It’s not that rare: Parents park their car, go shopping or to a café and forget their toddler in the car. Now Continental has developed a function that uses UWB radio waves to detect them and warn the parents.
Especially in hot weather, leaving kids in the car can quickly lead to health problems for them; at an outside temperature of 30°C, the temperature inside the car reaches life-threatening levels of 46°C in just half an hour. According to the US National Security Council, statistically around 40 children die each year from heatstroke in cars. The automotive safety association Euro NCAP has therefore included the presence of a warning device in its list of requirements; similar specifications are also being prepared in the USA.
Against this background, the automotive supplier Continental has developed a recognition function for left-behind children. The system uses ultrawideband technology (UWB), which operates at transmission frequencies of 6 to 10 GHz and analyses reflected radio waves according to the radar principle. The system uses frequency and phase changes in the reflected radio waves to detect the specific breathing and micro-movement patterns of small children and sends an alarm message to the driver within ten seconds if the driver has forgotten a child in the car when locking it. For this purpose, Continental has integrated the warning system into its CoSmA digital vehicle access solution. With this development, car OEMs can prepare for the expected safety guidelines.
The system remains active after the vehicle is locked and scans the interior with UWB signals. At the same time, an intelligent logic analyses the movement patterns for typical characteristics of baby micro-movements. If, for example, an adult person is inside the vehicle instead of the child, this is detected and the alarm does not sound. According to Continental, the UWB-based detection function is able to recognise children in any seating position, whether they are covered up or are concealed in the footwell of the cabin.
Combining the system with the existing CoSmA access solution offers an advantage for vehicle manufacturers: it eliminates the need for additional hardware and allows overall costs to be reduced.
CoSmA was launched in 2021 as a UWB-based access solution. The car key is digitised and the access function is integrated directly into the driver’s smartphone. CoSmA offers significantly improved security against so-called relay attacks (man-in-the-middle). An algorithm enables the UWB transceivers to distinguish between an indoor and an outdoor location of the digital key with centimetre precision. This enables contactless access and engine start without the driver having to pick up the smartphone. Vehicle owners can also create and manage multiple digital keys simultaneously instead of passing on a physical key. Once generated, a key can then be conveniently shared with others.