7 ways semiconductors are accelerating the future of automotive technology

As the world drives toward vehicle electrification, semiconductors enable automakers to optimize performance, accelerate development and make electric vehicles (EVs) more affordable for more people

30 Nov 2021

Change is accelerating in the automotive industry as the world heads toward what looks to be an all-electric-vehicle future. Auto manufacturers are making bold claims about how different the cars of 2030 will look compared to models on showroom floors today.  

It will only be a matter of time before auto manufacturers roll out the last combustion engine on the lot. The car will change forever. So, what will it look like?

Like many of you, I am in the market for an EV. Today, we have access to countless online reviews and reports, and we are all doing our research to find the best vehicle for us. The checklist is long, and I know I want my next car to be technically innovative and also reliable, affordable, safe and comfortable. Here are some of the capabilities I’m looking for:

  • Fast charging and longer driving range between charges

  • High performance and safe handling on the road

  • Real-time vehicle diagnostics with configurability based on my needs and preferences safely displayed in my field of view

  • Seamless connectivity to access content across all of my devices

  • Premium audio and voice performance for the best sound and user experience

  • Personalization of my in-vehicle experience – including seat functions, lighting options and climate control – with an innovative and adaptable command center at my fingertips

  • Advanced safety features, like blind-spot monitoring and front-end radar, to avoid accidents and protect my passengers and me

Keith standing be charging vehicle

To make this checklist a reality, the pace of automotive innovation has to accelerate. The speed and frequency of collaboration between semiconductor suppliers, system engineers and automotive manufacturers will only grow. Here are seven areas where semiconductors, and specifically our company, can help automakers achieve your dream-car checklist:

1.    High-voltage battery

As the heart of an EV, the battery requires highly accurate monitoring to drive longer distances between charges. Our innovative portfolio of battery monitors and balancers provides high-accuracy cell measurements, further improves safety features and integrates additional functionality to increase accuracy and reduce system costs.

2.    Wireless battery management system

Imagine having the flexibility to design a high-voltage battery management system that is wireless – removing the need for bulky wiring while improving driving range, performance and overall maintenance. Our proprietary wireless protocol and set of integrated circuits (ICs), which includes real-time connectivity, enable auto manufacturers to make this happen.

3.    Fast and efficient charging

As EVs move to higher voltages and more efficient on-board chargers, they require sophisticated power topologies with real-time digital control solutions. Our real-time microcontroller portfolio works seamlessly with our isolated gate drivers and fully integrated GaN power devices to enable fast and efficient EV charging.

4.    Optimum performance on the road

The traction inverter system is critical to enable optimal performance. These systems require high computational performance coupled with control features, like those from our embedded processing chips, to work in concert with the dynamic output current control, like those from our isolated gate driver portfolio. This allows you to maintain ideal motor torque while improving overall system efficiency.

5.    Connectivity, display, camera and sound options

Our TI DLP® Technology, automotive-qualified processors and wireless connectivity devices allow auto manufacturers to enhance and customize display, connectivity and multiple personalization options throughout the vehicle. Our FPD-link serializers and deserializers, which transmit uncompressed video data within automotive systems, enable higher-resolution cameras for adaptive driver assistance systems and displays. In addition, our automotive Ethernet portfolio enables higher speed networking and our automotive speaker amplifier portfolio delivers multi-channel class D premium audio performance.

6.    Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS)

With a vision for a collision-free future, automakers are creating a safer driving experience while building a foundation to enhance automation in vehicles. Our cars are beginning to take actions similar to those of drivers, such as sensing exterior and interior conditions, communicating that data to the rest of the vehicle, and processing a decision. Our portfolio of automotive-qualified ICs, including highly-accurate radar SoCs, powerful processors and reliable power management products, enables you to build high-performance ADAS.

7.    Enhanced vehicle safety

Functional safety standards have changed the way the industry thinks about designing existing automotive systems, improving the driving experience with advanced safety features, reliability and performance. From wireless battery management systems to integrated powertrains, functional safety is a critical component in nearly every automotive system. Our broad portfolio of automotive-qualified ICs, along with the associated functional safety documentation, helps engineers achieve their desired Automotive Safety Integrity Levels for their systems to enable a safer driving experience.

It’s no secret that the automotive industry continues to evolve rapidly, and what’s considered state of the art today will be out of date tomorrow. Semiconductors are helping auto manufacturers remove barriers, lower costs, reduce complexity and meet safety requirements to create the vehicle of the future. As we work together to drive automotive innovation forward, we can have what’s on all of our checklists – the best and safest driving experience imaginable.

This article was adapted from a keynote address at our company’s TI Live! Tech Exchange

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