DetroitThe end of the Convergence 2006 conference saw no letup in interesting automotive (and other) electronics developments.
In my travels among the vendors at the show, I was able to check out a demo at Analog Devices of their new Automotive Battery Sensor. This device measures battery voltage, current draw, and temperature in order to gauge battery health and state of charge. First application of the sensor is in new BMWs, spurred by the automaker's desire to better manage power available to run the burgeoning array of electronic features in a modern car and prolong battery life.
The device is a 7-mm square package mounted on the negative battery terminal. The sensor allows for more efficient load sharing and intelligent and optimized charging via the alternator, for better fuel economy. A full LIN bus transceiver in the sensor allows for such functionality to be integrated into the power control architecture.
At the National Instruments (NI) booth, Joel Shapiro, product marketing manager for auto and industrial, talked about how open hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) testing, based on the company's PXI PC-based platform for test, measurement, and control, is leveraging design tools already available to design engineers. Such tools include, say, Simulink and other models. The approach is very cost effective, he says, because it allows for re-use of software and hardwareas with one of the company's development partners, MicroNova electronic GmbH, which used it to design a control system for a 12-cylinder engine
NI also had news of interest for the kid in every engineer, as well as all kids. Namely, the latest version of LEGO's robotics education toy (Mindstorms NXT). The kit, which has new sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, and an update of NI LabVIEW for programming, allows making robot devices, including a transformer-like humanoid design. If your kids won't help you, there is a startup routine to guide you in having your first droid up and running in 15 minutes.