Bosch prepares for introduction of Europe-wide eCall service on March 31


German automotive technology supplier Bosch has developed a range of equipment in preparation for the introduction of the eCall automatic emergency call road safety system, which will become mandatory in the European Union on March 31.

After March 31, all new passenger vehicle models that hit the EU market will come with eCall as standard equipment. These new vehicles will feature a standardized eCall box that automatically alerts the local emergency services via the Europe-wide number 112. As a result, lifesaving assistance will be able to arrive at the scene of an accident with greater speed and precision. The EU expects that eCall will save 2,500 lives each year and reduce the number of people who are seriously injured by 15%.

Bosch has been developing an extensive range of eCall devices, including systems for cars and motorcycles, as well as a telematics plug for retrofitting to older cars so they can also can benefit from the new service.

As well as the standard eCall box, Bosch also offers an additional connectivity control unit (CCU) that a connected vehicle uses to communicate with the outside world. The CCU registers a crash when the car’s airbags or seat-belt pretensioners are triggered, and then alerts rescue services or the Bosch emergency call center within seconds. Due to the transmitted GPS position, direction of travel and seatbelt sensor-derived information about the number of occupants, emergency responders arrive faster and better prepared. The automatic eCall system enables emergency services to arrive at the scene of an accident 40% faster in a city, while in rural areas they can cut the usual response time in half.

The company’s new retrofit digital eCall plug is simply inserted into a vehicle’s 12V socket (cigarette lighter), without the need to visit a garage. Due to an integrated acceleration sensor, it registers collisions and accident severity, and then uses Bluetooth to send this information to the corresponding app on the driver’s smartphone, which in turn alerts the service center of the vehicle insurers’ accident switchboard. Even with the retrofit system, an audio connection is first established with the driver, and if they do not respond, emergency services are immediately dispatched.

Motorcyclists are among the road users most at risk, with the chance of a biker being killed in an accident 18 times higher than for car drivers. Because of their vulnerability, Bosch is developing eCall not only for cars, but also for two-wheelers. A special CCU for motorcycles captures the bike’s operating data, which it uses to detect accidents. Thanks to an integrated GPS module, the exact location of the accident is transmitted to the emergency services call center.

“Through the automatic eCall system, connected vehicles are now going to become lifesavers as well,” explained Dr Dirk Hoheisel, Bosch board member. “eCall places the emergency call faster than a person could and initiates the lifesaving rescue chain. No car is too old to be a lifesaver, which is why we have developed an eCall retrofit solution in the form of the telematics eCall plug.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).