How positions, levels, locations, and changes are sensed and measured in real time within automotive systems has become a critical capability for continuous control and function management in today’s increasingly mechatronic automotive environment. Micronas, with its linear Hall-effect sensor units, has done unique and pioneering work in advancing this ability in an innovative way, with great commercial success.
The innovation that Micronas has effected is a flexible, intelligent sensing and output device that combines a Hall-effect sensor with memory and computing power in a low cost package, so low that a “distributed strategy” may be employed: these devices may be located wherever the position-sensing needs to occur, under the hood, in a tank, or at a wheel, rather than have to integrate the processing as a part of the central vehicle management function. This will allow the rapid introduction of complex product features and control related to drive-by-wire and the like.
Micronas’ devices are used in contact-free, magnetic position sensors, which translate a magnetic field, sometimes irregular, into an easily interpreted linear output voltage. These sensors are used for very precise position detection, and may be used in such applications as gas pedal sensors, transmission stick position, chassis level, ride height, and fluid level. This type of sensor is an attractive and viable alternative to the mechanical micro switch, as this contactless switch offers an advantage any time there is vibration, shock, dirt, moisture, high temperature, and electromagnetic interference.
The strategy or value proposition Micronas has successfully innovated, combining sensor, memory, processing, and control in a small, inexpensive distributed package, will facilitate a proliferation of such intelligent sensors on a vehicle, so that a high end vehicle, which has 20 such distributed units today, will in less than five years have as many as a hundred. Micronas’s sales are in the millions of units.