Automotive King Redefines Future

July 01, 2015 // By R. Colin Johnson
Automotive is becoming one of the largest sectors of the electronics market pulling along with it the major suppliers. Renesas, for instance, made its fortune in automotive electronics before diversifying into consumer markets, but with the merger of Freescale with NXP there will be a new king of the hill in automotive electronics and its futuristic visions aim is to keep it on top for the foreseeable future by perfecting "predictive safety" as a prelude to full autonomy.

"We estimate from figures supplied to us by TU [Technische Universität] München that the total cost of a new car was 15 percent electronics in 1990, but will grow from 30 percent in 2020 to as much as 50 percent by 2030," Patrick Morgan, vice president and general manager of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) told EE Times. "And that doesn't count the $400 billion that could be saved by preventing accidents, not to mention the 1.2 million lives saved worldwide and the 50 million injures prevented."

Today, the biggest safety systems in automobiles are passive systems like airbags and enhanced safety systems (ESC), such smart cruise controls, blind-spot detection, infrared night vision, collision mitigation systems, and rear-view camera systems all the way to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) like lane departure warnings and automatic braking to prevent rear-ending the car in front of you. But for the future, the name of the game will be "predictive safety," according to Morgan. "We will be selling sophisticated vision and image recognition systems—in addition to the radar where we already sell the large majority of systems with one million sold so far—that will be able to classify objects and take evasive action ranging from a simple alerts to the driver all the way to taking over control of the car to prevent collisions--especially with pedestrians."