New automotive chips enable automakers to create smarter and safer vehicles

11-01-2024 | Texas Instruments | Semiconductors

Texas Instruments has introduced new semiconductors designed to improve automotive safety and intelligence. The AWR2544 77GHz millimetre-wave radar sensor chip is the industry's first for satellite radar architectures, allowing higher levels of autonomy by enhancing sensor fusion and decision-making in ADAS. The company's new software-programmable driver chips, the DRV3946-Q1 integrated contactor driver and DRV3901-Q1, integrated squib driver for pyro fuses, provide built-in diagnostics and support functional safety for battery management and powertrain systems.

"Semiconductor innovations like the ones we showcase this year at CES are helping automotive systems continue to evolve and contribute to a safer driver experience," said Fern Yoon, director of Automotive Systems at Texas Instruments. "From more advanced driver assistance systems to smarter electric vehicle powertrain systems, TI is working alongside automakers to reimagine how reliable and intelligent technology can enable safer vehicles."

Many automakers are adding more sensors around the car to enhance vehicle safety and autonomy. The AWR2544 single-chip radar sensor is the industry's first designed for satellite architectures. In satellite architectures, radar sensors output semi-processed data to a central processor for ADAS decision-making using sensor fusion algorithms, taking advantage of the 360° sensor coverage to attain higher levels of vehicle safety.

This single-chip radar sensor is also the industry's first with launch-on-package (LOP) technology. LOP technology helps decrease the size of the sensor by as much as 30% by mounting a 3D waveguide antenna on the opposite side of the PCB. LOP technology also enables sensor ranges to extend beyond 200m with a single chip. In satellite architectures, these features enable automakers to increase ADAS intelligence for higher vehicle autonomy levels to make smarter decisions from farther away. The device is the latest in its radar sensor portfolio, which supports a broad range of ADAS applications and architectures with sensors developed for corner, front, imaging, side and rear radar systems.

Supporting the trend toward software-defined vehicles challenges designers to develop smarter, more advanced BMS. Two new highly integrated, software-programmable driver chips from the company address demands for safer and more efficient control of high-voltage disconnect circuits in a BMS or other powertrain system. Drivers are ISO 26262 functional safety-compliant and provide built-in diagnostics and protection to lessen automotive engineers' development time.

For BMS and other powertrain systems, the DRV3946-Q1 is the industry's first fully integrated contactor driver. It includes a peak-and-hold current controller that helps automakers increase system power efficiency. The device also implements safety diagnostics to monitor the condition of the contactor.

The company's DRV3901-Q1 fully integrated squib driver allows an intelligent pyro fuse disconnect system by using built-in circuitry to monitor the pyro fuse and provide diagnostic information to the system microcontroller. This gives hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) and EV BMS designers the flexibility to use a pyro fuse instead of traditional melting fuse systems while minimising design complexity.

By Seb Springall