Automotive Electronics: Paving The Way To The Future Of Automobile Safety, Comfort, And Convenience

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The electronics content in a vehicle today has increased significantly compared to the previous decade. According to Allied Market Research, the global market is estimated to reach $382.16 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 7.3 percent from 2019 to 2026. In 2019, the global automotive electronics market accounted for $228.34 billion. New age vehicles are transforming into smart electronic devices on the move.

As the comfort and convenience quotient increases in the cars of today, the incorporation of the advanced electronics is on a gradual rise too. These electronics ensure multi-functionality and are packed with powerful performance. Electronics power almost all the functionalities of the modern cars today, for instance, electronic braking system, airbag control units, body control module, keyless entry, power windows, and so on. The more sophisticated features are, the functionality requires higher computational power, and to enable this, advanced electronics play a crucial role.

Advanced Automotive Electronics Trends
•ECUs: Modern-day vehicles feature numerous electronics responsible for various functions. These electronics are overseen and powered by Electronic Control Units (ECUs). In some luxury cars, more than 100 ECUs are installed to look after various functions, improving the car's electronic performance.

An ECU will typically control the anti-lock braking system, electronic fuel injection setup, and other car's electronic features. Some systems have their own ECUs, whereas in some cases, one ECU may be responsible for many associated systems.

On a very primary level, an ECU is fed with several inputs, and those inputs are then assessed by the ECU and compared with stored onboard data. The ECU decides what needs to be done to ensure the system in question functions properly and issues new commands to suit. The outputs alter the operation of the whole system, providing the desired effect.

•High-Performance Computers (HPC): Vehicles are rapidly moving towards automotive electronics that demand higher scalability and upgradability. For this, the automotive industry is moving towards High-Performance Computers (HPC), which acts as an application server for traditional vehicle functionalities and is also an essential element of the vehicle as a part of the Internet of Everything (IoT). This also opens up the possibilities to integrate applications and services over-the-air (OTA).

Just like a smartphone, the vehicle's functions become updatable and upgradable throughout its lifetime. With the evolution of electronic systems in vehicles, manufacturers will have a platform to introduce more functionalities in vehicles, which can enable automation and enhance the comfort and efficiency of the vehicle. Talking about HPC, it plays an essential role in autonomous vehicle operation.

Through digitalization, we are making the vehicle part of the internet, with telematics, electronics for the chassis and antennas. And now, we are adding further strengths with the development of new architectures for the electronics in the car. And we are also paving the way for standardized operating systems. You all know such systems from your cell phones. As a user, you use them to download your new programs, all of that without a cable. And that is the way it will be for the car as well. This business is growing rapidly. Just as important is the protection against cyber-attacks, which cars, just like cellphones, need as well and to be taken care of.

•Mechatronics: Mechatronics includes a combination of robotics, electronics, computer, telecommunications, systems, control, and product engineering. It opens up the possibilities which were earlier unimaginable with traditional mechanical systems.

Mechatronics includes a combination of robotics, electronics, computer, telecommunications, systems, control, and product engineering

Taking a simple example of mechatronics, one of the first few subsystems to be automated was the formerly purely mechanical carburetor, which now uses a computer-controlled fuel injector. During a cold-engine start-up, automated fuel injectors adjust fuel-air mixtures in real-time. Mechatronics didn't just add motorized controllers to a carburetor, for instance, the automated tape drive, but used new materials, the fuel injectors, to handle the old functions better.

Electronics Enhancing the Vehicle Safety
Electronics play a vital role in vehicle safety. For instance, electronic devices such as LIDARs, radars, and cameras enable Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB). AEB is a proactive driver assistance system whose primary function is to predict the movement of vehicles and provide brake assistance to the driver.

Similarly, there are various examples of electronics that have helped in bringing advanced safety features to a reality. On the other hand, Safety Domain Control Unit (SDCU) is our premium control unit for safety. It is an evolution of 'State-Of-The-Art' Airbag Control Unit (ACU), which is available today in the market. With the advent of autonomous and automated driving, SDCU will enable much more advanced safety functionalities. SDCU provides functionalities such as recording different accident information, pedestrian protection, roll-over detection, and enables advanced features such as post-crash analysis of crash data; are few such examples.

Another safety enabling electronic is the Contact Sensor System (CoSSy). CoSSy is a guidance system that prevents the vehicle from hitting the pedestrians by sensing the situation and then guiding the driver to make decisions based on it. Once installed, the CoSSy sensor signals can support many other applications, such as detection of vandalism (scratching), slow parking knocks, recognition of the road condition, driver identification by voice, or detection of approaching emergency vehicles.

Automotive Electronics Upgrading Comfort & Convenience
From something as simple as door lock controls and mirror controls to Ac2ated Speakerless Audio, smart voice assistant, and 3D Natural Display, everything is powered with electronics at its core. Many of the vehicle Infotainment and HMI features are facilitated by Cockpit High Performance Computer (HPC).

HPC is a crucial step towards the transformation of modern vehicle architecture that demands the consolidation of electronic control units (ECU). HPC integrates all the displays into a single unit and provides a holistic Human-Machine Interface. The driver can dynamically distribute content across multiple displays and place the information where they need to see it. The displays are enabled with touch, gesture recognition, voice recognition, and haptic feedback that allows the driver to stay focused on the road and makes driving safe. It provides a flexible user interface personalized for the user. The user interface is seamless across the integrated display, providing a consistent Human-Machine interface philosophy.

Today, a car comes with connectivity, digital displays, ABS, airbags, ADAS systems, and much more. Components per car have increased exponentially over the past few decades, and this has become possible due to automotive electronics. Using electronic control over the previously mechanical system means fewer and less-expensive components to outperform tight-spec mechanically calibrated components.

Automotive electronics have a huge role in the way mobility has transformed today and will continue to play a crucial part in bringing many futuristic automotive functions to reality.