Interview with Davide Bruno, Head of Marketing and Application for MEMS Analog, MEMS and Sensors Group (AMS) Asia Pacific, STMicroelectronics
Can you share outlook of Automotive Sensors product growth -globally & India?
Speaking about MEMS sensors in Automotive market, we do not see any significant difference between the sensors adoption and sensors demand between India and the rest of the world. Considering the high production of two wheelers applications in India, we surely see many opportunities for a fast growth in this application with our current design awarded and design running for our high performance 3-axis low power consumption accelerometer for rollover detection as well as several new tracking applications bus and commercial vehicle with our 6-axis inertial module.
Which are the major areas driving this market- globally & India?
I believe that India will give a lot of interesting opportunities for company like ST, where our strengths of a very wide product portfolio will be an instrumental advantage to win several designs. In fact, with the ambitious National Electric Mobility Mission Plan, launched by the Government of India, not only we will see opportunities in the automotive sector, promoting hybrid and electric vehicles but also a boost in the modernization of the infrastructures that will eventually enable the autonomous car itself. We need to make a mind-effort to understand that having an autonomous cars, able to drive itself without any control of the driver (L5), implies that the environment all around the car is designed and interconnected with the car itself. You cannot just have V2V (vehicle to vehicle) communication, we must have Vehicle to infrastructure ready. V2X (vehicle to everything) is the key for a world of safe driving. What does it mean for ST? When, we are present in all applications in the field of Smart City, to modernize them, to hyper connect sub-system among them, and eventually with 5G with altogether with the cars. MEMS sensors will play an instrumental role, each sensor will be needed to be smart in the sense of having local post-processing and decision making capabilities. ST has already these products, for smart cities and started to have for smart cars as well introducing our machine learning core based 6 axis accelerometer and gyroscope products.
What are the key trends of this product?
As said, the trend is to connect the smart cars world with the smart cities world and our personal electronics. See for example the application that allow you to open your car by using your smartphone, this ST technology is already a reality. For MEMS sensors, the key trend is evolving in two main directions; 1) improve the classic parameter of a sensors, accuracy, stability and linearity. Company such ST that think, design and manufacture the sensor it is an enormous differentiation factor versus our competitor to win the race of introducing sensors always more accurate, more stable and with better performance in different environmental conditions. 2) improve performance of low power consumption, becoming smarter and added features. ST is leader in low power consumption 3 axis accelerometer and we are present in the key fob market. ST was the 1st one company releasing a AI-like core(machine learning core) for our 6-axis IMU and now ST is doing challenging itself by adding feature into the sensors able to detect if in the car there a passenger, how many and where they are seating.
What are the developments from your side?
As said in the previous question, we are exploring and have already first sample of presence sensor as something no one has done before. We are looking at application and technologies and methodologies used in Industrial that can be brought into the Automotive applications to enhance battery monitoring (in real time) and preventing battery maintenance.
On the manufacturing side, we are working with top equipment producer to push the limit of new geometry in the mechanical part of the MEMS to enhance the performance and the reliability of the mechanical parts.
On the packaging we are exploring the high performance giving by the ceramic packaging for safety application and collaborating with top packaging player to define the best package for these products categories.
Which are the sensors shows strongest growth?
Motion sensors, accelerometer, gyroscope are surely the king of the electrification of the car and how the car will become more safe and more autonomous, they are used in safety applications and for those reason their growth will be substantially high. But we cannot forget MEMS Mirrors that will be used in LiDAR application. Or we cannot forget all vision products that will monitor our health condition while we drive to avoid accidents because we drive drowsy or drunk or even distracted because texting while driving. 50% of us, text while driving.
But we see also great and greater potential also for motion sensors in other application, no-safety. Road noise cancellation will boost the usage of accelerometer and microphone, installation of radar will boost product such as inclinometer, 5G antenna for infrastructure need inclinometer as well, e-call and in-car-call will boost microphone sensor, possibly also MEMS speakers.
Highlight your products for Automotive sensors – globally & India?
As said, our MEMS offer is in general same. India market could be peculiar for the demand of 2wheeler but from MEMS product point of view there is not significant change. However, we are present in India with our technical team and very open to consider any customization of existing product or development of new MEMS product depending on the business case.
Main stream in MEMS for automotive are accelerometers, gyroscope. More and more we see that microphone and ToF product will increase the demand.