Shedding Pounds In Automotive Electronics

Shedding Pounds In Automotive Electronics

Weight is suddenly a major concern for carmakers, but slimming down has repercussions.

Weight is emerging a key concern for carmakers as more electronic circuitry is added into vehicles that are either fully or partially powered by batteries. As a result, chipmakers and OEMs are exploring alternative substrate materials, different types of sensor fusion, and new ways to reduce the number of wires.

Adding pounds reduces driving range for electric or hybrid vehicles. The automotive chip industry needs to shed weight and still perform its juggling act to hit all functional safety, reliability and longevity targets. And it has to accomplish this while experimenting with AI at 7nm and beyond. As a result, OEMs are are starting to explore different sensor architectures and flexible circuit boards and chips.

“Every gram matters,” said Dragos Maciuca, executive director of Ford Motor Co.’s Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto, Calif. Speaking at the recent MEMS & Sensors Technical Conference, he said, “What we want from this audience is a $5 LiDAR and 50% weight savings.”

Put simply, the goal is less weight and 360° perception.

“Since the microelectronic systems content of automobiles is growing almost exponentially, the weight and space requirements for these traditional system components will no longer be manageable,” said William Stone, director of printed electronics, integrations and operations at Brewer Science . “It’s easy to point to the wiring and circuit board side and challenge them to find weight savings. Traditional wiring harnesses are exceptionally heavy and bulky due to heavy copper cores and thick insulators. Likewise, printed circuit boards are bulky and require rigid bracketing for mounting and stability.”

But looming large is the increasing number of sensors in automobiles. Cars already have more than 100 sensors in them, said Maciuca. That number is expected to grow to about 600 for electric vehicles, […]

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