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TRL develops eCall specifications ahead of 2018 roll-out

Date: 10 November 2015   |   Author: Daniel Puddicombe

The UK's Transport Research Laboratory has developed proposals for the type-approval of eCall in-vehicle systems on behalf of the European Commission, ahead of a mandatory European-wide roll-out on new cars 2018.

eCall is designed to automatically phone 112 - the European-wide emergency phone number - in the event of a serious road accident to communicate a vehicle's location and data - including the time of an incident and the direction the vehicle is facing - to the emergency services.

eCall is automatically activated when in-vehicle sensors detect a crash, and will send details of the accident to rescue services. It is also possible to manually trigger the device by pushing a button in the vehicle.

It is estimated that eCall will speed up response times by 40% in urban areas and 50% in the countryside, while reducing the number of fatalities by 4%.

As part of the proposals, TRL developed the technical requirements and test procedures for the systems, to ensure that the eCall devices work as intended, even after a large collision.

TRL developed test requirements for seven technical aspects including the resistance of eCall systems to severe crashes (using a sled test), the crash resistance of the audio equipment, how the auto-triggering mechanism works, and how the systems will protect data.

TRL used twelve units for experiments in the sled test element, which set out to measure the mechanical resistance of eCall systems to severe crashes at accelerations up to 100g. These units included the telematics control module containing the printed circuit board, a SIM card holder and SIM card, capacitors and other electronic components.

"The results of the tests enabled us to develop stringent, but practical, test procedures for eCall systems. This will ensure that poor system designs, which could jeopardise the safety of road users, will not be allowed onto the European market," said Matthias Seidl, senior vehicle safety researcher at TRL.

"The results can also be used to help shape the technical discussions at an international level in order to ensure that the same level of protection is provided to road users around the world. In fact, the suggested European standards have also been proposed to the United Nations working group on automatic emergency call systems," he added.