March 20, 2018 – As the car industry evolves, DENSO turns toward new technologies
DENSO’s North American Thermal Systems division occupies the largest facility in Fort Custer Industrial Park, more than 1,380,000 square feet of floor space over six buildings.
The facility makes air conditioning and engine cooling components for new cars. It seems like an area that wouldn’t be impacted much by moves by its parent company toward work in driverless cars and ridesharing.
But as cars become more automated and ridesharing more popular, multi-zone heating and cooling starts becoming a factor to consider.
“If you don’t have to face a steering wheel, where should air vents be placed?” is one question posited by Steve Milam, CEO of DENSO Thermal Systems North American Center.
“Imagine a future when you’re sharing a vehicle with a stranger,” Milam said. “Each of you will want control of your own space and temperature. So we’re working now on the research and development to anticipate those needs and develop innovative solutions. Thermal products do not create the disruption by new mobility models, but thermal products are certainly impacted by the disruption. We will continue to innovate new solutions as mobility continues to change.”
“When we’re talking about drivers, it is important to monitor the emotional state of the person, like if they get angry,” said Kayvan Najarian, a professor of computational medicine and bioinformatics at the university and the faculty member supervising the project.
“There are different things one can do with knowledge of the emotional state of the person,” he added. “The car can play music, do something to help the mood of the occupant of the car, whether the person is bored or angry or something. Some intervention can be made.”
That’s all theoretical, of course. The project itself doesn’t deal with what happens after the predictions are made, just on developing the system that can predict those emotions in the first place. Najarian said he hasn’t talked to DENSO about the company’s plans for the system once it has been completed.
To read the full article, originally published in the Battle Creek Enquirer, click on the title link.