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Research project aims at more flexibility in sensor development and production

Research project aims at more flexibility in sensor development and production

Feature articles |
By Peter Clarke



Eleven partners have joined in the RoMulus project, targeting the objective of simplifying and accelerating the development of smart multi-sensor systems. As one of the goals, they intend to standardise and refine the process steps. This will make production more scalable – with such a data infrastructure and standardised process steps it will be possible to profitably manufacture a product independently of its quantity; even if very small quantities are produced it would not have a negative impact on profitability. This in turn could improve the competitive position of small and medium-sized enterprises.

In terms of technology, the RoMulus project aims at combining two sensing technologies in a very small space – MEMS and microelectronic sensor components. In this context, MEMS will be used to measure mechanical dimensions such as pressure or acceleration. The microelectronic sensors will be designed to acquire specific physical values like temperature, light intensity or chemical concentrations. The systems will also be designed to process the largest amounts of data possible. Plus, they need to be robust enough to operate reliably in rough industrial environments.

The sensor market is dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Such companies typically cannot render all services necessary for development and production of multi-sensor systems. Therefore, they depend on close collaboration with semiconductor manufacturers and engineering service providers for they research and development activities. “Our intention is to disentangle this collaboration and thus standardise the design and manufacturing process,” says project coordinator professor Eckhard Hennig from Hochschule Reutlingen university. Hennig sketches a scenario in which SMEs will be able to mix and match development services as well as electronic components according to the need of their customers for their specific industrial applications. “RoMulus will make it possible to systematically design robust, energy efficient multi-sensor systems and manufacture them even in small quantities,” comments Reinhard Neul from Robert Bosch GmbH which also is participating in the project. The list of participants includes optical systems manufacturer Carl Zeiss, robotics technology company Tetra, semiconductor manufacturer X-Fab, RFID expert Microsensys, as well as the universities of Reutlingen, Freiburg, Bremen and Technical University of Munich. The project management is handled by design automation R&D research company edacentrum. The project is designed to last for three years; it is in part funded by the German federal ministry for research and development.

More information about the RoMulus project: https://www.edacentrum.de/romulus

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