The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have published regulations that require all cars, SUVs, trucks, and vans to have rear-view visibility systems that started May 1, 2018. In fact, until recently, the rear-view camera was the only camera used in many car models and was considered an excellent safety feature. Modern vehicles have evolved significantly in the past few years, adopting innovative safety features that include blind-spot detection, surround-view monitoring, forward and rear collision warning, lane keep assistance, and autonomous parking assistance. These features utilize cameras and sensors to inform the driver about the car and its surroundings via the dashboard display. Now, there are at least six cameras present in high-end vehicles. There may be video display systems in cars like DVD players and TVs for passengers.
Since its initiation in the early 20th century, the automotive industry has evolved significantly, adopting many innovations, changes and adaptations. Modern cars feature sophisticated capabilities such as the backup camera, a full-featured infotainment system, smartphone docks, GPS navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, and several other advanced features. Not only that, some of the recent car models are capable of autonomous driving, forward and rear collision detection, and autonomous parking. It is easily imaginable that the numbers of electronic components used in a vehicle are proliferating. At the same time, the requirement for miniaturization of the electronic components is becoming critical to make space for new components.
The semiconductor industry is producing leadless packages of integrated circuits (ICs) to make room for the enormous number of electronic components and meet modern-day vehicles' safety and reliability requirements. A big challenge is the lack of visibility of the solder joints on the printed circuit boards (PCBs) during the post package assembly process. The connections are beneath the package and are not visible from the top and the side. So you cannot say for sure if the IC is adequately bonded to the PCB or not. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have been using X-ray machines to detect unreliable solder joints. It is expensive and time-consuming to do so.
Moreover, this has not proven effective with multilayer boards or boards with complex layouts and routing procedures. Each vehicle PCB has to go through a strict automatic visual inspection (AVI) post assembly to comply with safety and reliability standards. The goal is to ensure that every electrical joint is adequately soldered and connections are reliable.
Motor vehicles have gone through much progress since their inception. Modern cars include autonomous and semi-autonomous driving, anti-lock braking systems, electric power steering, forward and rear collision warning, lane assistant, autonomous parking assistant, and automatic emergency braking. Advanced features such as GPS navigation, interior mood lighting, surround-view camera, advanced infotainment system, active antenna are standard in most modern vehicles.
In 1885, Karl Benz, a German engineer, invented the first functional automobile. Over the past 130 years, automobiles have evolved considerably. Semtech is proud to be a part of the automotive technology journey and is aiding this evolution by offering key technologies that contribute to the advancement of safety, reliability and performance of automobiles. In commemoration of the inventor’s birthday, November 25, we take a look at some key automotive applications for integrated circuits (IC), and highlight Semtech’s contribution (or participation) to their implementation.