Today was the last day of electronica 2014 in Munich, Germany. What an event it has been. This is certainly one of the largest electronica shows in our history here, and the global aspect and high volume of idea exchanges and collaboration has made this a very successful event for everyone in attendance. One of the key topics has been the many advances in automotive electronics solutions and the positive impact that these new opportunities will have on industries, consumers, and the environment.
The largest smart device?
One of the many showcased topics at electronica has been automotive electronics. There is no question that the opportunities for the semiconductor and electronics industry in the automotive industry continue to open and expand. With the IoT focus and consumer expectations of seamlessly moving through their day as effortlessly as changing apps on their smartphone, there level of on-board electronics and auto-infotainment solutions are growing exponentially.
The Vehicle-to-X (V2X) connectivity opportunity is one that offers both challenges and opportunities for the semiconductor and electronics industry. The challenges focus around security and ensuring the integrity of the system so that vehicles cannot be hacked and the data transmissions will not be compromised. The opportunities are manifold greater than the challenges (not that the challenges are easily solved just yet), and the advantages for supporting improved efficiency, reduced traffic congestion, and real-time smart navigation are tremendous. One event at electronica that I briefly mentioned yesterday is the joint venture illustrating V2X capabilities though a live test of V2X communication during electronica. NXP offers a concise explanation of the importance of this event:
NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ: NXPI) has teamed up with industry leaders to launch a ‘Communicating Cars’ test drive along the ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) Corridor across Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. Starting today from the world’s leading electronics trade show – electronica – in Munich, the tour will see a convoy of Honda smart vehicles drive through 1300km of roads, including ITS test fields in Munich, Vienna and Helmond fitted with Siemens intelligent traffic infrastructure. The demo cars, which are fitted with leading and secure NXP communications technology, will showcase the benefits of smarter traffic control including improved road safety and reduced pollution.
Lighting the drive
LED lighting and automotive solutions is certainly a major topic. With LED pricing falling, more applications for the auto industry have opened because automotive OEMs are able to offer significant external lighting (clearer and better night-driving lighting) as well as internal lighting for day- and nighttime environments. Among the LED automotive solutions on display at electronica are a number of new components from ON Semiconductor including a highly flexible, lower BoM cost solution for external lighting with a range of light situations (fog, low and high beam, turn indicators, etc.). EETimes offers a good summary of the solution, NCV78763, a smart power ballast and dual-channel LED driver:
Capable of driving two strings of LEDs up to 60 V, the NCV78763 provides an efficient single-chip automotive lighting solution. […]Due to the serial peripheral interface (SPI) programmability, this solution is highly flexible - permitting the scaling up of designs so that more LED strings can be utilized. This results in multiple system configurations, which are able to address an expansive range of automobile models, with significantly faster design cycles and lower engineering overheads.
Safety still driving the market
Safety and automotive electronics has always been a lead market opportunity for both industries for obvious reasons. At electronica, Toshiba displayed one of their advanced automotive solutions for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), this a critical advancement to improve dark or poorly lit conditions. Crash avoidance of obstacles, pedestrians, and other hazards is critical and we haven't seen many advances beyond improved LED external lighting – which has had a significant impact. The Toshiba ADAS solution, TMPV760 series "[…] supports standard ADAS features such as AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking), TSR (Traffic Sign Recognition), LDW (Lane Departure Warning) / LKA (Lane Keeping Assist), HBA (High Beam Assistance), FCW (Forward Collision Warning). It also supports a number of new applications that will become part of the Euro NCAP testing program in 2018, including TLR (Traffic Light Recognition), and pedestrian detection at night-time."
Also focused on the ADAS and safety aspects of automotive semiconductor solutions, Renesas is very positive about the importance of Europe as a center for this market. Just last month, Renesas has made Germany the center for the Renesas Global ADAS Solution Group. As EETimes commented on the solution series:
Renesas plans to create a global technology platform - microprocessors, SoCs etc. An important ingredient of this platform will be the accompanied software - and when it comes to the software, Renesas believes in open-source operating systems like Linux. "Most new developments are Linux-driven", [Jean-Francois Chouteau, General Manager, Renesas Global ADAS Group] said. This holds particularly true for the infotainment domain.
More to come
As electronica closes its doors, the next generation of automotive electronics solutions is just opening and we anticipate an even greater set of demonstrations and amazing, innovative auto-electronics to be on display at CES 2015, MWC, Computex, among the many other trade shows that are to come. For both the automotive and electronics industry, the growth in these solutions presents significant positive forecasts while providing improvements in safety and efficiency for consumers.