With more and more vehicles on the road comes a greater potential for accidents. Technology designed for in-vehicle safety (i.e. back-up cameras, crash avoidance systems) offers significant preventative measures but accidents do – and will – still happen. That’s where technology such as eCall (emergency call) comes on the scene.

A vehicle equipped with an eCall module (or eCall system) can enable automatic transmission of GPS coordinates of the vehicle/driver in case of an emergency like a car accident. It will also allow the driver and/or passengers to contact an emergency service center to ask for help (such as medical assistance) and communicate other critical information. This system operates off a backup battery system so it can function even if the accident destroys the car battery.

This infogram from Europe’s largest automobile club ADAD (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club) shows how a motorist can benefit from an eCall-equipped vehicle.

 

According to the Transport Research Library’s 2011 research, implementing eCall could potentially result in a 40 percent improvement in response time in urban areas and a 50 percent improvement in rural areas. In a European Commissions’ study titled “Impact Assessment of EU wide eCall implementation,” a comparison of in-vehicle safety technologies showed that eCall ranked just after Electronic Stability Control (ECS). (see table)

In an effort to increase road safety and vastly improve emergency response time, Europe and Russia plan to implement regulation to mandate eCall by 2015 and 2014 respectively. This means every car (light passenger vehicle) from MY14 and MY15 will need eCall system. All car makers (OEMs) selling in these regions will need to abide by this law. Some estimate that older car models may be retro-fitted with after-market versions as opposed to an OEM installing them to comply with the proposed new regulation..

As with any efforts at standardization, there are always challenges. The EU Commission would like to regulate eCall for all countries in the European Union. As you can imagine, the diversity of mobile/3G/4G networks, carriers, government organizations, car makers, and emergency service centers across multiple countries makes regulation difficult. The good news is that discussions are ongoing.

GM’s OnStar service, for instance, is a roadside assistance service that the vehicle owner pays for. Installation of the OnStar module is normally within the rear view mirror. A satellite connects the module to a GM service center. It offers the driver services like navigation, recommendations on nearby places of interest and assistance in case of an accident or vehicle malfunction. Other luxury car-makers like BMW, Volvo, PSA also offer similar emergency assistance systems on their vehicles.. An eCall-standard implementation could replace the emergency assistance function of these proprietary systems.

TI offers a complete reference design comprised of AEC-Q100-qualified analog ICs  and embedded processing components. This reference design features theTAS5421-Q1, TI’s mono Class D audio amplifier with automotive load dump protection and full I2C diagnostics, the TPS43330-Q1, low Iq, single boost, dual synchronous buck controller It is scalable for other automotive applications, as well, such as telematics, stolen vehicle tracking andEV sound generation. It also incorporates the TPS7A1601-Q1 voltage regulator with low quiescent current and the MSP430F2232 16-bit ultra-low power microcontroller. You can download the reference design HERE, and learn more about  TI’s eCall solutions.

 

Related resources

  • Search for answers to your automotive questions in the Automotive Applications forum.
  • Learn more about TI’s automotive eCall and telematics technology by watching the demonstration video below