10 sensors for automotive design - Embedded.com

10 sensors for automotive design

Designing for automotive applications is getting more challenging with new technologies and features that are driving up the number — and types — of sensors used in vehicles today. Two of the newest, and perhaps the biggest, drivers are autonomous driving and safety systems.

Vehicles are packed with a range of sensors that measure things like pressure, temperature, position, speed, humidity, and occupation, along with a growing number of sensors for advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and cameras. Here is a selection of 10 sensors (not in any particular order) for a variety of automotive applications that can help point you in the right direction for your next design.

1. OmniVision OV9284 global shutter image sensor
Hitting the mark for in-cabin monitoring adoption, the OV9284 1-megapixel global shutter image sensor from OmniVision Technologies Inc. delivers a small size, low power consumption, and excellent near-infrared (NIR) quantum efficiency (QE). Aimed at new safety regulations for Level 3 semi-autonomous vehicles, in which driver state monitoring (DSM) is used to track the driver’s eye gaze, OmniVision claims that the OV9284 offers the industry’s best NIR quantum efficiency in a driver-monitoring image sensor — 12% at 940 nm.

In addition, power consumption is 90 mW at 60 frames per second (fps), which is touted as 30% lower than the nearest competitor. The global shutter sensor with OmniPixel 3-GS technology offers 1,280 × 800 resolution at video speeds of up to 120 fps and is housed in a 5,237 × 4,463-µm chip-scale package.

OmniVision’s OV9284 delivers a small size, low power consumption, and excellent NIR QE for driver state monitoring applications.

2. TDK IAM-20680 and IAM-20680HP IMUs
TDK Corp., through its InvenSense subsidiary, rolled out a new line of automotive high-accuracy MEMS motion sensors. The “MotionTracking” automotive-qualified IAM-20680 and IAM-20680HP six-axis inertial measurement units (IMUs) can help improve the absolute position of a vehicle in GNSS- and GPS-poor environments, such as tunnels, parking garages, and urban canyons. These MEMS sensors can be used to improve the estimate of the position, direction, and speed of a vehicle when the satellite signal is poor or non-existent as well as improve the quality of the position estimation when the satellite signal is strong, said TDK.

Touted as the smallest six-axis automotive-qualified sensor (combining a three-axis gyroscope and a three-axis accelerometer), the IAM-20680 is claimed as the industry’s only device featuring 16-bit accelerometers and 16-bit gyroscopes in a series-production car today. The operating temperature range is –40°C to 85°C. If you’re looking for a beefier and higher-temperature-range IMU, the IAM-20680HP, a high-performance version of the IAM-20680, offers an extended operating temperature range of –40°C to 105°C and high gyroscope and offset thermal stability. It is pin-, package-, and register-compatible with the IAM-20680.

In addition, the IAM-20680 and IAM-20680HP are designed into the new InvenSense Coursa Drive software solution, inertial-aided positioning software for autonomous vehicle (AV) platform developers. The Coursa Drive is a high-performance extension of the InvenSense Positioning Library (IPL); it improves inertial-only vehicle positioning to <0.2% of distance traveled. This precision is required for maintaining decimeter lane-level vehicle positioning in GNSS/perception system environments.


TDK’s six-axis IAM-20680HP and IAM-20680 offer excellent temperature stability that enables navigational driving through challenging environments and low sensitivity error that keeps the car turning correctly.

3. Vishay VCNL4030X01 optical sensor
The Vishay Semiconductors VCNL4030X01 combines photo detectors for proximity and ambient light, a signal conditioning IC, a 16-bit ADC, and a high-power IRED in a small 4 × 2.36 × 0.75-mm surface-mount package, saving board space and increasing design flexibility in multi-sensor applications. The AEC-Q101–qualified proximity and ambient light sensor is versatile and can be used in a host of applications including mobile devices, smart homes, industrial, and automotive.

Using the company’s Filtron technology, it allows ambient light spectral sensitivity close to that of the human eye while offering excellent background light cancellation capabilities, said Vishay. In addition, the sensor offers a programmable interrupt function that can set both high and low thresholds to reduce overall power consumption.

The VCNL4030X01’s built-in ambient light photodiode offers detection from 0.004 lx to 4.2 klx, which allows the device to operate in dark or high-transparency lens designs. The VCNL4030X01’s proximity sensor uses intelligent cancellation to eliminate crosstalk, and a smart persistence scheme offers a fast response time and accuracy when an object is detected. The device can detect objects at distances up to 300 mm.


The Vishay Semiconductors VCNL4030X01 combines photo detectors for proximity and ambient light, a signal conditioning IC, a 16-bit ADC, and a high-power IRED in a small surface-mount package.

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