Bosch's latest creation is an accelerator pedal that provides haptic feedback through the driver's foot if he or she is being too heavy on fuel.
One of the reasons that a car's quoted fuel consumption figures and the actual number of miles it manages to a gallon of fuel can be so disparate has nothing to do with software cheat devices. It's usually because no two people drive in exactly same way. And, according to Bosch, the difference between having a foot made of feathers and one made of lead is responsible to up to 25 per cent of a vehicle's fuel use.
So to accelerate drivers' understanding of when to press on and when to lift off in order to conserve fuel, it has built a "smart" pedal.
"The Bosch active pedal helps drivers save fuel -- and alerts them to potentially dangerous situations as well," said Stefan Seiberth, president of the Gasoline Systems division of Robert Bosch GmbH.
Gentle haptic feedback like that used on navigation touch screens so that drivers know they've made contact without taking their eyes off the road makes it clear when the line between rapidity and irresponsibility is being crossed. "The pedal tells the driver when the economy and acceleration curves intersect," explains Seiberth.
What's more, if the pedal is fitted to a car with the latest-generation sensors and assistance systems, it can also serve as an early warning system, prompting the driver if a bend is approaching and the car is currently traveling too quickly. It can also alert the driver if, for instance they're accidentally traveling the wrong way along a stretch of road or if there is an obstacle over the horizon. All through vibration.
There are less high-tech ways of cutting fuel consumption but they usually require an eco driving course and take time to develop into habits. Bosch claims that the active pedal alone is enough to cut both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 7 per cent.
But that's just the start. If fitted to a hybrid vehicle, the pedal can prompt the driver as to the best time to coast -- i.e., roll without power from the combustion engine -- and can also give an alert when the combustion engine is needed again so that accelerator pressure can be increased accordingly for a smooth transition from electric to petrol/diesel power.