Livonia’s TRW Steers Toward Autonomous Vehicles

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An upgraded version of Livonia-based TRW Automotive’s lane keeping assist or LKA technology — which uses a video camera sensor to prevent vehicles from unintentionally leaving a traffic lane — has gone into production for the first time on two vehicle platforms in the European market.

The upgraded version of the company’s LKA system allows the steering to be controlled more closely, and “coaches” the driver to steer the vehicle back to the center of the lane rather than automatically repositioning the wheel.

“We’ve made the upgrades to give it a better steering feel,” says Andy Whydell of product planning at TRW Electronics. The original version of the company’s LKA system is available in the United States, specifically in the most recent Jeep Cherokee, however Whydell says he is unsure of when the updated technology will be offered in the U.S.

Originally, the technology was offered as an add-on option, available for about $500 on average, it’s becoming more common for manufacturers to make it standard on top level vehicles. However, the technology is starting to trickle down to the masses, Whydell says.

“We’re really seeing camera technology grow quickly,” Whydell says. “It’s moving down from luxury import cars into the family car market, like compact cars and midsize SUVs. It’s really becoming quite widespread.”

Whydell says the technology is the first step towards a full lane centering system where the electric power steering system will help keep the driver in the center of the lane at all times. “Such technologies are starting to form the basis for semi-automated driving functionality,” he says.

In 2012, TRW Automotive reported sales of $16.4 billion. Through its subsidiaries, the company operates in 25 countries with approximately 65,000 employees worldwide.

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