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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

New Tech Tuesdays: Three Automotive Sensors That Can Measure the Life of Your Vehicle Tommy Cummings

New Tech Tuesdays

Join journalist Tommy Cummings for a weekly look at all things interesting, new, and noteworthy for design engineers.

Sensors are designed to, obviously, sense things. In automotive applications, sensors are developed to help drivers keep up with the health status of their vehicles just by glancing at the instrument panel.

In the early stages of sensor technology, sensors were limited to one part of the car system, such as the fuel gauge (which, in my case, became an ill-advised challenge when the low-fuel light came on).

As these systems developed, the design of modern sensors advanced to function under one centralized system intended for driver convenience. Multiple sensors within these systems can ensure the vehicle’s efficiency. Most of these sensors make sure the vehicle gets the most from its fuel down to its coolants. If these fluids are affected, the engine performance can be influenced.

In modern vehicles, proximity sensors can assist drivers in reverse, humidity sensors can adjust the vehicle's interior temperature, and image sensors aid drivers in monitoring their surroundings.

The emergence of electric vehicles takes sensors to a whole new level. Common types of EV sensors include motor speed, wheel speed, accelerometers, airflow, temperature, and parking aid sensors. Many of these sensors, including those for upcoming vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology, are developed for improved safety. Other sensors have been developed to address environmental concerns.

In this week's New Tech Tuesday, we'll look at a diverse range of automotive sensors from Murata Electronics, Texas Instruments, and STMicroelectronics designed to improve vehicle life and efficiency.

Current Sensors, Accelerometers, and Machine Learning

Texas Instruments TMCS1100/TMCS1100-Q1 Hall-Effect Current Sensors measure DC or AC with high accuracy, excellent linearity, and temperature stability. The sensors' low-drift, temperature-compensated signal chain provides less than 1 percent full-scale error across the device's temperature range. The sensors' inherent galvanic insulation provides a 600V lifetime working voltage with 3kVRMS of galvanic isolation between the current path and circuitry. Applications include motor and load control, power factor correction, overcurrent protection, and DC and AC power monitoring.

Murata Electronics manufactures and supplies sensitive (low-g) acceleration and inclination sensors to the global automotive industry. Murata's line of Automotive Sensors includes both digital and analog accelerometers, gyros, and combined sensors, including 1-axis gyros and 3-axis accelerometers. Murata also offers product development starting with in-house silicon sensor element design. It also has custom ASIC development and application-specific packaging with calibrated and tested sensors.

STMicroelectronics' ASM330LHHX Automotive 6-Axis Inertial Module is AEC-Q100 compliant and features an extended temperature range from -40 to +105°C and has a full-scale acceleration range of ±2/±4/±8/±16g. This system-in-package also features a 3-axis digital accelerometer, a 3-axis digital gyroscope, and is designed to address automotive non-safety applications like dead reckoning, vehicle-to-everything (V2X), telematics, eTolling, anti-theft systems, impact detection, and crash reconstruction.

Tuesday's Takeaway

Sensors have improved the safety aspects and electrical design of vehicles while improving the driving experience. Sensors are guaranteed continued growth as they provide increased benefits to vehicles, including the development of electric vehicles (which leads to autonomous driving) in incalculable ways. Think about that the next time one of your dashboard panel lights flashes.

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Tommy Cummings is a freelance writer/editor based in Texas. He's had a journalism career that has spanned more than 40 years. He contributes to Texas Monthly and Oklahoma Today magazines. He's also worked at The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. Tommy worked at Mouser Electronics from 2018 to 2021 as a technical content and product content specialist.

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