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 one 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.
Schmid's interpretation was different. "Sales into automotive requires that MEMS makers change the way they develop and manufacture," he said. One of the main requirements is the documentation assembled during the MEMS design process to prove that safety has been considered and the measures that have been taken and that can be passed downstream to the tier-1 and on to the automobile maker.
Some car makers have reportedly been asking for ISO26262 compliance since early 2011 although most silicon and software, developed before the publishing of the standard, is inherently non-compliant. Schmid said that MEMS makers must respond if they want to sell to tier-1s.
Other concerns raised from the floor included that visual sensors would replace inertial MEMS as image sensors together with software can be better at analyzing dangerous situations ahead of impacts and helping with avoidance. Schmid tried to relieve some concern by making it clear there is room for a wealth of sensors in Continental systems "Think of your human senses. Your eyes didn't cannibalize your ears."
Related links and articles:
MEMS Industry Group
ST to drive into the automotive MEMS market
Report: MEMS will become 'essential gatekeepers' for systems
MEMS microphones boomed in 2011, says IHS-iSuppli
MEMS gyro sales to outpace accelerometers, says IHS
Startup MicroGen Systems aims to shake up energy harvesting