Opinion: Automotive Safety Systems Drive Growth in Sensor Cable Assemblies

By Contributed Article | June 22, 2015

The growing importance of the relationship between sensors and interconnects is fully evidenced in automotive safety systems, which require reliable, durable cable assemblies, according to Pete Doyon of Schleuniger.


Automotive safety systemsAs a young boy in the ’60s, my brother, sister, and I would stand on the rear seat of Dad’s Oldsmobile and hang onto the top of the front bench seat. That was our idea of automobile safety back then.

The National Highway Safety Bureau, now the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), was created in 1966 and one of its first initiatives was to mandate the installation of seat belts in all American-made cars. Since that first directive, the following laws have gone into effect:

  • Driver-side airbags (1992)
  • Dual-front airbags (1995)
  • Tire pressure sensors to detect if any tire was 25% below the recommended inflation pressure (2005)
  • Anti-lock brakes (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC) (2011)

Looking forward and being discussed now, one of the next likely mandates will be vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V). V2V is a collision-avoidance technology that transmits data between vehicles to help warn drivers of potential crashes. This technology would improve safety by allowing vehicles to communicate with each other and exchange basic safety data, such as position and speed, and warn the driver of potentially dangerous situations.

All of the safety systems mentioned above require specialized sensors. These sensors measure everything from temperature, pressure, speed, and direction to inertia, radar sensing, and image sensing. A typical vehicle today may have up to 100 sensors. As cars get smarter, the number of sensors (for all systems including emission control, infotainment, passenger comfort, etc.) could increase to nearly 200 sensors per vehicle. Every one of these sensors must be connected to a controller in some way, usually via a hardwired cable connection. Most sensors are connected with two or three conductor cables that are terminated with a crimped or welded connection.

With the safety of the occupants in mind, reliability and lasting quality of the cable assemblies are of utmost importance. This type of repeatable quality can only be achieved with automatic assembly equipment equipped with integrated quality monitoring.

Authro Pete Doyon is vice president, product management at Schleuniger Inc. 

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