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Automotive sensors

This paper will provide a review of past, present and future automotive
sensors. Todays vehicles have become highly complex sophisticated electronic
control systems and the majority of innovations have been solely achieved through
electronics and the use of advanced sensors. A range of technologies have been
used over the past twenty years including silicon micro engineering, thick film,
capacitive, variable reluctance, optical and radar. The automotive sensor market
continues to grow with respect to vehicle production level in recognition of the
transition to electronically controlled electrically actuated systems. The environment
for these sensors continues to be increasingly challenging with respect to
robustness, reliability, quality and cost.

Todays vehicles are pervaded with a diverse range of sensors providing
critical data for performance, safety, comfort and convenience functions. The
measurement of inlet manifold absolute pressure in early ignition and fuelling control
systems was one of the first and most successful automotive applications of sensors,
and continues to this day to be an important parameter. Many other sensors
including crankshaft position, knock, air mass flow, exhaust gas and temperature
sensors have been subsequently used to enhance powertrain performance.
The trend towards ever increasing use of electronically controlled electrically
actuated systems on vehicles (for example, electrically powered steering, semiactive ride control, slip control systems and adaptive cruise control) has created new
challenges and opportunities for sensor developers. Traditional sensors have been
complemented by the addition of new sensors for new applications, for example,
long range radar, optical steering torque sensors, tyre pressure monitoring systems
and yaw rate sensors. Sensor cost continues to be a significant factor in the
selection criteria of automotive system designers, recognising the reward of large
production volumes if successful. In addition, sensor suppliers must also deliver the
robustness and quality targets demanded of this automotive market. Figure 1
provides some examples of sensors used on todays vehicles.
Engine Sensors
e.g. Inlet Manifold Pressure
Camshaft Position
Air Temperature
Fuel Temperature
Fuel Pressure
Coolant Temperature
EGR Valve Position
Air Mass Flow

Passenger Comfort
e.g. HVAC Temperature
Air Vent Positions
Seat Position
Window Position

Hybrid & Fuel Cell Vehicles

e.g. Hydrogen Leak Detection
Current Monitoring
Motor Speed & Position

Vehicle Control
e.g. Hydraulic Pressure
Lat/Long Acceleration
Wheel Speed
Yaw Rate
Ride Height Position
Steering Torque & Position

Crash Avoidance
e.g. Adaptive Cruise Control Radar
Parking Sensors
Lane Departure Warning
Driver Monitoring

Passenger Convenience
e.g. Remote Keyless Entry
Automatic Rain Wipers
Automatic Headlamps
Washer Fluid Level
Headlamp Levelling

Safety & Security

e.g. Theft Prevention
Occupant Airbag Systems
Seat Belt Pre-tensioners
Tyre Pressure Monitoring
Occupant Detection
Predestrian Detection

Figure 1. Examples of Automotive Sensor Applications

Sensors & their Applications
A typical top-of-the-range vehicle will comprise over 30 electrical/electronic
systems and more than 100 sensors. Although some sensor applications have been
dominated by one specific technology, e.g. accelerometers and silicon
microengineering, a number of sensor technologies do co-exist and compete within a
given application.From this task,we are about to explain only 3 sensors from
hundreds of sensors in Automotive industries which are:
a) Tyre Pressure sensor
b) Parking sensor
c) Automatic rain wipers

Parking sensor
Parking sensors are proximity sensors for road vehicles designed to alert the driver
to obstacles while parking. These systems, which use either electromagnetic or
ultrasonic sensors, are marketed variously by vehicle manufacturers under
proprietary brand names
This simple circuit can be used as an aid for sensing the distance between the rear
bumper of the car and any obstacle behind the car. The distance can be understood
from the combination of the LEDs (D5 to D7) glowing. At 25cm D7 will glow, at 20 cm
D7&D6 will glow and at 5cm D7, D6 and D5 will glow. When the obstacle is beyond
25 cm none of the above LEDs will glow.
Two ICs are used in the circuit. The IC1 (NE555) is wired as an astable multivibrator
for driving the IR Diode D1 to emit IR pulses. The operating frequency of the
transmitter is set to be 120Hz.The IR pulses transmitted by D1 will be reflected by
the obstacle and received by the D2 (IR photo diode).The received signal will be
amplified by IC2a.The peak of the amplified signal will be detected by the diode D4
and capacitor C4.R5 and R6 compensates the forward voltage drop of D4.The
output voltage of the peak detector will be proportional to the distance between cars
bumper and obstacle. The output of peak detector is given to the inputs of the other
three comparators IC2b,IC2c and IC2d inside the IC2 (LM324).The comparators
switch the status LEDs according to the input voltage their inverting inputs and

reference voltages at their non inverting inputs. Resistances R7 to R10 are used to
set the reference voltages for the comparators.

Circuit diagram with Parts list.