What Silicon Valley’s Autonomous Vehicle Push Means for Electronics Manufacturers

Not only is Silicon Valley a hotbed of autonomous vehicle innovation, but it’s also an early testing ground of these technologies. For electronics manufacturers, this push for autonomous vehicles presents a plethora of opportunities. To take advantage of current and upcoming opportunities, electronics manufacturers may have to change the way they build their tech.

What Are Autonomous Vehicles?

Many people have some familiarity with the idea of self-driving cars. In fact, many car manufacturers already have models out with various autonomous features. Some cars can park themselves or use sensors to avoid obstacles. An autonomous vehicle takes the next logical step by eliminating the need for human interaction altogether.

In addition, Silicon Valley isn’t just trying to bring full automation to cars. The tech innovators of the Valley are trying to make fleets of self-driving vehicles available for various sectors. For example, tech companies are also heavily pushing autonomous delivery trucks, public transportation, and ridesharing fleets.

What Are Some Tech Challenges to Full Vehicle Automation?

Even with Silicon Valley pursuing autonomous vehicle technologies, there are some technological challenges holding fully autonomous cars back. Realistic everyday operation of an autonomous vehicle asks a lot of the technology powering the vehicle.

Human interaction and human decision making aren’t something technology can easily emulate under all circumstances. In addition, the technology itself isn’t always adequate to certain aspects of driving. This is especially true of technology that comes from disparate systems.

For example, the radar used to detect objects by one vehicle can have issues when its surrounded by other vehicles using the same or similar technology. All the waves bouncing around can create errors and false positives, which can create dangerous situations.

Another challenge comes with weather and road conditions. Autonomous car technology can have issues with changing the driving behaviors of the vehicle to accommodate slick road conditions or severe weather.

Keep in mind these are only some of the technological challenges. Many legal, political, and social challenges exist as well. Despite it all, Silicon Valley isn’t backing down from driverless technology.

What Are Some Opportunities Autonomous Vehicles Offer Electronics Manufacturers?

Autonomous vehicles open a world of opportunities for electronics manufacturers. Every aspect of semi-autonomous or fully autonomous vehicles will need electronic component manufacturers. Manufacturers will have fresh opportunities to provide technology for vehicle performance, entertainment, amenities, networking, and other features.

As things are currently, an electronics manufacturer with some good ideas can become a market disrupter or solution provider to the industry. Electronics manufacturers with an understanding of vehicle components can start brainstorming ways to provide aftermarket parts or other technology that modifies, improves, or replaces stock components of electrical autonomous cars.

OEM manufacturers also seek solutions and improvements. This means electronics manufacturers also have an opportunity to bring designs and ideas to these larger companies.

The opportunities available are very much open to outside-the-box thinking and fresh ideas. Some manufacturers may already develop components for electrical cars and can easily start to make the changes to adapt those components to fully autonomous vehicles.

Entrepreneurs and startups are already riding the autonomous vehicle wave of Silicon Valley. Any electronics manufacturer who wants to also ride that wave will have many opportunities to do so.

What Are Things Manufacturers Should Know about Autonomous Vehicle Components?

The components of autonomous vehicles follow many of the same trends as most modern electronics. Designers and developers want smaller components that pack in a lot of functionality.

With an autonomous vehicle, power consumption is also a large concern. Since many electrical systems will need to stay on and operate at peak efficiency, the components of all those systems need to individually keep power requirements to a minimum.

Automotive components also need to adhere to more strict tolerances and have more durability. Those types of requirements aren’t new, as automotive PCBs and components always needed the ability to survive under more punishing conditions.

With autonomous vehicles, those requirements will only grow. A vehicle that drives itself will need components that won’t falter or cause issues while the vehicle is in operation.

In fact, electronic assemblers and manufacturers will have to put a lot more consideration into their PCB designs to achieve even the bare minimum of suitable quality for autonomous vehicles. A few of those considerations include:

  • An increase in complexity
  • Thinner and better substrates
  • More embedded components
  • Higher levels of electrostatic discharge protection
  • Better thermal management and protection
  • High density interconnects
  • Flexibility (Physically and Functionally)

When designing and manufacturing electronic components for vehicles, manufacturers will have to start increasing their ability to make use of modern PCB technology. The push for autonomous vehicles in Silicon Valley can help electronics manufacturers to figure out what direction they should go in.

Staying abreast of trends and changes can help manufacturers to plan ahead. Streamline Circuits stays ahead of the curve and provides solutions for those electronic manufacturers who want to engage in the autonomous vehicle changes as they’re taking place.