With the electrification of vehicle drives, a large part of the environmental impact seems to have been eliminated in one fell swoop. But aren’t we casting out the devil called CO2 with the Beelzebub called electrosmog? Tesla is leading the way, as the innovative vehicle manufacturer has been relying on electric cars as well as electricity storage and photovoltaic systems since it was founded in 2003. Thanks to thorough lobbying, politicians are also convinced of the necessity of electrified powertrains. Corresponding press reports and coordinated public relations work, as well as tax breaks and purchase premiums, are in turn finding favor with consumers and closing the loop – pushing the plug into the socket of electrified vehicle production, so to speak.

New Dimension of Environmental Pollution

However, doubters of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) already fear that this socket could turn into a Pandora’s box for vehicle occupants in the long term. Headaches, palpitations, sleep disturbances or nausea can be the result for so-called electrosensitive people. However, so far neither national nor international studies have been able to establish a direct link to the symptoms described. The Bund für Umwelt- und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND), on the other hand, speaks of a new dimension of environmental pollution and refers to studies that show correlations of diseases in all living beings with the influence of artificially generated electromagnetic fields.

Electromagnetic Fields Are Everywhere

As we reported a year ago, electromagnetic radiation is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be harmless, even in the long term, as long as it occurs only on an everyday scale. Artificial and natural light sources such as lightning or sunlight, for example, are electromagnetic in nature and therefore ubiquitous in our environment. According to a report of the Fachverband für Strahlenschutz e.V., functional disturbances of cardiac pacemakers or defibrillators due to a possible sensitivity to low-frequency electric and magnetic fields cannot be excluded. With regard to malignant diseases including cancer, however, no significant increase has been proven so far, for example with the use of mobile communications. However, if we take a look at current developments in connection with electrification in vehicle interiors, a queasy feeling quickly creeps in. A concrete example,  are child seats that can be networked with the vehicle or other mobile devices, and are also equipped with a wide variety of sensors to monitor the vitality of the little ones, for example, or to ensure that the child seat is installed safely. This is a sensible development, but at the same time it is causing a massive increase in electromagnetic radiation in the vehicle, and next to our children’s heads.

Manufacturers Must Come Up with Something

A real headache for skeptics is the fact that a closed vehicle behaves like a Faraday cage. It is very pleasing and desirable that high voltage built up outside the passenger compartment as a result of lightning strikes is kept away from the occupants and gets dissipated. Electromagnetic fields built up inside the vehicle, on the other hand, cannot escape to the outside either. For this reason, main power cables, for example, are to be routed to the outside in the future. Other ideas being considered by manufacturers include encapsulated drives and filters that help compensate for high voltages.

Elektrosmog through Electrification and Connectivity 

But consumers can also actively protect themselves from high radiation exposure. When it comes to making phone calls or networking the vehicle with the Internet of Things (IoT), the old truism applies: less is more. However, since called spirits cannot be banished so quickly, one of the best precautions against high radiation exposure is currently the use of an external antenna. It is best to use a hands-free telephone system. But a wired headset also reduces exposure, since the radio connection of the terminal is then not directly on the user’s head. Making phone calls in tunnels often leads to a loss of connection. The cell phone works at maximum power here and often runs noticeably hot. However, the off switch is a highly effective way of reducing radiation exposure.

Professional Protection – High-Tech Startups Show How it’s Done 

Since switching off is not always an option, start-up companies such as VHOLA are thinking about EMF (Electromagnetic Fields) protection products and are developing appropriate technologies. For example, VHOLA offers an in-vehicle solution that controls EMR (Electromagnetic Radiation) levels in the passenger cabin via energy management optimization. This takes into account local aspects such as cabin occupancy, passenger preferences, and even driving conditions. This embedded solution runs over the entire lifetime of the vehicle. It is targeted at automotive OEMs and their Tier1s that develop powertrain systems. The VHOLA Aftermarket Radiation Detector is used to detect electromagnetic radiation in the cabin. Target groups are found in the B2B sector, for example in public transportation. In turn, the R&D assistance tool helps reduce design cycle time and provides high quality assurance in the design phase. To detect errors in energy management at an early stage and to improve the design of future vehicles, VHOLA offers a Big Data solution. 

At magility, we are keeping a close eye on developments. With the introduction of 5G at the latest, OEMs and Tier1s will have to deal with EMF. Through our High-Tech Startup Network, we can follow live the approaches to solving this complex and also not entirely unemotional topic. You have got more in-depth questions about EMF or you are interested in the High-Tech Startups of our network? Simply contact us right here. We will be happy to help you with our experts.