Newsletter 04/2019

Among others, for self-driving vehicles safe, effective, and reliable electronics are crucial. The aim of the “ThermOBS” project is to develop sensor and detection solutions that monitor the proper functioning of electronic systems and components.

Online monitoring of electronic components
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An autonomous, computer-driven vehicle is directly and immediately dependent on the proper functioning of its electronic systems: in the absence of a human driver, the reliability of electronic components is paramount. Online monitoring, a process whereby the system automatically keeps tabs on critical components during operation, enables reliable early detection of physical defects, automatically flagging up the first signs of an imminent malfunction. This allows countermeasures to be initiated in time to ensure that the vehicle can continue to operate safely. Therefore, the partners involved in the ThermOBS project are searching for a way to perform direct diagnosis and spatial detection of physical faults in the electronic packaging of an electronic component or system.

The project partners hope to achieve this goal using thermal on-board spectroscopy, which relies on smart temperature measurements to monitor the condition of electronic components during vehicle operation. According to the researchers, the technology will be able to detect the onset of damage before it leads to functional impairment or errors. This requires special sensor designs.

To avoid the potential cost and weight issues associated with the use of novel sensors in vehicles, the damage detection system must be implemented with minimal additional effort, using existing hardware where possible. The results will be demonstrated on a self-monitoring control unit and a power electronics control system to assess whether the error detection system can determine the size and position of faults with sufficient accuracy to identify critical errors. The system will also be tested under real environmental conditions.