ough severe winter weather this year influenced the statistic, the main reason for breakdowns has got to be the growing number of electrical components found in modern cars – components that provide more safety, efficiency and comfort. Few motorists today, for example, would think of taking a trip to an unfamiliar destination without the aid of a navigation system. All this compounds the need to monitor batteries more closely, the only way to ensure that motorists receive prompt notice of, say, an aging battery that is likely to cause a breakdown.
Since 2008, international automotive supplier Continental has been making a small sensor that can provide assistance – the Intelligent Battery Sensor (IBS). “About the size of a matchbox, our intelligent battery sensor monitors critical parameters. It can be used in combination with any standard battery, which means that we can greatly reduce the number of battery-related breakdowns, despite the rising number of electrical components at work in the electrical system”, explains Dr. Lutz Kühnke, Head of the Advanced Sensors & Satellites (ASAT) segment of the Continental Chassis & Safety Division.
Small sensor, big impact – the Intelligent Battery Sensor (IBS)
The IBS continually analyzes the status of conventional 12-volt lead-acid batteries and provides information on such key parameters as the state-of-charge, state-of-function (power ability) and state-of-health (aging) of the battery. The sensor is thus essential to reliable operation of automotive start-stop systems. The IBS informs a higher level control unit, such as the engine control unit, whether there is sufficient energy left in the battery, thus ensuring that the engine can be automatically shut off and cranked again. It also supports that electrical devices such as the radio or the ventilation fan continue to operate during the stop phase.
The IBS is mounted directly onto the battery and fits exactly into the niche around the negative terminal. This means that it can be deployed with any standard battery. In addition to being able to monitor the battery, the IBS also helps to detect defective electronic components in the car, thanks to its monitoring of the key-off current. The sensor enhances the automobile’s diagnostic ability and can thus warn of possible breakdowns that may not even be caused by the battery. Moreover, the IBS helps extend battery life by 10 to 20 percent via an improved charging strategy.
Engineers at Continental are working on a high-voltage current sensor for the lithium-ion high-voltage batteries used in hybrid and electric vehicles. “Whereas a battery in a car with an internal combustion engine is relatively inexpensive, it can easily account for one-fourth of the cost of an electric vehicle. Permanent monitoring and optimization of battery life is therefore a must. Our high-voltage current sensor represents a ready-made solution. By measuring the current exactly, it provides information on the charge level and protects the battery, thanks to a separate overcurrent monitoring”, says Dr. Bernhard Klumpp, Executive Vice President of the Passive Safety & Sensorics Business Unit of the Continental Chassis & Safety Division.
Fewer breakdowns thanks to intelligent networking
As cars become increasingly linked, both internally and with their surroundings, drivers will experience fewer and fewer breakdowns. Vehicles will be able to recognize more and more defects themselves and will report those defects to drivers in timely fashion – via the instrument cluster or via an app on a smartphone. Drivers can then make an appointment directly with a garage and the garage can make sure that the necessary spare parts are on hand. The end result is fewer frazzled nerves and greater safety on the road.