Continental's Child-Presence Detection via Ultra-Wideband to Reduce Child Fatalities in Vehicles


As the automotive landscape races towards newer and newer advancements, keeping vehicle passengers – particularly children – safeguarded is more crucial than ever. Tech improvements are great, but passenger safety should always be front and center.

As vehicles (i.e. traditional, various autonomous vehicles and EVs) integrate more tech, prioritizing in-vehicle safety measures is key. Child monitoring systems, smart seatbelts, driver alerts, you name it; without safe passengers, whether they’re kids or adults, focus shouldn’t be dedicated anywhere else until the former is assured.

Enter Continental Corporation USA and its focus on advanced safety technologies for vehicle drivers and passengers, no matter the destination. Recently, Continental made an official expansion to its digital access system (CoSmA) via the potentially life-saving Child-Presence Detection (CPD) function.

“We were first to market with the ultra-wideband for digital vehicle access. Now we can utilize this same technology to potentially save children’s lives by detecting if they were left behind in a vehicle,” said David Muscat, Segment Chief Engineer, Architecture and Networking Business Area, Continental North America. “Thus, an innovative product – one that began with convenience in mind – now has life-saving capabilities built in.”

According to Continental, in-car temperatures can reach upwards of 100°F within half an hour. This threatens the well-being of young children left behind in vehicles; per a combined research report from University of Georgia and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 40 children per year in the U.S. tragically die from heat strokes while left in vehicles.

That’s unquestionably heartbreaking. Hence, Continental’s new CPD safety push.

The CPD function uses, as Muscat mentioned, ultra-wideband (UWB) technology that can prevent such tragedies down the road. CPD monitors a vehicle’s cabin and is able to detect when a vulnerable passenger is left alone and can send out a warning within mere seconds. Per Continental, the function “also addresses manufacturers’ needs to meet in-cabin safety targets in anticipation of the upcoming Euro NCAP safety rating and U.S. regulations, which are striving for new child safety requirements in the vehicle by 2025.”

In the case of lost or stolen keys (especially while a young one is stuck in a vehicle), CPD also enables drivers to use their smartphones (or other paired devices) as an on-the-fly car key in the case of emergencies.

More gets factored into how CPD works, too; this includes its UWB system’s “reflective mode” that transmits signals when micro-motions inside a space are detected. Even the tiniest of motions (down to irregular movements of a child’s chest while breathing) can be detected. Unique respiration rates and micro-body movements being scanned can even detect if infants and small children have shifted from safe seated positions, or if they become covered by a blanket or are hidden in a cabin-footwell.

Overall, this Continental solution, in Muscat’s words, “combines modern functionality with the highest regards of safety, and we’re proud to be on the cutting edge of future safety requirements and breakthroughs.”

Edited by Greg Tavarez
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