Hella, a German automotive supplier, has developed a digital vehicle key based on ultra-wideband (UWB) technology. The Hella Smart Car Access will go into series production for the first time within the next two years.
The new access solution not only uses UWB radio technology but is also based on a smartphone app. HELLA Smart Car Access enables end-users to lock and unlock their cars completely hands-free and also start the engine without having to pick up a key or a smartphone. The mobile device is automatically detected and recognised by the vehicle from a distance of 50 metres. As soon as the driver approaches within two metres of the car, it is unlocked. The engine itself can only be started when the smartphone is inside the vehicle.
Access authorisations to the vehicle can be digitally managed and shared on the basis of the HELLA Smart Car Access system, e.g. for car sharing services or for fleet providers. Personalisable information can also be stored in the smartphone to activate additional comfort or individualisation features, such as functions enabling welcome or interior lighting.
"HELLA manufactures around 25 million classic remote keys per year for a large number of reputable car manufacturers worldwide. That means that we already hold a leading position in this market field," says Björn Twiehaus, the HELLA Managing Director responsible for the Electronics division. "Building on our strong technology base, we are now taking the next step with our smartphone-based Smart Car Access by making vehicle access even smarter, more comfortable and more secure, thus taking it to a new level."
According to the company, in order to implement these Smart Car Access functions simply, reliably, and safely, HELLA uses UWB technology. This radio technology for near-field communication is used as a standard in new smartphones. “It is characterised by highly precise, centimetre-accurate locating and, furthermore, it prevents the danger of relay attacks, i.e. the unauthorised opening of a vehicle by remote extension. At the same time, the technology ensures that HELLA's system solution does not necessarily require an app and that it continues to function even in situations without a network or internet connection.” The system is compatible with both Android and iOS operating systems.
HELLA successfully put UWB technology in classic remote keys into series production in 2019.