Internet access, electrification, new safety requirements and autonomous vehicles are coming down the road.

Ed.: This is the sixth of an occasional series by the authors of the 2017 iNEMI Roadmap. This information is excerpted from the Roadmap, which is available from iNEMI (

The main factor that distinguishes automotive products from other iNEMI product sectors is the operating environment. The harsh environment and high temperature requirements force improvements in components and materials. Components (e.g., ceramic and tantalum capacitors, ICs) must operate at a high temperature without substantial derating or functional performance decrease, and without additional cost. Materials such as laminates, solder masks, adhesives, underfills, coatings, and solder also need to perform without degradation at high temperature extremes and in conditions that include moisture and chemical exposure. Assembly and manufacturing/test equipment requirements are also critical because of reliability requirements.

Many automotive product attributes, such as cost, density and components, overlap other product emulators. Increasing density is important for automotive applications because of cost, size and weight reductions. For example, the increase in corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards to 54.5 mpg by 2025 will drive demand for lighter, more weight-efficient materials.

Automotive applications are also extremely cost-sensitive and therefore require cost targets similar to those of the consumer product emulators. The automotive product sector must adapt other emulators’ technologies to meet the high temperature, environmental and reliability requirements cost-effectively.

Paradigm Shifts

There are four major paradigm shifts occurring in the automotive sector that will play a major role in electronics development.

Electric vehicles. Companies are investing huge amounts of R&D dollars in the electrification of vehicles. Countries are also providing money for development projects and starting up facilities related to vehicle electrification and advanced battery development. New car companies view this radical change as an opportunity to become a vehicle producer, and the established players are teaming up with some of these new players to form partnerships to develop electric vehicles.

Connected vehicles. Internet access in the vehicle is growing rapidly. The challenge will be the human machine interface (HMI) so that the driver is not distracted. Voice recognition and voice synthesis will be important so that information can be spoken to the driver, and reconfigurable displays will allow the driver to select which content will be displayed at any time. Limits are needed so that driver cannot read text messages or emails while they are operating the vehicle.

Safety systems. Safety systems have expanded to include adaptive cruise control to maintain a safe distance, detection of lane departures and of vehicles in blind spots, warnings if a driver is falling asleep and improved vision for driving at night and/or in foggy conditions. There are also systems to prevent collisions and control vehicles with little or no passenger interaction. Many of these systems already exist today. The key is to reduce their cost so they can be included in lower-end vehicles.

Autonomous driving vehicles. Vehicle safety, sensing and connectivity technologies will need to be improved to make self-driving automobiles a reality. Sensing technology will need to develop to a point that allows for life and death decisions to be made. Technologies to predict unpredictable human behaviors must be integrated into vehicle sensing technology. Connectivity from vehicle to vehicle, vehicle to pedestrian, and vehicle to infrastructure will need to be perfected. Autonomous driving vehicles will require a means of weighting ethical and moral issues – if a crash is inevitable, how will damage to internal and external participants be managed?

Autonomous Driving Vehicles

The move toward autonomous driving vehicles poses some of the most significant challenges for the automotive product sector. An iNEMI-organized session held earlier this year at SMTA Europe’s Electronics Harsh Environments Conference focused on some of the challenges of, and requirements for, autonomous vehicles. Discussions from this meeting and a follow-up webinar indicate that the move to autonomous vehicles is already having an impact on the traditional automotive manufacturing supply chain.

There is a need for new standards, and systems will require higher levels of security. There are also new demands for materials development and changes to traditional qualification methodologies to meet the requirements of the longer use cycles expected for autonomous vehicles (which could be running 24/7), as well as the electrification of such vehicles. The key challenges identified include:

  • Developing new models for use cycles of autonomous applications.
  • Better understanding the physics of failure and develop relevant testing methods.
  • Recognizing the impact of low-standoff components on reliability and the need for cleaning.
  • Requirements for coatings and encapsulants for miniaturization in automotive applications.

iNEMI is investigating areas where industry collaboration may effectively address some of these challenges. Anyone interested in getting involved should contact Steve Payne (

Chuck Richardson was formerly director of Roadmapping for iNEMI ( and is now active within iNEMI in the area of strategic projects. He was a major contributor to, and editor of, the Automotive Product Emulator Group (PEG) chapter of the 2017 iNEMI Roadmap.

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