Whether electromobility, autonomous driving or smart traffic apps – future mobility calls for innovative technologies. Even if it’s not immediately apparent – products from Merck offer the automotive industry entirely new possibilities and can help to make future mobility more sustainable, efficient and smarter. Read about it here yourself!
Just recently, automakers presented their latest models and findings at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany. The direction was clear: the car of the future is going to be electric and digital. With the automotive industry in the midst of one of the greatest transformations in its history, this year’s IAA attracted a lot of attention.
Above all climate change and digitalization have fundamentally altered our expectations of mobility. Future mobility – and above all car driving – must not only be practical and efficient, but also sustainable and smart. New types of drive such as the electric motor, autonomous vehicles, car sharing, and new mobility services are in the process of fundamentally changing the way we will get from A to B in the future.
To manage the change and meet the new demands for sustainability, connectivity and design, the automotive industry relies on innovative technologies. And Merck provides these as well. Something that not everyone may know is that our portfolio includes numerous innovative solutions that modern cars would be inconceivable without – whether materials for microchip production, OLED materials or liquid crystals.
Design meets function
Today’s cars are high-performance computers on four wheels. For example, the central driver assistance system of the Audi A8 already has more computing power than the control unit of the Eurofighter combat aircraft. Apart from their function in providing drive assistance, today’s board computers also serve as information displays, GPS devices and multimedia systems. That’s why displays are becoming increasingly important behind the wheel as an interface between humans and computers.
The innovative display materials from our Performance Materials business sector make it possible to manufacture flexible, bendable, free-form displays that can be seamlessly integrated into dashboards or seats and provide sharp images with rich contrasts from any viewing angle. In addition, we offer materials for ultrathin and flexible OLED headlights that can be perfectly adapted to the shape of the car body. This creates entirely new possibilities for designers.
But when it comes to cars, safety is far more important than design. So in my view, it’s all the more important for us to offer innovative solutions for this as well. With our liquid crystal technology, for example, we enable headlamps that do not simply shine a light cone, but illuminate precisely defined areas in the driver’s field of vision, which can also be adjusted as required. This should help drivers to recognize road markings or traffic signs even better in the dark. And with our liquid crystal windows, which can be darkened at the push of a button, the lighting conditions inside the vehicle can be individually adapted to the driver’s requirements.
Gigabytes instead of horsepower
In the future, the human risk factor in traffic safety will anyhow be reduced to a minimum by leaving the driving up to the computer. Apart from the new eco-friendly drive technologies, autonomous driving is currently the most important future trend in the automotive industry. In order to be able to drive accident-free without human intervention, cars will have to be able to communicate with each other. And this will require tremendous computing capacities – especially when you think of dense traffic in cities, where thousands and thousands of self-driving cars will have to be coordinated in the future.
We are making an important contribution with the semiconductor materials from our Performance Materials business unit. That’s because our high-tech materials permit the development of increasingly powerful microchips and sensors that form the backbone of self-driving vehicles. In a study, the auditing and consultancy firm PwC assumes that sales of semiconductors to the automotive industry will increase to US$ 68 billion by 2022. This development is due not only to the huge market potential of autonomous cars, but also to the increasing proportion of electric vehicles that require about twice as many semiconductors as conventional vehicles.
If the promise of smart, autonomous traffic is to be realized not only in urban but also rural areas, not only high-performance microchips, but also large-scale networks will be needed. Smart antennas, which provide reliable and ultra-fast connections between cars and satellites even in remote regions, could represent a promising solution. Liquid crystal technology from Merck is important when it comes to manufacturing smart antennas.
From the bumper to the board computer
It always fascinates me to see how many application possibilities exist for our products in cars alone. And the applications I’ve just mentioned are only a small sample. Among other things, Merck also manufactures functional coatings for the automotive industry that protect vehicles from scratches, dirt and corrosion. And we make pearl luster pigments for aesthetically appealing automotive coatings. So when you tell your electric car to drive you to the next supermarket, you can be pretty certain that Merck technology is also inside your car.
Merck technology is almost everywhere in your car.