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.
It's pretty amazing to see what auto makers have on their product roadmaps in terms of leveraging MEMS sensor technology. The idea of thinking about a vehicle in human terms, and consequently considering its function in terms of human senses is quite an eye opener and a bit hard to wrap your head around. I suppose once you do, the possibilities for the "smart" car are endless. A little scary perhaps, but so is it all innovation on such a grand scale.
I agree. It is interesting to see the automotive industry opening up such a wide range of innovation in electronics. In the past it seemed the innovative developments in electronics were in defense, aerospace, and consumer electronics. Now it looks like automotive is one of the leading industries for innovation.
MEMS can ensure that a driver is not inebriated before getting behind the wheel. He should be able to unlock the car so that he can sit inside and should not be allowed to start the car. This will really reduce the problems with drinken driving and this is really an example of how technology can enhance quality of life.
Now a day's most of the automobiles are coming in a smarter way by equipping with all sorts of intelligent and automated system. Complete automation of dashboards and MPFI fuel injection, GPRS based tracking etc are some of the advanced features. Now a day's some of the high end cars are providing wifi and Bluetooth connectivity also.
thanks everyone for your comments about smart cars enabled by MEMS - one other thing I forgot to mention was the use of MEMS displays inside the car - personally I am concerned it might lead to more road accidents (counter intuititve to the "safety safety safety" mantra that so many in automotive talk about); but i do know that there a bunch of folks in the field (and in automotive) who are looking to put pico-projectors (enabled by MEMS) inside cars in lieu of dashboards...what are your thoughts on this? I am enjoying the conversations - thank you so much. best - Karen
Karen: Great article. I suppose we could make the case that MEMS could detract from safety in some applications, but that would be more than offset by the lives that have been saved by MEMS-based electronic stability control systems. NHTSA estimates that between 8,000 and 10,000 lives per years are saved by electronic stability control.
Thanks for the nice note, Charles! Yes, you are right - the "good" in MEMS in automotive greatly outweighs any downsides in terms of saving lives (just think of how many more have been saved by airbags, too!). thank you! Karen
I guess this is a case of - just because a technology can do something, doesn't mean that it should. Driver distraction is one of the fastest growing areas of concern for automotive manufacturers, legislators and law enforcement. It will be a tricky needle to thread for the manufacturers.
@Scott - yes I agree - and the more I see Americans (I didn't see ANYONE doing this in Europe) talking/texting while driving I have more and more concerns about safety and automotive. I hope that MEMS and other technologies can play a role in ensuring that automobiles become safer! A combination of active and passive safety devices I think are the answer...
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