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Exploring the Role of Embedded Systems in the Automotive Industry

December 19th, 2023

Category: automotive industry,embedded systems

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Posted by: Team TA

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Embedded systems have progressed to become the technological backbone of automobiles, managing everything from engine optimization and safety features to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and a variety of in-car entertainment. According to Data Bridge Market Research, in 2021, the market for automotive embedded systems was valued at a whopping USD 4.48 billion and it’s expected to reach an even more impressive USD 7.83 billion by 2029!

What are Automotive Embedded Systems?

Computer systems that are built to carry out a specific function inside of a larger system are known as embedded systems. Embedded systems have been used in the automotive industry to monitor and regulate various kinds of vehicle functions. Examples include Electronic Control Units (ECUs) regulating engine performance, and Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) to improve safety of the car. These systems are the nerve-centers of modern vehicles, ensuring improved functionality, safety features, and advanced driver assistance.

Impact of Automotive Embedded Systems on Modern Vehicles

Around 30 microcontrollers are found in the average modern car, and 60 to 70 microcontrollers are found in some high-end models. Airbags, anti-lock brakes, in-car entertainment systems, black boxes, satellite radio, telematics, emission control, traction control, drive-by-wire, automated parking, backup collision, sensors, night vision, and heads-up displays are some of the embedded systems that are most frequently found in automobiles. They manage engine control, monitor vehicle diagnostics, enable communication between various vehicle systems, and provide real-time feedback to improve the driving experience. Automotive Embedded Systems guarantees better safety, improved performance, and a more sophisticated driving experience.

Applications in Modern Vehicles

1. Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)

The ABS, integrated into the car, uses sensors and Electronic Control Units (ECUs) to monitor wheel speed and avoid lock-up during braking. ABS can change brake pressure in real time, offering maximum traction and avoiding skidding. ABS improves vehicle control, shortens stopping distances, and lowers the danger of accidents by quickly altering the braking force on individual wheels, especially in poor road conditions.

2. Airbag Systems

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that airbags have significantly decreased driver mortality in frontal crashes by 29%. An airbag system, which consists of embedded sensors and control units, is a vital safety component of contemporary automobiles. The embedded system’s gyroscopes and accelerometers pick up on sudden deceleration, which could indicate an accident. Within milliseconds, the system responds by causing the airbags to deploy. Upon deployment, the airbags act as a cushion, reducing the force of impact between occupants and the vehicle interior.

3. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) can help prevent human error, which is the primary cause of almost all auto accidents. Among its features are autonomous emergency braking, blind spot detection, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, and pedestrian detection. ADAS makes use of a variety of embedded systems-controlled sensors, cameras, radar, and lidar imaging technologies that are all built into the vehicle. These systems work collaboratively to gather real-time data about the vehicle’s surroundings and the driver’s actions.

4. In-Car Entertainment Systems

The global automobile infotainment market is expected to reach USD 124.97 billion by 2027, from a 2020 estimation of USD 56.87 billion, according to a survey by Allied Market Research. Modern cars come equipped with entertainment systems that offer a wide variety of features and recreational choices. Touchscreens, audio systems, navigation, and connectivity features are a few examples. Through the integration of capabilities like hands-free communication, navigation, and other functions, these embedded technologies not only improve safety but also minimize driver distractions.

5. Embedded Navigation System

GPS-based navigation, which includes circuitry with a GPS receiver, gyroscope, DVD-ROM, main controller, and display system, is a significant automobile embedded system application. By comparing the latitude and longitude readings with previously recorded maps, the GPS receiver gathers this data. Road direction and speed data are provided by sensors and gyroscopes. After processing this data, the main controller simplifies the user’s route directing by showing a navigation map on the display screen.

6. Adaptive Cruise Control

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) utilizes embedded sensors, radar, and control units to maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle ahead. Unlike traditional cruise control, ACC can automatically adjust the vehicle’s speed based on the traffic conditions, slowing down or accelerating as needed. This system relies on embedded processors to interpret data from sensors and make split-second decisions for optimal speed control. Each car has a laser transceiver or microwave radar equipment upfront to determine the direction and speed of other cars that are approaching from behind. This functions according to the principle of the Doppler Effect, which deals with wave frequency variation.

7. Fuel Injection Systems

Fuel injection systems improve vehicle performance and engine efficiency significantly.  These systems use real-time data from multiple sensors to accurately control the fuel distribution to the engine cylinders through embedded processors. By enabling the ideal air-fuel mixture, this dynamic control maximizes combustion efficiency and lowers emissions. Fuel injection systems, as opposed to conventional carbureted systems, react quickly to shifting driving conditions, guaranteeing reliable and effective engine running.

8. Embedded Rain-Sensing System

Operating on the principle of completing a circuit with water, the rain sensor activates when raindrops touch its surface, sending a signal to the microcontroller. This data is processed by the microcontroller, which then commands the motor driver IC to initiate the necessary action. In response, the motor driver IC operates a servomotor, mimicking the movement of a car’s wiper. The embedded nature of this system ensures seamless integration with the vehicle’s overall electronics, providing an automated and hands-free solution.

9. Climate Control Systems

According to a report by Grand View Research, the global automotive climate control market size is expected to reach USD 22.6 billion by 2028, with advancements in embedded technology playing a significant role in this growth. Embedded sensors, microcontrollers, and actuators work collaboratively to manage temperature, airflow, and other climate parameters in real time. Smart algorithms optimize the operation of climate control systems, minimizing energy consumption and contributing to overall vehicle efficiency.

10. Automotive Security Systems

Embedded technology has revolutionized automotive security systems, significantly enhancing the protection of vehicles against theft and unauthorized access. Tesla’s electric vehicles feature Sentry Mode, an advanced security system powered by embedded technology that uses the vehicle’s external cameras to record suspicious activity and activate an alarm. Embedded security systems like keyless entry, biometric authentication, GPS tracking, and advanced alarm systems offer innovative solutions to protect against evolving threats in the automotive industry.

Final Thoughts

Embedded systems are not just for luxury features in expensive cars; they are crucial for the performance and safety of all modern vehicles. Their importance will continue as electric and hydrogen cars become more common, and research into self-driving vehicles grows. Embedded technology and smart systems can not only create significantly safer and more environmentally friendly automobiles but also collect more data to provide drivers with better driving instructions and route recommendations. 

Automotive embedded systems also confront challenges such as cybersecurity risks, system complexity, timely software updates, interoperability issues, power constraints, cost management, regulatory compliance, and adapting to rapid technological advancements. These challenges demand continuous innovation and collaboration to ensure the optimal performance, safety, and reliability of embedded systems in vehicles. 

At TA, we specialize in turning ideas into reality. Contact us today, and let’s explore how we can contribute to the success of your upcoming business project, ensuring it stands out in any industry, including the dynamic field of automobiles.

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