Author Archives: Pronobis-Szczylik Juliusz

BMW new eye-tracking system

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Image result for bmw eye tracking

Recently, BMW has been working on reducing the risk of a car accident and the have come up with a brilliant idea – a device mounted in the vehicle that tracks driver’s eyes to make sure that he is focused on the road.

The device has an infrared camera that is constantly monitoring the eyes of the person sitting behind the wheel. When it notices, that the driver got distracted from being focused on the road, it quickly indicates to look back on the road by lighting a red diode on the steering which is followed by a gentle chime. But if the device sees no interaction from the driver, it could even perform an emergency stop. In case of a crash, the camera records the last couple of seconds to make the investigation about the crash easier.

Engineers of this invention have thought everything through – even if you are wearing glasses, polarized sunglasses etc., the device is still going to be able to monitor where you look.

Actually, I’m starting to feel a bit invigilated.. but BMW claims, that “BMW’s approach to self-driving systems is not about taking away the driving experience, but augmenting it with technology, X5 product manager Michael Baxley told Automotive News.” – fair enough, I guess that time is going to answer this question.

The Bose automotive suspension

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I bet that none of you has heard about the Bose suspension, even if you are a person who is interested in cars and consider yourself a car enthusiast. Bose brand is well known for the speakers and headphones they produce, but these products are not the only stuff that Bose is working on.

Normally, the car is suspended on traditional metal springs or in some cases, on-air bellows (commonly known as pneumatic suspension). But Bose suspension is something totally different from what we’ve seen so far – it’s constantly monitoring the road with its sensors and cameras to transmit the signal to engines mounted it the suspension.

Image result for bose suspension

There are no shock absorbers in this case because the little motors do all the work on their own (rebound and damping). In a human language, it generally means that with such a revolutionary suspension, while driving a car, you won’t feel any potholes. The car would be floating like a boat, just take a look at the short movie clip:

Unfortunately, the Bose suspension project died, because the whole system was too heavy, too expensive and had poor maintenance. It’s a shame, because yet no car is close to being so comfortable and hi-tech, not even a Rolls-Royce.

But rumour has it, that Audi car company is working now on improving the suspension in their flagship models to work in a similar way as the setup mentioned above, fingers crossed!

Carbon ceramic brake rotors

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In the car industry, there are two types of brake rotors – steel discs and ceramic ones. I’m going to guide you through the differences between those two types of the braking system.

Steel discs are used mostly in regular cars made for masses. Heavy, weak heat dissipation and they wear quickly. But they’re cheap, and that is what car manufacturers care about the most.

Image result for porsche brake caliper
Carbon-ceramic discs are used mostly in sports performance or racing cars. They give away the heat very quickly and heat up slowly. Brakes temperature is very important, because when brakes overheat then they lose their efficiency very drastically. Also, carbon brakes are very light, which transfers directly on the unsprung weight. In performance cars, it is very important for the tire to have constant contact with the road to increase the handling. Simple – more road contact equals better handling.

Image result for carbon ceramic brakes
But ceramic brakes have issues as well. They need a very high temperature to operate and they are extremely expensive. The first problem has been easily solved by programming cars computer to constantly clench the brakes in order to warm them up. Unfortunately, the second problem is inevitable due to the high price of resources which are needed to produce ceramic brakes.

Maybe someone is going to invent a cheaper alternative for ceramic brakes, but yet nothing seems like something is happening about that.

LPG (liquified petroleum gas) in cars

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Converting fuel system in cars to LPG is very popular, especially in eastern Europe (Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey etc.) This happens due to obvious reasons – money. Depending on the country and its taxes on petrol, LPG is in most cases even two times cheaper than conventional gas – petrol or diesel.

Image result for lpg w aucie
There are a lot of myths about LPG used in cars, and most of them claim that generally, this system is very unhealthy for a car’s engine. In fact, all those myths are false and all of them were born only because of the wrong installation of the LPG system in the car or of lack of knowledge about keeping the maintenance of this system. Also, the technology of LPG installation has changed drastically and nowadays, the 6th generation of this system is very advanced and has eliminated any issues of its predecessors.

It is known, that LPG as a substance is dryer and has a higher temperature during explosion than petrol and what most people think is that it leads to worse lubrication of the engine’s internals or to overheating of the powering unit. In fact, the lubrication problem has been solved by developing a new type of engine oil which has increased its lubricating functions and the temperature issue is easily solved by regulating the AFR (air-fuel ratio sucked in by the engine. Leaner fuel ratio means lower temperature and richer air ratio means higher temperature). The solution is easy, just increase the fuel ratio to decrease the AFR. There is one more myth, which claims that LPG is taking away power from engines, but this theory is just a leftover after ancient LPG installations which were functioning totally different than present units

So, summarizing. LPG has nearly no bad properties, it’s bad reputation generally comes from lack of knowledge or incorrect maintenance of the gas installation

Headlight range control in present cars

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Let’s begin with mentioning headlight types used in all cars that we usually see during the day. The first one, and still the most popular are:
Halogen headlights – The cheapest ones and obviously the least effective. Basically, it’s just a bulb placed in a reflector.

Image result for a6 c7 halogen headlights
Xenon headlights – One step higher over halogen system. The traditional bulb is replaced with a xenon filament which transfers the light through a glass lens. Unlike Halogen lights, xenons emit a different, colder colour.

Image result for a6 c7 xenon headlights
LED/Laser headlights – Currently the best and most advanced solution. The filament is replaced with a LED light. This creates new possibilities in upgrading headlights with new features.

Image result for a6 c7 matrix headlights
But back to the topic. After the new type of headlight was released (xenon lights), engineers realized that the beam is too strong. The government found that out quickly as well, so changes had to be done in order not to blind other drivers while driving the car. From that moment no car could be produced with xenon lights without the changes in the car imposed by the government. The changes are simple, yet for a car manufacturer, it’s a challenge because cars are designed to be as cheap in production as it’s possible.

So let’s begin with the first change – Headlight washers. Because of the dirt that is building up on the headlight during driving the light beam is beginning to distract. This can lead to blinding other road users, so in case of xenon lights headlight washers are mandatory to clean the lights and prevent them from blinding others

Second change – Automatic headlight levelling. I’ll give an example: You want to go for holidays, you pack your car with everything you need and the result is, that due to heavy load on the rear axle the back of the car is lower than the front of the car. Since the headlights are fixed to the car, when they aim higher, they blind others. The automatic headlight levelling system is responsible for adjusting headlights automatically

The differences between cars made for specific domestic markets

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Image result for car markets

To me, it’s a very interesting topic, which surely is unnoticed and underestimated by everyone who is daily driving a car.

You may think, that your VW golf is just about the same as the one, that is sold in Russia, USA, China and so on. Ok, from a visual point of view, they do look nearly the same. Nearly, because for example in the USA a specific size of a blinker is mandated, as well as side contour lights or back up camera. But for someone who is not fitted into cars, these differences are unnoticeable and that is why I used the phrase “nearly”.

But “under the hood” cars from different markets have a lot of different or redesigned parts and in some cases, the cars are totally different. Let’s take the Abarth 500 for an example. The European version of this car is based on a fiat panda, has a 1.4 “t-jet” engine, while the US version is based on an all-new platform, with a different version of the 1.4 engine, called “multiair”. Not only the chassis is different, but also parts like wishbones, sway bars, wheel hubs, interior parts, bumper, exhaust system, blinkers, headlights etc. basically, the only parts these two cars share are: brakes, windows, fenders, trunk lid and hood.

US version

Image result for us volkswagen golf

EU version

Image result for blue volkswagen golf 6 r
But back to the VW golf.
Let’s set the polish version of the Golf as a default which I’m going to compare to Golf’s from other markets.
As we all know, the temperature in Africa is usually slightly higher than in Poland. Obviously, engineers are aware of that as well. And since car components are strictly designed to work under specific conditions, changes had to be made. The radiator in African golf is bigger, to prevent the engine from overheating. On to another example – Russia. A lot of potholes in roads. Conclusion? tougher and more durable suspension. China – problems with pollution. Solution? More emission – strict exhaust system. The USA? The air condition unit is more efficient. There is even a joke in the automotive environment, that when a car in the USA is developed, engineers first build the AC and then build the rest of the car around it.
Audi dealt with this problem very easily. Simply, the car’s computer is programmed to blow cooler air into the car. (fun fact, in Audi’s a6 official specification data there is a sentence (it’s a real quote, actually) “US domestic cars air condition works somewhat cooler”. Nice one, Audi

I know, that not everybody is interested in cars, but I think that sometimes it’s worth it to admire all the effort put into making cars more comfortable, even if we won’t notice it. It’s amazing, and thrilling that there’s so much about cars that we’re not even aware of. All the effort being made just to make the car feel better. And yet, nearly nobody notices it

MHV technology

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Image result for audi  mild hybrid

MHV (mild-hybrid vehicle) is an all-new technology, introduced on the market by Audi motor company. It is often confused with an already well known hybrid powertrain. Below I’ll explain how both powertrains work so that you can understand why a mild hybrid system is so good and efficient.
So basically, the traditional hybrid system has two types of engines – an internal combustion engine (petrol, diesel, LPG etc.) and an electric motor. Both engines are working 50/50, a mostly electric motor is working at lower speeds while the gas engine is working at higher speeds. This is a good system, but it’s very simple and outdated.
Mild hybrid, from the technical point of view, is something different. You could say that MHV also has two engines, but this time the internal combustion engine plays the main role, while the electric motor is only a support. I know, support may sound like not much, but there is a way more into it.

Image result for audi  mild hybrid
So, the electric engine in the MHV is the starter itself. While the traditional starter has only one function, which is starting up the engine. In MHV it also plays a role of an engine which is supporting the gas engine (in most of new Audi vehicles it is an addition of approximately 40 hp), an alternator which is charging the 48v battery while coasting (when a vehicle is moving but the gas pedal is depressed). Also, the battery is supplying the electric turbocharger, which increases the power of the engine. Generally speaking, the starter is a multi-purpose device which increases the performance of many components. It is a revolutionary invention in the automotive world.
Take a look at an educational movie made by Audi: