At the show, Bosch will focus on three topics. Not a big surprise: Technologies for the electrification of the powertrain, for automated driving and for the integration of vehicles into data networks – with extensive cloud services in the background – will dominate the company’s exhibits.
One of the company’s most strategic innovations will enable car designers to make electric powertrains more compact, more reliable and more affordable. Bosch’s electric axle (e-axle) is a compact, cost-optimized solution for the electrical drive of battery-powered vehicles and hybrids. The electric motor, power electronics and transmission are combined to form a compact unit that directly drives the vehicle axle. This reduces the complexity of the electric drive and has the potential to shorten the development times of electric vehicles. The e-axle features a variable design: Scalable for performances between 50 to 300 kilowatts, it can be installed in small passenger cars, SUVs and even light commercial vehicles. Its high overall efficiency results on the one hand from continuous optimization of the electric motor and power electronics, on the other hand from the reduction of interfaces and components such as high-voltage cables, plugs and cooling components. This translates into a higher driving range before the battery needs to be recharged. In order to guarantee fast and global availability, Bosch has developed a flexible production concept that is ready for use worldwide. “With this design, Bosch is applying the all-in-one principle to the electric powertrain,” commented Rolf Bulander, one of Bosch’s top level managers who oversees the company’s mobility activities.
Developed with particular focus on the design of light electric vehicles is another exhibit: A complete 48-volt drive system with motor, control unit, battery, charger, display and app specifically designed for urban mobility. The system enables OEMs to develop battery electric vehicles with two, three or four wheels. The system can be used in all classes of light electric vehicles such as e-scooters or small electric cars. Since it includes proven automotive components, car manufacturers benefit from series-tested products and low development costs. This gives not only established OEMs but also new players on the market the chance to bring a vehicle on the market within 12 to 18 months.
In the segment of automated driving, Bosch will show its Vehicle Control Unit (VCU). This development looks a little bit like Audi’s central driver assistance system computer zFAS, but it is an independent design. The fact that Bosch is offering such a system nevertheless shows that after years of discussion about centralized or decentralized car computers, the trend goes toward a powerful central computer, at least for certain applications.
The idea behind Bosch’s VCU: Modern vehicles now have up to 100 individual control units. Central control units, so-called vehicle control units, can significantly reduce this number. This saves valuable space in the vehicle, reduces the weight and facilitates communication between the control units. As a central computer for the drive train, the VCU in an electric vehicle coordinates, for example, functions of the drive components such as inverter, battery management, transmission and engine management. If the VCU is used as a domain computer, it can even take over individual functions. These include, for example, operating and switching strategies, torque coordination, high-voltage and 48-volt coordination, charge control, diagnostics, monitoring, thermal management and more. As usual, Bosch did not elaborate on the types of microprocessors utilized in the unit.
a recent development in the area of automated driving is Bosch’s automated valet parking technology developed in close cooperation with Daimler. It enables users to send their vehicles to a parking space, even in a multi-storey parking lot, just by means of a smartphone command without the driver having to monitor the maneuver. However, for the time being, this trick does not work in any parking lot – the driver-free parking requires an intelligent parking garage infrastructure in conjunction with the technology in the vehicle.
Closely related is another development: Community-based parking. This feature relieves drivers of the burden to search for a suitable parking space. In the process, the car detects and misses gaps between parking vehicles with the parking sensors’ ultrasonic sensors. The recorded information is transmitted in real time into a digital map of the environment that can be used by drivers to navigate to unoccupied parking spaces. The service is currently tested by Bosch along with its partner Daimler as well as with other manufacturers. In the future, it will be supplemented by a digital payment function for parking fees.