Editor’s note: This is another in DT’s series of Q&As with leaders in the automated, connected, and driverless vehicle industry.
Frank Sgambati is the director of marketing, product planning and innovation management, Chassis Systems Control division of Robert Bosch LLC in Plymouth, Michigan. He is responsible for the division’s strategic marketing and product innovation in North America. Sgambati has been with Bosch since 1998, working in the U.S., Germany, and the United Kingdom.
The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 375,000 associates worldwide, and generated sales of nearly $80 billion in 2015. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology.
Bosch is one of the largest Tier 1 suppliers in the world. What is the firm’s view of the shift to autonomous technology — cautious, excited, full-speed ahead?
Bosch is working on the development of automated driving. Our activities are motivated by the vision of increased safety, comfort and mobility of all road users. A forward-thinking vehicle which takes over dedicated driving tasks could make the vision of injury and accident-free driving a reality. Automated driving will allow the vehicle to become a part of the driver’s interconnected home and work life, making time spent on the road more productive and eventful.
Partially-automated functions, such as the traffic jam assist, are already in the market, and are soon to be followed by functions with higher levels of automation. Fully-automated functions on highways could be implemented in the vehicles at the end of the decade. Fully-automated driving in cities will take a bit longer.
What autonomous products are you marketing to U.S. clients?
Bosch focuses on the functional development and derivation of requirements for systems and products of automated driving. We focus on sensors, the vehicle architecture, actuators and their integration into the vehicle. The sensor technology that we are developing includes radar, video, and ultrasonic sensors. We are using prototype vehicles as a tool for the definition of sensor and system requirements. Two highly collaborative teams are developing the technologies for future automated vehicles applying agile development methods.
How does that contrast with Europe? Asia?
We do not see a difference in technology between the regions. Bosch sensor technology is already being tested on public roads. Bosch is testing automated driving on freeways not only in Germany and the United States but now also in Japan.
Share with us Bosch’s Big Picture view of autonomous vehicles 10 years from now. Will the personal transportation market be transformed from today?
At the CES in January, Bosch displayed a glimpse into the car of the future. Bosch showed how a car will experience a new kind of interaction between humans and technology. In the show car, the dashboard and central console are transformed into an electronic display. The information shown on this giant display changes depending on the vehicle’s current surroundings. If a pedestrian approaches from the right, a lighting sequence is triggered to alert the driver. Drivers’ preferences as well as appointments in their diary are also taken into account. For example, if an appointment is cancelled, the car of the future will automatically indicate the route to the next appointment in the diary. Drivers will be able to activate the autopilot to free up even more time and make their journey more relaxed.
But tomorrow’s connected and automated cars will also be capable of much more. With a connection to the smart home, they will enable household functions such as heating or security systems to be operated at any time. For example, should a courier attempt to deliver a package with no one at home, all it will take is the tap of a finger on the vehicle’s display to allow the courier to deposit the package inside the house and confirm receipt. Interaction with technology really will be able to take such varied forms, and offer such safety and convenience.
Connected infotainment will let drivers navigate not just through the traffic but through their whole day. They will be able to use it to access online services and smartphone apps – and they will be able to control it using gestures and speech, just as if they were talking with a passenger. This will turn the car into the driver’s truly personal assistant.
How are you combining autonomous technology with electric vehicles?
With our complete systems solutions, we’re writing new chapters in automotive history. Bosch believes the future of mobility includes solutions for connectivity, automation, and electrification. We are developing mobility solutions for this future in the following way:
Connected: Bosch is making the car an active part of the internet.
Automated: Bosch is making the autopilot ready for the road.
Electrified: Bosch is energizing the powertrain.
Bosch is a believer in haptic communications, or briefly, communicating through touch. For instance, you market a gas pedal that can ‘tell’ the driver to ease off the pedal. Does Bosch favor haptic vs. lights vs. sound communications with the driver?
Bosch works with all forms of Human to Machine Interface (HMI) including haptic, visual, and audible. We support our customer needs to implement HMI solutions that best fit their strategies.