Plymouth Township’s Hella to Develop Seating Technology for Autonomous Vehicles


Hella, a global automotive supplier with its North American headquarters in Plymouth Township, is developing technology that will fold or unfold an SUV’s rear seats at the push of a button, integrate ambient lighting into vehicle seating, and lock or unlock turntable seats in autonomous vehicles.

Working with its locations in Xiamen, China, and Lippstadt, Germany, Hella’s semi-automated seat architecture under development is designed meet a variety of future market needs created by the growth of megacities, aging populations, the popularity of SUVs, and interest in the development of automated vehicles.

“Semi-automated seating architecture will allow auto makers to reduce complexity and the cost of easy-entry seating, backrest adjustments, interior lighting, and a host of other luxury and safety-related seating features,” says Gary Hawkins, vice president of Program Management for Hella. “We fully expect a variety of driver-assistance, ambient-lighting and health functions will be integrated into car seats in the future.”

Hella Electronics Corp. in Plymouth Township will have global responsibility for the overall development of semi-automated seat architecture with global design responsibility for electronic control units in the U.S. Hella locations in China and Europe will be responsible for the design of actuators, sensors, and interior lighting.

Further development of the existing architecture is being overseen by the Lippstad location’s product planners and development engineers and will expand the architecture offering to include features that will help adjust backrests, rotate seats, move entire rows of seats, and more.

Germany-based Hella has provided automakers and suppliers with more than 35 million actuators, sensors, and electronic control units for a variety of seating applications and system solutions over the past 15 years. The company, which has around 34,000 employees at over 125 locations in more than 35 countries, expects an annual growth rate of 10 percent or more for luxury seating features in compact and mid-size vehicles.

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