Automated driving and mobility solutions such as car-sharing and fleet services call for innovative vehicle access systems, as conventional vehicle keys will cease to be adequate for the mobility concepts of the future. That is why Continental has expanded its Smart Access solution for convenient vehicle access via smartphone to offer drivers a complete package of services. With the technology company’s new emergency unlocking solution, users can gain access to their vehicle even if the car battery is flat – and can do so completely digitally, without having to resort to the mechanical emergency key. In combination with the Continental Smart Access system, the entire door is intelligent, which means that it opens and closes independently. “The intelligent door is a milestone in access technology, as for the first time, we can offer users an all-round package for hands-free and digital operation, from unlocking the car and opening the door to starting the engine. With it, we are enabling an even more convenient and secure driving experience for drivers and offering more design freedom to manufacturers,” explains Andreas Wolf, head of Continental’s Body & Security business unit.
Access to the vehicle, even when the battery is dead, thanks to a digital key
Until now when a car battery ran out drivers had to fall back on the mechanical emergency key and a manual door lock to get into their vehicles and open the hood. The emergency unlocking technology from Continental will render this unnecessary in the future. It does so by using buffered energy from the door control unit, which is sufficient to allow the door to be unlocked once more.
This automatic emergency unlocking system is activated by means of NFC technology, such as via a smartphone, which transmits the signal following a successful security check and automatically triggers the unlocking process for the door. This means more convenience for users, as they no longer need a mechanical key, even for emergencies. It also opens up more design freedom for carmakers, as they no longer have to develop a conventional key with a blade and can dispense entirely with the emergency lock in the door. In combination with the automatic door opener, even the entire door handle will become obsolete, which offers more options for the exterior design, whilst simultaneously improving the vehicle’s aerodynamic resistance.
Ensuring that not only the emergency lock but also the entire door handle is surplus to requirements, Continental has integrated an assistant function into the intelligent door. “Electronically controlled doors enable convenient, hands-free operation. Our security and control algorithms make sure that you can open and close the vehicle door securely and easily,” explains Wolf.
How Smart Access and the virtual key work
Smart Access enables convenient vehicle access via a smartphone. The system centers on the virtual key, which is saved to a mobile end device. This key, which consists of a tamper-proof data record, gains access only after successful one-time authentication by the back end, which sends it to the smartphone via a wireless interface. Further communication takes place exclusively between the smartphone and the vehicle.
For this purpose, the system uses multiple Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or NFC transceiver modules, located in the vehicle, to enable the authorized smartphone to be located both from inside and from outside. As soon as an authorized virtual key is detected, the system issues permission to open the vehicle and start the engine. Therefore, there is no longer any need for a mechanical key.
Continental will present the intelligent door at the International Motor Show Germany (IAA) in Frankfurt am Main (Hall 5.1, Stand A07/A08) in September.