In the process of being acquired by Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Hannu Laatikainen, executive vice president responsible for transportation business at MEMS vendor VTI Technologies Oy, was more visionary. He argued that MEMS should provide an automobile with a sensory system like humans. "We have eyes and ears. We should have cameras and microphones, we should measure friction (traction of the tires), we should taste the fuel. We should even have a nose for the car." In response, Dixon pointed out that it is now a legal requirement in France to carry a Breathalyzer in the car.
Extra demands on MEMS makers
It was left to Marc Osajda, global automotive strategy manager at Freescale Semiconductor Inc., to bring the panelists and the audience down to earth. He made the point that although the market might increase, the pressure would come from automobile makers to do all the difficult things; to reduce size, reduce power consumption, and reduce cost. The latter was particularly true as much of the expansion of the market would be coming in emerging markets, and costs would have to be reduced significantly to hit car price targets.
Bernhard Schmid, manager of sensor systems and the technology center for chassis and safety division of tier-1 supplier Continental Teves AG, didn't disagree on this point. But his wish list included car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications, for enhanced traffic safety, as well as more robust, less-sensitive, lower-cost MEMS sensors.
There followed a dialog between Freescale's Osajda and Conti's Schmid that explored the likely impact of ISO26262. The standard, published in November 2011, provides requirements, processes, and methods to mitigate the effects of systematic and random faults. The standard requires proof of risk assessment and documentation of the steps taken to avoid systematic and random errors in functional systems in product development. This might include the inclusion of such things as redundant systems.
Osajda's initial position was that the standard, with its classifications of A, B, C, and D levels of automotive safety integrity levels, takes a system-level view of safety in road vehicles. "It is a system architecture thing," he said.