Sensing solutions for automotive applications – Q&A with Infineon

Sensing solutions for automotive applications – Q&A with Infineon

07 Jan 2021 – Originally appeared on JustAuto

Three megatrends are shaping the auto industry: electro-mobility, automated driving and the connected car. This is welcome news for Infineon given that all are heavily reliant on sensors. Continuing just-auto/AIC’s series of interviews, Matthew Beecham spoke to Lars Ullrich, Vice President of the Automotive at Infineon Technologies Americas about developing semiconductor solutions for automotive applications.

Lars Ulrich, VP Automotive at Infineon Technologies Americas

What areas of your automotive business are you particularly well positioned in the marketplace and which show most promise for growth in 2021?

The acquisition of Cypress Semiconductor in 2020 strengthened Infineon’s ability meet customer requirements as the industry responds to three megatrends. We see these as the move to zero emission transportation systems; the fact that the car remains a car; and that there is steady evolution to platforms where the driver will become a passenger. 
The move towards zero emissions hasn’t eliminated innovation in ICE design and much of the advancement there relies on increasing the role of electronics in engine control and mechatronics. Concurrently, incentives to move quickly through stages of P/EV to full EV are significant factors in such major markets as China and the EU. In the U.S, action by state governments related to zero emission requirements will likely be followed at the federal level by the incoming administration, which seems committed to aggressive climate goals. Infineon has a full portfolio of the semiconductors to support all systems in PEV/EV vehicles; sensors, microcontrollers (MCUs), NOR Flash memories, and drive train power devices, as well as control power and communications.

As noted, we also see that while the car will remain a car – four motor driven wheels and full accommodation for human control – there is across the board adoption of comfort features and increasing levels ADAS systems. This plays to Infineon strengths in sensors, such as high-performance radar and Time-of-Flight (ToF) technologies, and to an expanded portfolio of MCUs that encompass critical Electronic Control Unit (ECU), body electronics and infotainment clusters. Both ADAS and growing in-car comfort and infotainment systems support enhancement of driver capabilities while improving the travel experience.

Given that increasing levels of driver automation require more sensors to be fitted to the car, where are Infineon’s strengths?

Overall, Infineon is now the second largest supplier of sensor chips for automotive systems used in traditional “under-the-hood,” body and chassis mechatronics systems, exterior environmental sensors such as radars, and technology suited to new types of driver monitoring and safety applications. Our portfolio comprises dependable products with features such as best in class security, functional safety and high automotive quality. We combine this with premium customer support, system understanding and a passion for innovation to better serve our Tier 1 customers and a larger portion of their bill of materials. We’ve moved from supplying a sensor to typically matching sensors with our inherently reliable and secure AURIX MCU. The next step is to offer sensor, MCU and power subsystem as a drop-in module.

A team at our Silicon Valley Innovation Centre is working with Reality AI to train a set of exterior mics to essentially “hear” the environment around a vehicle.

Lars Ulrich, VP of Automotive, Infineon Technolgies Americas

We also have capabilities in areas not commonly considered as part of an automotive sensor network, such as silicon MEMs microphones. A team at our Silicon Valley Innovation Centre (SVIC) is working with a company called Reality AI to train a set of exterior mics to essentially “hear” the environment around a vehicle. This is a completely new sensory input for cars and it will likely play an important role in future sensor suites.

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