Auto Tech

Your electric car may be packed with explosives

Stay calm and don't call the bomb squad. There's a good reason your EV may be packed with fuses ready to go off in the event of a crash.

Bosch airbag explosive for electric cars

Relax, this thing makes good explosions.

Bosch

Like it or not, electric cars are the future. Individually, they produce no emissions, have dramatically fewer moving parts than internal-combustion-powered vehicles, making them more reliable and easier to repair, and they deliver instant torque for a satisfying driving experience. 

Even though battery technology still isn't quite where it needs to be for many motorists, EVs continue to slowly gain in popularity. And as they increase in number on roadways around the world, so does the risk of collision. 

And what happens when an electric vehicle is involved in a crash? Their colossal, high-voltage battery packs can catch on fire or, potentially even more seriously than that, their severed cables can contact metallic portions of the vehicle's structure, electrocuting occupants or first responders. Not good.

German supply giant Bosch has a solution that can significantly reduce these risks, it announced earlier this week. The company is supplying to automakers computer-controlled systems that, fractions of a second after a collision, deactivate a vehicle's power circuits. This protects both passengers and rescue workers. (Bosch didn't say which automakers are using these systems.)

How Bosch pyro-fuse works

Infographics are fun, and this helps explains how it all works.

Bosch

Here's how it all works. Special fuses ignite tiny pyrotechnic charges that in turn drive wedges through electrical cables, killing power flow through a vehicle.

Bosch's CG912 is an application-specific integrated circuit, or ASIC for short. It's been used to deploy airbags in crashes and has performed reliably in millions of situations, the company says. It's used here to operate those pyro-fuses. These ASIC units measure a mere 10 millimeters square and weigh but a few grams.

Of course, it's still possible to get shocked or have an electric vehicle catch fire even with these Bosch safety systems onboard and functioning properly, but they surely reduce the risk of these incidents occurring.

Who knew driving around with a car full of explosives could actually save lives?

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