Cost-effective airbag control unit from Bosch

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AB light goes into series production

–    Airbag control unit for low-price vehicles
–    Compact and cost-effective design
–    Up to eight loops and two sensor interfaces
–    Series start with Dongfeng Motor Corporation models

Bosch is extending its airbag control unit portfolio with an economy model. The new “AB light” has been specially developed for low-price vehicles, which are rapidly becoming a common sight in emerging markets such as China, India, and Brazil. The model is based on a standardised control unit concept, and offers favourably priced occupant protection. Series production is about to start in Suzhou, China, for Dongfeng Motor Corporation models.

In the 1990s, the danger of being fatally injured in a car accident in Europe was twice as high as it was in 2008. Airbags have made a major contribution to this positive development. Front airbags have therefore been standard in industrialised countries for several years now, and are often supplemented with side airbags and seat-belt pretensioners. These passive safety systems are considerably less common in emerging markets, where most of the cars on the road fall into the mini- and subcompact classes. Bosch expects sharply rising demand here, as, in coming years these markets and segments in particular will grow significantly. Standardised crash tests from various organisations, as well as legal requirements, will also help to make these systems more prevalent. In Brazil and Argentina, for example, regulations stipulating front airbags and ABS for passenger cars and light trucks from 2014 onwards were adopted in 2009. “Restraint systems significantly increase the safety of low-price vehicles,” says Dr. Werner Struth, president of the Bosch Chassis Systems Control division. “AB light supports the objective of making airbags standard worldwide, and consequently therefore of making safety available to all.”

The control unit’s standardised design and the use of internally developed application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) enabled Bosch engineers to significantly reduce the number of components, and therefore the overall size. The basic version offers four loops (trigger circuits), which can be extended up to eight, including two sensor interfaces. The housing is made completely of plastic, and the connector has 32 pins. AB light supplements the AB base and AB enhanced models already available.

AB light is one example of the broad range of Bosch products for low-price vehicles. This stretches from cost-effective injection systems for gasoline and diesel engines to starters, alternators, and brakes. The secret of the company’s success with these products is a combination of extensive know-how and local presence. The Bosch Chassis Systems Control division, for example, started local production of brake control systems in Brazil in 2007 and in India in 2009.

Bosch has extensive experience in the safety systems area: it provided the world’s first airbag control unit, which was subsequently used in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class in 1980. The company also excels in the development of active safety systems. Production of the ABS antilock braking system started in 1978, and of the ESP® electronic stability program in 1995. Both systems intervene early on in critical situations, and help to prevent accidents happening in the first place.