Cover story: driving Innovation — cars & electronics converge

Fortunately for the semiconductor industry, the outlook for automobiles includes an unprecedented array of innovations that require significantly greater numbers of electronic devices. From the cameras, sensors, and image processors needed for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) in conventional autos, to sophisticated power electronics used in electric vehicles (EVs) and advanced sensor technologies for autonomous “self-driving” vehicles, the automotive and semiconductor industries are more tightly linked than ever – An article written by David Lammers, Applied Materials.

There is strong evidence that the worldwide automotive industry is in a milestone period, one that heralds significant changes that will span several decades. One powerful force behind these events is the fast-forming consensus that climate change is real, with the gases coming out of tailpipes as one of the causes. Little wonder, then, that the smog-challenged Chinese government is pushing adoption of EVs and ADAS-capable cars and highways, or that a China-based EV vendor, BYD (it stands for Build Your Dreams) is building battery-powered buses at its factory near Los Angeles.

There is a virtuous cycle developing, one that benefits semiconductor suppliers focused on automotive electronics. New ADAS safety features, such as automatic emergency braking systems (EBS), are attracting car buyers (and insurance companies) who want to avoid costly crashes. Beyond that self-interest, governments are stepping in: the US National Highway Traffi c Safety Administration (NHTSA) will require automatic emergency braking as a standard feature on new cars by 2022, for example.

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