Infineon: All car radar options are open

Infineon: All car radar options are open

Interviews |
By Rich Pell

There are only two sensor technologies in automotive electronics that are not represented in Infineon’s product spectrum, says Ralf Bornefeld, Vice President and General Manager Sense & Control at the Munich-based chipmaker, half jesting. These technologies are CMOS image sensors and inertial sensors. Otherwise, the company claims to have the broadest portfolio of automotive sensors, including pressure, magnetic field, and radar.

And yes, another sensor type cannot (yet?) be found in Infineon’s catalogue: Lidar. “Lidar is greatly on the rise”, Bornefeld said, avoiding however a clear statement as to the company’s related plans.

All-CMOS radar ICs however are currently in the planning. However, these devices are not exactly the silver bullet for all kinds of radar applications in the car, Bornefeld says. “In the discussion about all-CMOS radar, it is necessary to throw some paradigms overboard.”

The first one: CMOS is always cheaper than the currently prevailing SiGe technology. “This is only true if the volume is high enough,” says the Infineon manager. Yes, there are applications that “presumably” will yield sufficient volumes, but not all. 

And, second, a highly integrated CMOS radar chip is possible, but it does not necessarily make sense. Such a high integration makes only sense in cases when the application requires little flexibility. The higher the degree of standardization, the higher are the chances to beat SiGe with all-CMOS implementations. In other words: “The more flexibility is required by the application, the higher is the chance to remain competitive with SiGe in the medium term up to ten years.”

In any case, the radar technology is far from hitting its technological limits, Bornefeld says. “Radar is generating ever-higher resolution images. We already see approaches to combine it with downstream data processing based on deep learning schemes.”

The market for radar sensors continues to grow strongly. There are two strong market drivers: The first is autonomous braking, a feature required in future NCAP scenarios and consequently currently in strong demand from automotive OEMs. The other is the requirement to recognize so-called Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs), a term describing pedestrians, two-wheelers and similar traffic participants.

In the US, 20 OEMs have committed to include such emergency braking functions in their vehicles as standard from 2022 onwards. The most convincing argument in favor of radar is its affordability. “Radar today is the most cost-efficient technology for such applications – cheaper than camera-based image processing,” says Bornefeld.

At the Sensor + Test trade fair where eeNews Europe met Bornefeld, Infineon also proved that its strategy in the field of automotive sensing technologies is not limited to radar. As a new development, the company introduced a rotation sensor based on the GMR (Giant Magnetoresistance) effect that – in contrast to electromechanical resolvers currently used in motors, oil pumps, coolant pumps and similar rotating applications – can be integrated into the shaft.

“We want to make the resolver obsolete,” Bornefeld says. The new sensor has probably good chances to succeed: Being an all-semiconductor sensing technology, it requires much less space than traditional resolvers. Plus, its position inside the shaft protects it against magnetic fields.

Related articles:
NXP to focus on all CMOS radar
NXP shrinks radar sensors to mass-market size
Demand for radar systems boosts Infineon’s chip production
Affordable real-time 3D LiDAR sensor advances vehicle automation

If you enjoyed this article, you will like the following ones: don't miss them by subscribing to :    eeNews on Google News


Linked Articles