The Ubiquity of the Auto

Jason Lomberg, North American Editor, PSD



You don’t have to go very far in this industry without coming across an automotive application. The humble auto is the nexus of several emerging technologies including the Internet of Things (IoT), alternative energy, and advanced battery storage.

This month, we shine the spotlight on “Automotive Electronics & Infotainment,” and as expected, our contributors came at it from wildly different perspectives.

You might’ve heard of this covert little topic called the IoT – if not, we’ve mentioned it a few dozen times lately. And there’s a good reason for that. The IoT is the logical progression of every wireless system, smart home, wearable technology, and anything where a user shares data with other users (so everything – hence the IoT’s nom de plume, the Internet of Everything).

But it’s the automotive space where the IoT really shines (or it will, once it’s up and running). Vehicular mishaps cause 30,000-40,000 deaths each year, so a massive network of devices (and vehicles) that’s constantly sharing data could drastically cut down on automotive fatalities.

Mike Branch, with Geotab, delves into the IoT’s safety potential with the piece “Designing for a Safer Future.” Branch covers all the major and minor IoT systems that can make our roads less hectic, including Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I), Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V), and of course, Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X).

More than anything, V2X communications could dramatically change the automotive landscape.

“With Wi-Fi and 5G serving as the backbone, V2X enhances automation with capabilities that will further improve safety and transportation infrastructure,” notes Branch.

Meanwhile, ROHM Semiconductor's Satya Dixit discusses how we can improve “Mild Hybrid EV Power Supply Systems with High Step-Down Ratio DC/DC Converters.”

Amongst other factoids, Dixit explains why electric motors improve fuel economy (beyond just MPG). “In the case of conventional vehicles with gasoline-powered engines, a lead-acid battery charged by the alternator powers all electrical systems, including lighting and AC. Consequently, fuel efficiency decreases as the electrical systems are used,” Dixit says.

The final article I’d like to highlight mentions why a battery monitoring system (BMS) is mandatory for today’s electric and hybrid automobiles.

According to Cosimo Carriero, with Analog Devices, the BMS analyzes several different physical attributes to keep any single cell of the battery pack inside its safe operating area. Since Li-Ion is the preferred choice for electric and hybrid vehicles, a BMS is essential.

“BMS not only allows you to extract the highest quantity of charge from your battery pack, but also lets you manage the charge and discharge cycles in a safer way, which results in an extended life,” notes Carriero.

That’s just a small sampling of this month’s automotive buffet, and I hope you enjoy the feast!

Best Regards,

Jason Lomberg

North American Editor, PSD