Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) today announced the funding of eight new projects under its Capabilities for Automotive Research (A*CAR) consortium, bringing the total value to S$17.5 million for the consortium's 10 research projects jointly selected with industry partners to tackle current challenges in the automotive industry.
Highlights from A*CAR's pre-competitive core research projects include:
Car Communications and Safety
- Smart Beam Scanning for Dual Modes Vehicular Radar. Roads will become safer with the development of this electronic beam-steering system. Aimed at providing a 360-degree sensing system, this project will help drivers/cars to avoid collision with other vehicles and humans, enable drivers to overtake other cars and change lanes safely, as well as park the cars neatly. By developing both hardware and software for millimeter-wave Short Range Radar (SRR) and Long Range Radar (LRR) in vehicles, this project will enhance the thrill of driving while keeping drivers safe.
Precision Engineering and New Materials
- High performance ternary polymer composite materials. Cars of the future can be lighter yet stronger. This new, higher strength plastic material made of nanofiller can replace glass fibers used widely in cars today. Lighter cars will mean driving down fuel consumption. Eg, with every 10% reduction in weight in cars, there would be an average savings in fuel of 6%.
Wear-resistant, heat reflective and self-cleaning material for automotive body. The new nanocomposite material, with its multi-coating layer, is not only wear- and chemical-resistant; it is also able to clean itself through photo-catalysis. It will also reflect heat from the cars to keep cars cool, and reduce the energy consumption by air-conditioning in cars.
- High performance, lead-free composite solders for harsh environment. In the light of increasing functional requirement and ever-stricter service requirement of automotive electronic components, a new generation of composite solders will be developed with superior performance to meet the harsh automotive environment. These will replace the tin-lead solders, extensively used in the automotive industry as interconnect materials, which pose serious environmental problems.
- Wireless Charging for Electric Vehicles (EVs). With EVs expected to hit Singapore's roads as early as next year, this revolutionary concept will provide ultimate convenience to EV owners and boost the adoption of this environmentally-friendly transportation. EV owners will no longer need to drive down to specific charging stations, as every parking lot can be made into a charging station using near-field radio frequency (RF) communications.
Eight New Members for A*CAR Consortium
The A*CAR consortium, founded in 2008 with founding members Bosch, Infineon Technologies, and Dou Yee, is now joined by eight new members. The current membership stands at 11 companies. These included global automotive industry players Toyota Tsusho, GP Batteries, and Anshan Kingpowers Advanced Materials; home-grown globally competitive company ST Kinetics; and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) Addvalue Technologies, CEI Contract Manufacturing and Infowave. A full listing of consortium members is at Annex B.
The consortium aims to drive technology innovation in the automotive industry by forming value chains between automotive OEMs, system integrators, and local supporting industries. By having multiple modes of collaboration in the consortium framework, members can participate in A*CAR through core projects, which are pre-competitive and fully funded by A*STAR; or through special projects which involve co-funded competitive research.
Commenting at the consortium's signing ceremony at Fusionopolis, A*STAR's Chairman Mr Lim Chuan Poh said: "The significant increase in participation coming from both the MNCs and the SMEs testifies to the value proposition of the A*CAR consortium. This value is derived from the suite of world class research capabilities that have been developed in A*STAR research institutes and also the seamless access to these capabilities through the consortium."
He added: "A salient feature of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2015 plans is to leverage on the investments in the public sector to catalyse the growth of private sector R&D activities. The A*CAR consortium is illustrative of this approach through creating a platform for public-private partnership. In addition, the consortium also provides opportunities for the SMEs to work alongside global industry leaders to stay relevant and competitive as part of the value chain in the automotive industry."
Comments from New A*CAR Members
Said Mr Andrew Ng, CEO and Chairman of GP batteries: "GP Batteries has always been at the forefront of developing power storage systems, and with the current trend towards more efficient and greener energy sources for automobiles, we are excited about the boundless possibilities of R&D in this area. By addressing current challenges of the industry, the A*CAR R&D consortium allows us to capitalise on the entire value chain from car makers to infrastructure providers to obtain the best possible results."
Mr Yasuhiro Kakihara, Managing Director of Toyota Tsusho (Singapore) commented: "Toyota Tsusho (Singapore) has taken on several new and challenging projects to contribute to the progress of urban mobility for Singapore, and to provide cleaner, greener, and safer transportation solutions. Joining the A*CAR consortium gives us the opportunity to move forward in various aspects of this intended vision. With an available pool of technical expertise, experienced researchers, and a well-structured architecture for concept development, both on the technical and commercial front, A*CAR allows us to really speed up and realise our plans systematically, to define new standards in the automotive industry."