Active ADAS: fivefold growth predicted

June 11, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The trend in the automotive industry towards higher safety standards generates a huge demand for active driver assistant systems - systems that, in contrast to earlier approaches get actively involved in longitudinal and / or lateral control of the vehicle. A recent study from market researcher IHS Technology predicts that the value of such systems built will quintuple over the seven years ahead. This trend will significantly spur the demand for powerful microprocessors and sensors, the experts say.

IHS distinguishes between active and passive Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS): Passive systems simply provide a driver alert in hazardous situations while active systems, connected to the respective actuators like power steering or electric brake, can take the control over the vehicle in such a situation, if the driver does not react to the warning signal. An example of a passive system is lane departure warning: The system monitors the lane markings on a roadway and alerts the driver if the car starts veering out of its lane and the turn signals are not being used. In this case, it is the driver who must steer the vehicle back to its lane. In an active-control ADAS however, such as a lane-keep assist, the electronics act in a more proactive way: If the driver does not respond after an initial warning from the car, the car itself typically takes action to keep the vehicle from drifting.

Another example of an active-control mechanism is automatic emergency braking (AEB), which uses forward-looking radar and video systems to detect the relative speeds of vehicles to determine if a collision is imminent. If a potential collision is detected, the vehicle applies full or partial braking power to slow down significantly in order to mitigate the severity of the collision; if necessary, it the system even brakes until a full stop is achieved.

According to IHS principal analyst for automotive semiconductors Luca DeAmbroggi, active-control systems are currently growing faster than their passive counterparts. Since active systems require more semiconductors, this trend will significantly spur the demand for automotive chips.

And there is another effect that drives the value of the semiconductors used in these systems: Chips for active-control systems need to be compliant with stringent safety certifications, such as Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL), or ISO 26262. Since safety considerations are of paramount importance to active-control semiconductors ASIL systems will require compliant chips that typically cost