By David Holden
Cars that can get along without drivers are coming, down the road, but they are a small part of the changes that the global transportation industries will undertake as microelectronics and the Internet of Things prompt major changes in infrastructure and logistics, as well as all type of vehicles.
Speakers at the opening session of “The Internet of Things: from sensors to zero power,” a LetiDays conference in Grenoble, France, shared their near-term forecasts for transport and the multiple opportunities that will stem from these changes.
Vincent Roger, transport business development manager at CEA-Leti explained that Leti-designed autonomous sensors allow monitoring of wear and tear on roads and train tracks, which enables their owners to predict when maintenance will be required. An emerging, potentially disruptive result of the IoT and sensors that monitor activity is a pay-per-use business model, in which owners pay manufacturers for the actual use of equipment rather than purchasing it.
Even automakers may move toward a service-based business model, and away from just car manufacturing, said Matt Hatton, director at Machina Research.
Presenters agreed that privacy concerns, based on devices tracking movement and activity of consumers, may be a barrier to rapid adoption of IoT applications. But Gilles Le Calvez of Valeo said that as they increasingly understand the benefits of connectivity, consumers will accept it more. He also showed a video of a driverless Valeo automated vehicle equipped with sensors and other microelectronics that is able locate and pull into open parking spaces.
Roger explained a new Leti “morpho” technology, using piezoelectric elements, that can be used for IoT applications that provide structural-health monitoring (SHM) for railways, bridges and pipes or cables buried or hidden inside tunnels.
Leti’s MEMS-based SHM systems enable real-time and remote monitoring, including tracking the infrastructure response to storms and other events, and the changes over time. These SHM systems include sensors networks, embedded signal processing and optimization of power consumption.
Several speakers emphasized the importance of controlling power consumption of the billions of devices that are projected to be connected to the IoT in the next decade. Leti CEO Laurent Malier said the power, performance and cost advantages of Fully Depleted Silicon-on-Insulator (FD-SOI) devices are well suited to power IoT applications because of the technology’s high-performance and low power consumption features. Leti and STMicroelectronics recently demonstrated an ultra-wide-voltage range (UWVR) digital signal processor (DSP) that provides up to 50 percent lower power consumption than competing technologies.
David Holden is Cooperative Programs Manager at CEA-Leti