying the right techniques and tools to ensure that they are adhered to, will help pave the way for a safer, more standardized future for the industry.” – Richard Bellairs, Production Manager, Perforce.



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