What you’ll learn:
- Digitization of automotive systems.
- How automotive electronics helps to enhance safety in vehicles.
- How companies are bringing about innovative advancements in automotive electronics.
Evolution has been a prevalent part of the automotive industry from the start, especially as the industrial landscape continues to become more technologically charged. As cars evolved from the first automobile developed by Carl Benz in 1886 to today’s automotive models, so did their technological infrastructures, which brings one to automotive electronics used in the latest vehicles.
From the replacement of the starter crank engine handle by electronic ignition in 1922, to Chrysler’s introduction of keyed ignitions in 1949, to the modern era where connected vehicles are quickly becoming the new norm, vehicle technology has witnessed a slew of developments over the years. These developments, alongside rising penetration of advanced safety systems in vehicles, the emergence of electric vehicles, and rapid progress in mobility technologies, are triggering a surge in demand for automotive electronics.
Digitization of Automotive Systems
Automotive electronics have been considered core components in vehicles since the 1960s. From engine-emission and fuel-economy management amid strict standards to the streamlining of the overall driving process, the scope of the automotive electronics market has broadened considerably since its early days. The origins of electronic systems in vehicles can be traced back to the use of a small computer, dubbed the ECU (electronic control unit) given its engine control function, for the electronic fuel-injection system of a 1968 VW (Volkswagen) model, developed by Bosch.
Automotive electronics technology has come a long way since the humble ECU, with the latest versions facing the complex task of powering self-driving vehicles. Innovations in these systems have enabled cars to transcend their primitive function of facilitating movement from one destination to another and deliver more sophisticated and pleasurable driving experiences.
Embedded electronic systems in vehicles have established themselves as a core part of the modern automotive architecture. These systems are used in vehicle technologies ranging from anti-lock brakes to safety airbags, from media systems to parking functionalities, and more.
On top of that, greater focus on autonomous car technologies has significantly added to the number of microprocessors used in the vehicles. Modern-day cars are equipped with over 100 microprocessors, urging technology companies to undertake targeted efforts toward developing sensors and computer systems designed to facilitate faster integration of autonomous vehicles into the mainstream. For instance, the Chevy Volt is equipped with almost 100 microprocessors tasked with running more than 10 million lines of codes, making the vehicle software content more complex than even the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
From the emergence of electric starters to the integration of advanced safety navigation and comfort features, automotive electronics technology has evolved considerably over the past century. So much so that it’s anticipated to represent almost 50% of the total value of a vehicle by 2030, according to reliable studies.
Enhancing Safety and Comfort Through Electronics
Automobiles are morphing gradually from primitive motor vehicles to modern mobility technologies. From the conventional internal-combustion-engine (ICE) vehicles to the hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) to the electric vehicle (EV), each evolution in the automotive domain is getting closer to the elusive fully autonomous vehicle or AV, with each passing day.
Throughout these developments, however, the main concern for the industry remains the same: safety. Studies suggest that almost 1.35 million fatalities occur due to road crashes per year, amounting to almost 3,700 deaths each day. Considering these alarming statistics, automakers are consistently on the lookout for sophisticated technologies that will facilitate the development of advanced vehicle systems with high functional safety.
Electronic systems in vehicles play a key role in this regard, with myriad electromechanical components being added to new vehicle systems for better safety and handling, such as advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), electric powertrains, and engine start/stop functionalities, among others.
Vehicles in the present day are equipped with a host of advanced automotive electronics technologies designed to enhance safety, including blind-spot monitoring, pedestrian recognition, adaptive cruise control, etc. Newer cars also consist of various features designed to provide added comfort, e.g. infotainment systems, as well as to improve fuel efficiencies, such as hybrid or electric powertrains, cylinder deactivation technology, and others.
The pervasiveness of electronic systems in vehicles is enabling numerous manufacturers to provide a more sophisticated driving experience, better fuel efficiency, and an overall increase in the comfort of both drivers and passengers in their vehicles.
To illustrate, Renesas Electronics recently introduced its Perception Quick Start software for the R-Car V3H system-on-chip hardware in an effort to boost its ADAS portfolio. The novel software allows for the amalgamation of computer vision and artificial intelligence at lower power levels for the front cameras of Level 2+ autonomous vehicles. This hardware-software combination facilitates COD camera obstacle detection (COD), LiDAR obstacle detection (LOD), and road-feature detection (RFD). It’s been adopted mainly for the Nissan Skyline’s ProPILOT 2.0 ADAS, which delivers combined hands-off single-lane and navigated highway driving functionalities.
Automotive electronics industry players are also involved in various strategic activities, including expansions and product innovations, to pave the way for a more advanced automotive industry in the years ahead.
A notable example of this is Bosch, a prominent automotive supplier, that has initiated the consolidation of over 17,000 employees across its diverse business groups, into a single Cross-Domain Computing Solutions division. The new division was established to streamline the development and speed up the deployment of new electronic capabilities and functions in vehicles. The division also involves the company’s Automotive Electronics division, as well as existing organizations handling car multimedia, chassis systems, and powertrain control.
Saloni Walimbe is a Content Writer for Global Market Insights Inc.