People love their cars. It’s one of those near universal facts. Whether they live in big cities or small rural hamlets, drive a mini or a hummer, there is just something about the sexy vroom vroom of an engine that excites people on a primal level.
Perhaps it’s the destructive force in us that is drawn to what is basically a controlled explosion on wheels. Perhaps it’s something to do with an automobile’s sleek and contoured chassis – or the human need for speed.
Or maybe, it’s because there is a certain zen to be found in tinkering with an engine. Of souping up and optimizing an already lean, mean machine, and making it purr. Somewhere in all of us is an engineer who simply wants to solve puzzles – and what greater puzzle to solve than the many moving parts to be found under the hood?
We at Atmel are especially passionate about the automotive space, having been one of the first semiconductor companies to enter the market, embracing both the productive and the creative passion from the get-go.
Telefunken (the pre- predecessor of Atmel Automotive) was founded as early as 1903, while the Heilbronn fab in Germany, acquired by Atmel in the 1980’s, was founded way back in 1960.
Atmel’s first success in automotive was (rather fittingly) the electronic ignition IC which, in 1979/1980, was installed in every Volkswagen car.
Another early milestone along Atmel’s automotive roadmap was, ironically, braking. A start-to-stop scenario, so to speak.
The market for connected vehicles is expected to grow to a whopping $53 billion by 2018, with consumers demanding more and more connectivity each year.
A study by Deloitte in 2011 determined that 46% of people between the ages of 18-24 cited connectivity as being “extremely important” to them when it came to cars, with 37% wanting to stay as connected as possible while in their vehicles. A resounding 65% identified remote vehicle control as an important feature in their next automotive purchase; while 77% favored remote diagnostics minimizing dealer visits. And let’s face it, who can blame them?
A 2013 study by Cisco went even further, positing that Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications could enable cars to detect each other’s presence and location, helping avoid accidents, lower road costs and decrease carbon emissions. The report also found that intelligent cars would lead to 7.5% less time wasted in traffic congestion and 4% lower costs for vehicle fuel.
With over 1 billion passenger cars careening through the world’s streets already, increased digitization can’t come fast enough!
Today, Atmel supplies all 10 of the top 10 tier 1 automotive electronic suppliers in the world, not only with microcontrollers (MCUs), but with touch sensor technology too. Indeed, Atmel’s latest touch innovation, the bendable, flexible, printed wonder that is Xsense, has now been fully qualified and is ready to ramp, meaning sexy curved glass dashboards are closer than you’d imagine… Not bad for a feature originally developed as a piece of wood attached to the front of a horse drawn carriage to prevent mud from splattering the driver!
Atmel is also renowned for being a leading car access supplier, meaning we make the chips that enable cool remote keyless entry (RKE) systems with immobilizers, to reduce the risk of anyone stealing your steel beauty away from you. In fact, Atmel has already delivered over 250 Million ICs for this specific application, so that’s a whole lot of key fobs! Speaking of key fobs, here’s a fun fact; holding a remote car key to your head doubles its range because the human skull acts as an amplifier.
Moving from cool keyfobs to total hotness, it’s also worth noting that Atmel sells some of the highest temperature resistant parts in the market, some of which can handle heat of up to 200°C.
Last, but certainly not least, Atmel boasts the world’s largest portfolio of Local Interconnect Network (LIN) devices, for communication between components in vehicles. The firm’s devices have OEM approvals from all major car manufacturers worldwide, which is certainly something to be proud of.
So next time you find yourself on that long and winding road, kicking into high gear and hugging those curves, spare a thought for the components, because when it comes to cars, the devil really is in the details.