Automotive safety, reliability, comfort, and economy improvements are driven by Electronics
In aircraft triple redundant systems compare outputs from three sets of sensors, so that if one fails or provides erroneous data the two that agree are used to maintain system integrity. Unlike planes, which have plenty of space in the sky, road vehicles operate in much closer proximity to other vehicles, road users, and pedestrians. They have to do this in a variety of environmental conditions meaning drivers and on board systems need to be rapidly sensing a 360 degree perimeter, calculating risk response, and continually reacting at high speed to stay safe on increasingly congested roads. NOW we want to take the driver out of the equation?? A driver brings 5 senses, a lot of computing power, as well as non-artificial intelligence based adaptability, which needs to be replaced if we are to progress safely without creating higher risks and a liability lawyers Nirvana. On the other hand the Global death toll from “Human error” demonstrates room for improvement, so if we can reliably eliminate, inattention, emotion, and driver error/fitness, then the rewards are clear.
The automotive environment is hostile to electronics, with temperature variations, EMC, ESD, vibrations, and moisture all needing to be guarded against. For sure automotive safety should never be left to chance & component selection never undertaken lightly, yet the number of in vehicle applications has been growing rapidly and reliability increasing with it.
Component quality (AEQ-100), and safety (ISO26262) standards, are contributory factors in ensuring safety, reliability, comfort, and economy, improvements are being achieved, but we are a number of years ahead of artificial intelligence being able to adequately replace drivers, and hence the growth in ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) platforms from a number of potential suppliers who have seen auto electronics as a potentially lucrative market. Infineon have gone one step further than the industry standard Automotive Safety Integrity level (ASIL) with their program named PRO-SIL™. The trademark designates products which contain SIL supporting features covering technical features in hardware and software but also supporting features like development process and user documentation.
As a design engineer, it’s relatively quick to determine which core microcontroller and development environment (IDE) to use (often familiarity means the latest version of the family used in the last project), and then secure the appropriate development platform. But what then, where to source the sensors, power ICs, etc., without introducing incompatibility or other complexities or risks to your design?
RS has been increasing its stocked range of automotive and industrial components since it signed a Global marketing agreement with Infineon 15 months ago (Dec 2015), as Infineon has more than 40 years history of market leadership in supporting the largest manufactures in these industries.
Infineon’s reputation for Power components is well known, but other parts of their portfolio like the AURIX Tri-core family (with lock step shadow controller safety – lowest cost Eval solution for which is the Shieldbuddy. RS Stock No. (124-5257) , high & low side protected switches, and multitude of sensors, have been more selectively marketed to key customers in the past. However this is changing and in line with the growth of applications and companies driving them, a much broader customer base is being enabled through online global distributors like RS, in addition to the publication of a number of application specific product brochures.
These include the Automotive Applications guide, which provides over 40 typical example scenarios for many typical functional applications and indicative component suggestions in the form of block diagrams that could save R&D engineers time and money in component selection and integration.
Other Brochures address, everything from light electric vehicles, through Hybrid vehicles, and even Commercial and Agricultural vehicles, which are increasingly turning to heavy duty electrical power for auxiliary systems.