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State-of-the-Art Safety Technologies for the M.E.C.A Era

In the era of Mobility, Electrification, Connectivity, Autonomous (M.E.C.A.), the concept of automotive safety is changing. As the purpose of automobiles expands from simple “mobility” to offering spaces capable of accommodating various lifestyles, it is now imperative for automakers to design the realm of safety to encompass hitherto unforeseen possibilities.

FUTURECovering a Broad Range of Safety Technologies

Active Maneuvering

Conventional safety strategy comprises two conventional safety features – active and passive features. And four safety features, which are passenger monitoring, pollution control, safety exit assist, and advanced remote maintenance services, are newly added by Hyundai Motor Group for the era of M.E.C.A.

These active and passive safety features are to respond to secondary accidents that could occur after the first accidents.  ‘Passenger Monitoring System’ measures the driver’s vital signs to provide health information while also offering care for the driver by linking up with convenience and safety systems. It also activates an air purification system to protect the vehicle and passengers from harmful substances such as fine dust, and controls the air conditioning unit mood by determining the indoor air condition by the vehicle itself. The Rear Occupant Alert monitors every passenger’s safety, and the advanced connectivity features also allow the drivers to remotely control their vehicles.

TECHNOLOGYCore Technologies of Safety

Thorough Life Protector

Automotive safety technologies have evolved in response to dangerous situations while driving. Directly linked to the lives of passengers and pedestrians, safety assessment institutions such as the U.S. Highway Safety Insurance Association (IIHS) and the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) are raising safety standards for cars by creating harsher scenarios.

The IIHS Small Overlap Test has long been a challenge for premium automakers; it was to test for damage when The driver unintentionally turns the steering wheel in a frontal collision. Hyundai Motor Group has received superb ratings for annual Small Overlap Test for its optimized body structure design. The Group also has continued its research for restraint systems such as airbags, showcasing the world’s first high quality airbag technology. In addition, the company developed active/passive safety technologies that cover the safety of not only the passengers but also pedestrians regarding secondary accidents.

The reason it is difficult to develop safety features is that the safety standards set by each country around the world are all different and they are getting stricter every year. Automakers, therefore, are trying to not only enhance safety technologies to meet the global standards, but also make their own upgrades to strengthen its basic design structure through various tests and reviews.

1. Active Safety
Preventing Secondary Accident

MCB : Multi Collision Brake

Ordinarily, the driver loses control of his or her vehicle once an accident occurs. He or she may have lost consciousness; the car may have broken down, resisting driver control; external impact may veer the car in an unpredictable direction. Many variables can endanger the passenger after the first accident; the high fatality rate in secondary accidents owes to the existence of many such variables.

In a survey of highway accidents from 2013 to 2017 by the Korea Expressway Corporation, the fatality rate in secondary accidents amounted to 52.7%, over five times higher than the 9.1% recorded by ordinary accidents. The Multi-Collision Brake (MCB) System, a new tech that prevents secondary accidents, focuses on the situation immediately after the first accident, expanding the range covered by the term automotive safety.

Once the airbags get activated because of a collision and the MCB brings the vehicle to a halt, it reduces the chance of secondary collision. To handle this demand, the 3rd-gen Controller Area Network (CAN), a communication network internal to the car, can handle up to 200 megabytes of data per second.

MCB: Controllers and sensors triggered in sequence

The MCB system’s effectiveness in preventing secondary accidents is acknowledged in Europe as well. The European New Car Assessment Program (EuroNCAP), for example, gives one additional point to cars with the MCB system in its adult passenger protection crash test index. Another study by a renowned European car manufacturer also found that a car with MCB showed an 8% decrease in fatalities and a 4% decrease in severe injuries.

Predicting Danger

ADAS Safety Features

In the movie Minority Report are prophets who can see the future. When they tell people what will happen, the protagonists do their best to prevent them from happening. Just like the prophets in the movie, vehicles also have the technology, Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), to help avoid accidents.

The strength of this technology is that advanced sensors and controllers detect unrecognized hazards and helps avoid collisions. Front view camera, front radar and rear corner radars detects any movement around the vehicle. Then the computer identifies an emergency to warn the driver or automatically controls the vehicle to help avoid a collision.

The current ADAS technology can maintain the current lane or distance between other cars, read traffic signs on the road to slow down, or even sync to the navigation system to control the speed through every corner. The detailed features of ADAS are as follows.:

Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA)

Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist helps avoid collisions with objects in front of the vehicle while driving. If the preceding vehicle suddenly slows down, or if a forward collision risk is detected, such as a stopped vehicle or a pedestrian in front, FCA provides a warning.
After the warning, if the risk of collision increases, FCA automatically assists with emergency braking.

Lane Keeping Assist (LKA)

Lane Keeping Assist helps prevent the vehicle from departing the lane while driving. If driving above a certain speed and the driver leaves a lane without the turn signal switch being operated, LKA provides a warning. When a lane departure is detected, the system automatically assists with steering to help prevent leaving the lane.

Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA)

Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist helps avoid collisions with a rear side vehicle when changing lanes. When operating the turn signal switch to change lanes, if there is a risk of collision with a rear side vehicle, BCA provides a warning. After the warning, if the risk of collision increases, BCA automatically controls the vehicle to help avoid a collision.

2. Passive Safety
Swift & Accurate

Multi-collision Airbag System

Multi-collision accidents are those in which the primary impact is followed by collisions with secondary objects, such as trees, electrical posts or other vehicles. The airbag system responds more promptly during the secondary impact, thereby improving the safety of multi-collision vehicle occupants.

According to statistics by the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS), an office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in U.S., about 30% of 56,000 vehicle accidents from 2000 to 2012 in the North American region involved multi-collisions. The leading type of multi-collision accidents involved cars crossing over the center line (30.8%), followed by collisions caused by a sudden stop at highway tollgates (13.5%), highway median strip collisions (8.0%), and sideswiping and collision with trees and electric poles (4.0%).

When occupants are forced into unusual positions, the effectiveness of existing safety technology may be compromised. Current airbag systems do not offer secondary protection when the initial impact is insufficient to cause them to deploy. However, the multi-collision airbag system developed by Hyundai Motor Group allows airbags to deploy effectively upon a secondary impact by calibrating the status of the vehicle and the occupants. Multi-collision airbag systems are designed to deploy even faster when initial safety systems may not be effective, providing additional safety when drivers and passengers are most vulnerable. By recalibrating the collision intensity required for deployment, the airbag system responds more promptly during the secondary impact, thereby improving the safety of multi-collision vehicle occupants.

Minimizing Collisions Inside the Vehicle

Center Side Airbag

Unlike conventional airbags mitigating the damage between people and objects, multi-collision airbag systems such as the center-side airbag have been developed primarily to prevent collision between passengers. This new, additional airbag is installed inside the driver’s seat and expands into the space between driver and passenger seats to prevent injuries of passengers in the front row, or from hitting interior materials.

If there is no one in the front passenger seat, the center side airbag will protect the driver from side collision coming from hitting interior materials.

Hyundai Motor Group used the engineering technique called ‘the heat press folding’ and has applied this newly patented technology to maintain reliability – the Group has made  the airbag the lightest and the smallest in the world. The airbag has an internal component called ‘tether’ which allows the airbag to maintain its form and withstand the passenger’s weight. The company has developed a new technology to simplify the design and reduce the weight of produce in an airbag, which is about 50 percent lighter than competing products. Thanks to the smaller size of the airbag, the Group’s design teams will have more flexibility in the type of seat design they envision for future products.

Tethers and Chambers Hugging the Passengers

Hug Airbag

The purpose or shapes of airbags will change as the definition of a vehicle fluctuates. Especially, the way we use our cars will drastically change once fully autonomous driving technology gets commercialized. Fully autonomous cars may not be able to protect the occupants with conventional, fixed-type airbags because of the freely arranged seats.

Hug Airbag literally ‘hugs’ the passengers.

Hyundai Motor Group has recently unveiled its Hug Airbag, and it contains the hints of our future airbags. The Hug Airbag consists of three ‘chambers’; each chamber works differently depending on the location. The upper chamber is to protect the head and the chest of a passenger, and the lower chamber is to protect the pelvis. The center chamber, unlike other chambers, can bend over to protect the passenger from the back. Each chamber is firmly connected with a tether, and this is how Hug Airbag can hold the body tight in a crash. Researchers are trying to find the optimal way for each six camber to be docked in a tether.

Hyundai Motor Group has completed a total of seven patent applications in major countries including Korea. The technology is to optimize cushion structures and efficient internal/external tether structures while specifying the idea for completing the Hug Airbag. The company further plans to refine the technology so that it can be applied to level 4 or 5 autonomous cars.

Collision-Proof Body

Structure & Engineering

Automotive safety technology is directly related to the lives of passengers and pedestrians, so it requires detailed and thorough planning and design. In addition, the NCAP collision assessment standards are getting stricter as the importance of vehicle safety increases, hence the related technologies are evolving.

The body structure is important when it comes to developing related technology. The two structures – annular and sequential structures, which combine vertical with horizontal structures of the body like a ring to provide a firmer rigidity and reduce weight. In particular, the annular structure covering from the front body to the rear of the B pillar not only guarantees safety but also fuel efficiency with a lighter body.

Vertical and horizontal rails collide to form a closed circular structure similar to a skein to reinforce the structural rigidity and to add lightness to the chassis; 1) Energy absorption is generated if the vehicle collides off the front side member, 2) The fender apron serves to transfer the impact load, and 3) Impact load is transferred to the upper A-pillar and the remaining impact load is further dispersed.

The sequential-order structure absorbs the kinetic energy from a high-speed collision to protect all passengers. In order to effectively disperse the impact load in case of a side-impact collision, a bulkhead is attached to where the most energy impact may occur to maximize all occupants’ safety.

Aside from a rigid structure, a car body made with strong materials is another factor. Hot Stamping is a cost-efficient technology in which materials are heated to high temperatures and then simultaneously formed and rapidly cooled in molds to create high-strength – three to five times stronger – automobile parts. The technology ensures the safety of the cabin even during an inevitable accident.

Pedestrians First

Active Hood System

A vehicle with a protruding bumper can cause pedestrian accidents such as severe fractures or head injuries. To prevent such secondary accidents and to minimize the impact between the pedestrian and the vehicle, the active hood system along with the energy-absorbing bumper unveiled by Hyundai Motor Group raises the vehicle hood into an elevated position and reduces the bumper stiffness to ensure maximum pedestrian protection.

Active Hood System

The purpose of the pedestrian protection regulations getting stricter is to make pedestrians fall over the hood of the vehicle in the event of a collision. In general, most pedestrians will fall on the road when they get hit by a vehicle, possibly leading to a second accident with another vehicle. To prevent this, the Lower leg foam and Lower Stiffener minimize the knee injury of pedestrians in the event of a collision and keep pedestrians from falling under the vehicle after a collision to prevent a secondary collision.

Distributing Collision

Multi-Load Path Structure of the 3rd-gen Platform

The 3rd-generation Platform effectively absorbs/distributes collision energy.

The essence of collision safety is how effectively the body structure could absorb and distribute the enormous energy from a collision. Automakers have poured their hearts to develop a proper body structure – Hyundai Motor Group’s third-generation platform has been designed to minimize the energy moving to passengers by efficiently distributing collision energy in the engine room.

This is why it is important to absorb and disperse the collision energy at the front part of the vehicle; when an accident occurs, the driver unintentionally turns the steering wheel. Then, the edge of the vehicle gets all the energy from the impact, letting the vehicle and the passengers get damaged seriously as the impact solely penetrates the body through the corner without being absorbed.

As the impact is concentrated on the corner, the energy is delivered to the A-pillar supporting the vehicle, and when it collapses, the dashboard, tires, and the engine will hit the front seats, causing serious disasters.

Multi-Load Path Structure

Hyundai Motor Group has developed a multi-load path structure—an important element of the new platform’s evolution. This structural design diversifies the pathway of shock loads upon crash, improving the efficiency of shock absorption and minimizing the impact felt by the passenger. The crux of the change is the sharp-shaped(#) structure to absorb the impact by connecting the side member, subframe, and the fender apron. The new, broadened subframe resists the shock with high stiffness and more stably distributes loads through enhanced connection with the side member and the surrounding structure.

Slide-Away Motion minimizes the deceleration rate, reducing passenger injury greatly.

The Multi Load Path Structure gave birth to the Slide-Away Motion; it contains a technology that controls slide-away motion when the first accident occurs, literally moving the vehicle a little in the same direction as the impact came from. It reduces passenger injury and greatly reduces secondary accidents by maintaining the direction.