NXP sees another future application in the replacement of ultrasonic sensors for parking aids. This requires miniaturization of the components and the provision of low-cost radar sensors. In addition, the circuit technology will change. "We need cascading of the front-end devices," says Spannagel. Single-chip solutions can be expected for the products developed for parking aids. Spannagel describes the development trend as follows: "The components are integrated into the RF building blocks. This also applies to combinations of RF unit and embedded microprocessors and is accompanied by a change at the level of semiconductor technology. Today, the RF unit is manufactured in SiGe technology, while the processors are manufactured in CMOS. In order to integrate these two units at chip level, it is necessary to switch to CMOS also for the RF circuitry.
New use cases are created not only by new technologies, but also by the changing legal situation on the part of the EU. The monitoring of seat occupancy and the seating posture of drivers and passengers will soon create use cases for the use of radar technology in the vehicle interior, Spannagel explained. According to the NXP expert, these radar sensors could also be used for new user interfaces based on gesture control.
In the field of lidar technology as another mainstay of environmental sensor technology and thus of highly automated driving, NXP is reluctant to do so or leaves it to the operation of partial aspects. "Here we are active in signal processing, further activities in the lidar segment are not yet planned," Spannagel explains. In this technology segment, the company uses its S32V processor family, which is optimized for such applications. The company also runs partnerships with lidar sensor specialists. However, NXP does not want to reveal their names. Incidentally, the company is working on improving the resolution of the radar sensors to such an extent that they reach the level of today's lidar sensors.