Nexteer and Continental Joint Venture CNXMotion Develops Brake-to-Steer Technology

3 December 2020

Leveraging technology building blocks from its parent companies Nexteer Automotive and Continental, CNXMotion announces Brake-to-Steer (BtS) – a technology that provides driver safety through an additional layer of directional control for highly automated and autonomous vehicles.

In highly automated vehicle applications, steering systems feature multiple protective layers to ensure the steering safety net is always on. In addition, BtS adds yet another layer by using the electronic brake system to safely steer the vehicle while simultaneously controlling its speed. In a fully autonomous vehicle with no steering wheel present, BtS will negotiate a commanded path until a safe pull-over can be achieved.

"Perhaps the most critical challenge in highly automated and autonomous driving is ensuring the robustness of system redundancies to keep drivers, passengers and road users safe," explained Alan Davis, general manager of CNXMotion. "CNXMotion's Brake-to-Steer technology offers another steering safety layer for a wide range of automated driving conditions."

CNXMotion's BtS technology offers a cost-effective way for automakers to achieve safety needs by leveraging the vehicle's existing braking and steering systems.

"As we progress toward higher levels of automation in vehicles, secondary and tertiary redundancy becomes crucial in executing successful minimum risk maneuvers. This helps keep vehicle occupants and road users safe," said Hiren Desai, Head of Strategy, Autonomous Mobility and Safety, Continental North America. "Cross-domain functionalities such as Brake-to-Steer are enabled by, and housed on, existing hardware, like Continental's MKCx brake-by-wire systems, eliminating the need for additional, costly components."

"While steering traditionally manages the lateral control of a vehicle, Brake-to-Steer enables braking to contribute to lateral control as well," said Robin Milavec, Senior Vice President, Executive Board Director, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), Nexteer Automotive. "When combined with advanced steering systems like Nexteer's High Availability Electric Power Steering or Steer-by-Wire, Brake-to-Steer gives an additional layer of redundancy – further enhancing the safety net."

How Brake-to-Steer Works
The BtS function resides in the Motion Control System (MCS), which acts as an intermediary between the vehicle's path planner (the automated driving system) and the actuators (steering, brakes and powertrain) to determine the best path forward.

Integrated with a Performance Manager, the vehicle's intended path is compared to the system's ability to steer the vehicle via BtS, while constantly negotiating the safest route ahead.

In the event that BtS needs to engage, BtS reacts in one of three ways:  

  • Continues on the intended path before ultimately moving to the first or second option,
  • Performs a minimum risk maneuver, such as slowing and braking to steer the vehicle to the side of the road, or
  • Stops in the lane.

Originally developed for steering redundancy in Level 4+ autonomy, the feature can be adapted to assist a driver in multiple scenarios for lower levels (Lane Keep, Obstacle Avoidance, etc.) while a driver is still present, following the intentions provided from the driver's steering input.

ABOUT CNXMOTION (Pronounced: Con-nex-motion)
CNXMotion was established as a joint venture between Continental and Nexteer Automotive in 2017 to innovate motion control solutions for advanced applications and accelerate R&D activities for the parent companies. CNXMotion employs about 30 people in its state-of-the-art facility located in Grand Blanc, Michigan.

Nexteer and Continental hold an equal 50-50 percent ownership position in the joint venture. CNXMotion focuses on R&D activities, including rapid evaluation, design and prototyping. Capitalizing on Continental and Nexteer's history of innovation and leadership in advanced braking and steering respectively, the joint venture combines global resources and expertise to deliver advanced motion control systems solutions for the challenges in a quickly evolving mobility landscape.

Continental develops pioneering technologies and services for sustainable and connected mobility of people and their goods. Founded in 1871, the technology company offers safe, efficient, intelligent, and affordable solutions for vehicles, machines, traffic and transportation. In 2019, Continental generated sales of €44.5 billion and currently employs more than 233,000 people in 59 countries and markets.

Nexteer Automotive (HK 1316), a global leader in intuitive motion control, is a multi-billion dollar global steering and driveline business delivering electric and hydraulic power steering systems, steering columns, driveline systems, as well as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving enabling technologies for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The company has 27 manufacturing plants, three technical centers and 13 customer service centers strategically located in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. The company serves more than 60 customers in every major region of the world including BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, GM, PSA Groupe, Toyota and VW, as well as automakers in India and China.