ZURICH, Switzerland – While there is much anticipation of high-end functions for sensors in automobiles, to aid self-parking and even autonomous vehicles, a panel of experts agreed it was likely to be the more mundane legal mandates, such as environmental pollution and safety, that would keep demand for automotive MEMS sensors climbing for the foreseeable future.
However, the panel, convened at the MEMS Executive Congress Europe held here on Tuesday (March 20), also highlighted the impact that a recently published standard, ISO26262, is going to have on makers of automotive MEMS. MEMS makers are going to have to implement more complex design procedures for devices if they wish to carry on selling in to the automotive supply chain, according to a panelist from automotive tier-1 supplier Continental.
ISO26262 also applies more generally to silicon and software although the role of MEMS sensors in a number of safety-critical systems makes the standard particularly relevant to MEMS components.
The general automotive MEMS scene was set by panelist Richard Dixon, MEMS analyst with market research firm IHS iSuppli. He said the automotive market had recovered well from the stall of 2008-2009. He said the market for automotive MEMS sensors had grown 28 percent in 2010 and, more surprisingly, by 15 percent in 2011 to a value of $2.2 billion. For the period 2010 to 2015 the industry is entering a faster growth phase with a CAGR of 10 percent to take the market to $3 billion in 2015, he added.
Dixon named the usual MEMS sensor suspects, pressure sensors in the powertrain and tire pressure monitoring system, accelerometers in the airbag safety system and gyroscopes in electronic stability control (ESC) systems. He said that iSuppli has spotted 36 design slots for MEMS in the automobile but that growth would come as more regions adopted mandates that demanded these slots be filled. In 2012 Japan is adopting an ESC mandate that will drive some growth while China is expected to require TPMS over the next three years.
Meanwhile automobile purchasing worldwide is set to increase from 70 million cars in 2012 to 100 million cars in 2015. In terms of growth beyond that it is likely to be sensors to monitor and help automotive companies cut down on emissions, Dixon said.
Hannu Laatikainen, executive vice president responsible for transportation business at MEMS vendor VTI Technologies Oy, in the process of being acquired by Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd., 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.
Automotive panelists at MEMS Executive Congress Europe held in Zurich, Switzerland. From left to right: Bernhard Schmid of Continental, Marc Osajda of Freescale Semiconductor Inc., Hannu Laatikainen of VTI Technologies and Richard Dixon of IHS-iSuppli.
I think that the key point here is for the Tier1 to define a safety architecture at the system level. The choice of the safety architecture will determine to what ASIL level the silicon devices (including sensors) will have to be designed.
The mistake in my opinion is to ask ASIL D for everything upfront. Using ASIL D components in an application does not guarantee that the application will be ASIL D.
Freescale is specifically adressing functional safety through its Safe Assure program in order to offer silicon solutions that will fit our customer needs.
Have a nice week end,
Marc Osajda, Freescale
That was kinda the Freescale guy's initial position. However, the Continental executive made his point: there's work to be done and the Tier-1's expect their suppliers to do as much of it as possible.
The Conti guy seemed to indicate that MEMS components (and general ICs and software as well as far as I can tell) have to documented DURING DESIGN for the purposes of ISO 26262.
Obviously, that has not been done for most devices and LOCs currently deployed.
Hi Peter, thanks for the follow up. It looks like the ISO 26262 is an adaptation of IEC-61508. I haven't read the ISO document but it would seem that it may introduce some additional requirements specification on the 'system' but not at the component level. So the burden is more on the adopters of MEMS in vehicles than on the MEMS vendors. I doubt if design procedures at component-level change significantly from what they are now; component vendors may need to provide additional doc's as @Dave.Dykstra also point out below.
Quite an interesting story. Of course, the manufacturers will have some issues at first until they get things lined up well to be able to readily provide the required documentation. The adoption here is probably not radically different than the adoption of quality standards and the added requirements can probably be met by an expansion of those methods to produce the proper audit trail. And, of course, this will ultimately have an impact on parts delivery schedule and price, but much of this is probably long overdue.
I am not an expert on ISO/TS 16949 (2009) or ISO 26262 but from what I can see the former is a quality management standard that does not specifically address functional safety.
Would it be possible to be ISO 16949 compliant and produce an unsafe vehicle?
The point of ISO 26262, as fas I can see, is to prevent, as far as is possible/feasible, the design/manufacture of an unsafe vehicle or a vehicle that could become unsafe AND should there be a failure that produces a dangerous situation to have an audit trail that means the vehicle maker and/or an upstream supplier can be held accountable.
@Peter Clarke: it seems like some of the regulating authorities are making things harder for us engineers. On one end, (as you mention, the legal requirement in France to carry a breathalyzer in the car, mandatory tire pressure monitoring systems, etc), there are must-comply requirements while the other, like ISO26262, are putting additional design requirements.
There are existing quality requirements that ensure products designed are up to the standard. What is deficient in ISO/TS 16949 (2009) that ISO26262 aims to fill?
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