June is National Safety Month and, to celebrate, we’re collecting unique perspectives from colleagues working on advanced safety technology, ranging from insights on important progress to why they show up to work every single day. Stay tuned each week for a fresh viewpoint.
Aranza Hinojosa, Lead Systems Engineer within Continental North America’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) group, has been with Continental for all of her professional life.
“I started with Continental fresh out of University,” Aranza remembered. “My last class was on a Saturday and two days later was my first day at Continental. Almost five years later, and I’m still here.”
Currently Aranza works on a two different systems that enable safety functions like Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Assistance[SC(3] and Adaptive Cruise Control. According to a study by AAA, if installed on all vehicles currently on the road, some of these available technologies could prevent approximately 40 percent of all passenger-vehicle crashes and 29 percent of all resulting fatalities. It is this promise of increased safety that convinced Aranza to stick with automotive engineering.
“My background is biomedical engineering. Honestly, automotive was not on my radar, and I did not know a lot about what I am doing today,” Aranza shared. “However, every day at work I was learning about the driver assistance and automated driving functions that Continental develops, and how these make a difference in reducing injuries and fatality rates."
It was the safety impact of these functions, the technical challenges that these functions represent, as well as the significant possibility for innovation that got me interested in this field.
Aranza has to ensure the technologies she works on will function in the real world as designed. To account for driving scenarios in different geographic regions and traffic scenarios, vast amounts of data are needed to ensure these advanced safety systems function as intended across different environments and use cases.
“The amount of data collected to train algorithms and validate our systems reaches terabytes in no time,” Aranza explained. “For this, cutting-edge computing equipment is needed, as well as synthetic data from virtual simulations – think about that next time you experience a vehicle perform a safety function!”
In addition to helping keep roads safer for drivers and pedestrians alike, she is also motivated to help ensure mobility is accessible and designed for all people, as well as extending the safety benefits of the vehicle to its urban surroundings.
“My vision for the future is to have an inclusive mobility network that allows people with disabilities to live a more independent life, being able to move around their cities without hassle. I would also like to see smart cities where drivers and passengers are safe while in motion, while waiting for public transportation or walking around an urban area.”