Finnish innovations transform cars and protect drivers

Car parts made of wood and a slipperiness detection system offer fresh ideas for the automotive industry.

The Biofore Concept Car, designed and manufactured by students from the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, showcases the use of innovative biomaterials developed by the Finnish company UPM. Replacing parts traditionally made from plastics with high quality, the safe and durable biomaterials can significantly improve the overall environmental performance of car manufacturing, according to UPM.

In the Biofore Concept Car, the passenger compartment floor, centre console, display panel cover and door panels are made of UPM Grada thermoformable wood material which opens up new opportunities for designs not achievable with traditional methods. The front mask, side skirts, dashboard, door panels and interior panels are made of UPM Formi, which is a durable, high quality biocomposite for injection moulding, extrusion and thermoforming production.

The vehicle runs on the wood-based renewable diesel UPM BioVerno, which significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuels. Thanks to the use of biomaterials, the car is also approximately 150kg lighter than its equivalents, resulting in lower fuel consumption.

Slipperiness detection system

An automatic slipperiness detection system developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland detects changes in road conditions in real time, based on data collected by the car’s own sensors. The information is then passed on to the driver and can also help other drivers to prepare in advance for slippery stretches of road. According to VTT, the system fits all car makes and its functionality has been tested in the field in cooperation with VR-Transpoint and EC-Tools Oy.

Observations collected from different cars and the related coordinates can be transmitted wirelessly to a background system, which maintains a real-time slipperiness map. For each car that joins the system, the background system produces and transmits an individual data package on road conditions. Various vehicle terminal devices can also be used to join the system and information on the level of slipperiness can be transmitted to drivers by means of warning lights, voice signals, text or symbols.

Sources: UPM, VTT