Laatikainen talked about how we need to treat the car more like a human with its senses -- so a car can see, feel, hear, smell, and taste -- which I guess is a cooler way of talking about driver-assist technology. All of the automotive panelists talked about the incredible technology challenge to reduce size, cost, and power consumption. Buhlmann also covered this in his keynote while describing the "human side" of creating a car that is not only efficient and safe, but is also comfortable and functional (i.e. has a place for that grande latte separate from your iPhone, as well as a spot for your gearshift).
That brings up the issue of sensor integration -- which is a challenge that all of the speakers touched upon at the Congress Europe. This clearly constitutes a "call to arms" for the MEMS industry. As we have more highly-integrated sensors, there will be more requirements for driving dynamics. And as we build these fancy sensor networks -- car-car and car-infrastructure -- we will need new solutions for packaging, robustness, and sensitivity. Plus, with the transition to electro-mobility, there is also a need to detect chemicals and battery life, as well as to maximize energy consumption. The trick will be to improve overall automotive functionality by connecting these systems. These are not trivial issues, but someone's going to figure it out and will hopefully make a lot of money doing so. (Feel free to thank me later.)
Buhlmann was most emphatic about the importance of safety. In fact, he said "safety, safety, safety" -- while extolling MEMS' diagnostic functions. He also predicted that smart automotive enabled by MEMS will be reliable, highly accurate, highly integrated, small, and modular, with low emissions and at the right price. Though he didn't say when or in what order these would be realized, I am confident that the MEMS industry pros in the audience at MEMS Executive Congress are ready to meet these challenges and will successfully bring these to market.
I invite you to continue the conversation on smart automotive enabled by MEMS at future MIG and industry events.