Automotive Sensors types | Sensors used in Automotive industry

This article covers automotive sensors types and their functions. It mentions benefits of automotive sensors and manufacturers of sensors used in automotive industry for various operations.

Introduction: A sensor is a device or component which detects and responds to physical or chemical or environmental stimuli. It converts the detected stimuli to measurable data or signal. They are used to monitor and measure various conditions or parameters in the surroundings or within the system. Sensors can detect wide range of variables as per their design such as temperature, humidity, pressure, motion, light, position, sound, proximity, acceleration etc. The sensors are used in various industries such as healthcare, aerospace, automotive, energy and utilities, agriculture, environment monitoring, smart home automation, Internet of Things (IoT), consumer electronics etc.

Why Automotive sensors are needed ?

The sensors which are used in automotive industry are known as automotive sensors. These sensors support various interfaces to enable communication with electronic control systems of the vehicles. The common interfaces supported by most of the automotive sensors are analog output, CAN, LIN, FlexRay, Ethernet, SPI, I2C, digital output, USB, RS232/RS485, wireless etc. Wireless interfaces such as WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Zwave, LoRaWAN allow sensors to communicate with smartphones, gateways or any other networking devices. Unlike wired sensors, wireless sensors do not require any physical connections.

Automotive sensors are essential components in modern vehicles due to following reasons.
• They ensure safety of drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Examples of such sensors are collision detection sensors, radar sensors, imaging cameras etc.
• These sensors enhance efficiency and performance of vehicles by monitoring engine parameters and controlling air-fuel mixture, exhaust emissions etc.
• These sensors provide optimal control and enhance driving stability. Vehicle systems such as Anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic stability control, traction control system, electronic stability control, adaptive cruise control etc. are largely depend upon sensors to monitor various parameters.
• They improve comfort and convenience of occupants by adjusting temperature and HVAC settings as per weather requirements.
• Proximity sensors and cameras are used in parking assistance systems to make parking easier and safer.
• On-board diagnostic sensors are crucial for vehicle diagnostics and maintenace. These sensors help mechanics to resolve issues quickly and efficiently.
• Sensors monitor varius emissions and ensure that vehicles meet emission standards and regulations as per requirements.
• Sensors are used to provide advanced features in ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) which include blind spot detection, drowsiness detection, lane departure warning, adaptive headlights etc.
• Sensors provide real time performance data, location information and remote diagnostics.

Types of Automotive Sensors

Following are the commonly used automotive sensors types for various functions in modern cars, electric cars and automatic cars. The sensor configurations may vary between different vehicle models and manufacturers.
• ECU (Engine Control Unit) sensor : This sensor type monitors engine parameters such as temperature, RPM, load etc. Based on these parameters it controls fuel injection, ignition timing and other engine functionalities.
• MAF (Mass Airflow) sensor : It measures amount of air entering into the engine. Based on this measurement, it optimizes fuel injection and controls air-fuel mixture.
• Oxygen (O2) sensor : It measures oxygen level in exhaust gases. This measurement is used to optimize fuel mixture.
• Engine coolant temperature sensor : It monitors temperature of engine coolant which helps to regulate engine performance. This measurement helps to prevent overheating of the engine.
• Throttle position sensor : It determines position of throttle valve which helps to control engine power and response.
• Knock sensor and CMP (Camshaft Position) sensor : These sensor types are used to adjust ignition timing and to prevent engine damage.
• Wheel speed sensor : It measures rotational speed of each wheel. This allows ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) and TCS (Traction Control System) to operate efficiently.
• Blind spot detection sensors : These sensors monitor blind spot of the vehicle and alerts driver when another vehicle is detected in adjacent lane.
• Acceleration and Gyro sensor : It measures vehicle acceleration and angular velocity which enables stability control and rollover protection systems.
• Charging port sensor : It detects presence of charging cable and communicate with charging system in electric vehicles.
• Other sensors : Rain and light sensors, battery state of charge sensors, electric motor position and speed sensors, parking assistance sensors etc.

Automotive Sensors Manufacturers

Following table mentions few of the manufacturers of automotive sensors used for various operations in automobiles.

Manufacturers or Companies Automotive sensors
NXP semiconductors The company designs sensors for tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), airbags, engine management and other safety & comfort applications. Visit for more information.
Robert Bosch GmbH The company offers sensors for wide range of industrial and off-highway applications. The range of products include angular position sensors, rotational speed sensors, temperature sensors, knock sensors, air mass sensors, inertial sensors, lambda sensors, pressure sensors etc. Visit for more specific information on automotive sensors as per requirements.
Continental AG The company manufactures wide range of sensors for 2-wheeler, trucks & buses, passenger cars etc. The sensors include reed contact level sensor for fuel level sensing, pressure sensor, temperature sensor, inertial sensor, NOx concentration sensor etc. Visit for specific sensors.
Delphi technologies The company manufactures oxygen sensors, Mass Air Flow Sensors, ABS Wheel Speed Sensors, Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) sensors, Camshaft/Crankshaft Position Sensors, Coolant and Oil Temperature Sensors, Coolant and Oil Temperature Sensors, Knock/Detonation Sensors, Transmission Speed Sensors, Ride Height Sensors etc. Visit for more information.
Infineon technologies The company develops sensors for automotive, industrial and consumer electronics markets. The sensors include magnetic sensors, current sensors, pressure sensors, CO2 sensors, Radar sensors, image sensors etc. Visit for more information.
TE connectivity The company is manufacturer of sensors for automotivem industrial and commercial vehicles. Sensors address e-motors, EV batteries, ICE/exhaust systems, brake systems, chassis, transmission/clutch, Body/cabin, ADAS etc. Visit for more information.
STMicroelectronics ST offers automotive sensors which include 3-axis accelerometers, 3-axis gyroscope and 6-axis inertial modules with digital output. The company manufactures sensors for other functions. Visit for more information.

There are many more manufacturers of automotive sensors which include DENSO CORPORATION, systec Automotive GmbH, Omron Corporation, Melexis etc.

Benefits of Automotive Sensors

Following are the advantages or benefits of automotive sensors.
➨Enhanced safety and emergency assistance
➨Improvement in fuel efficiency
➨Enhanced engine performance
➨Control of emissions to protect environment
➨Diagnostic capabilities for mechanics
➨Comfort and convenience of occupants
➨Vehicle telematics and connectivity
➨Improved vehicle dynamics and stability
➨Theft prevention and security
➨ADAS enhances driver safety, reduce driver fatigue and assist in avoiding accidents

Automotive sensors are widely available from various manufacturers at affordable rates with different features. They offer wide range of benefits which contribute to more efficient, reliable, safe and enjoyable driving experience.

Arduino Interfacing with sensors

Different Types of sensors and Transducers

Advantages and Disadvantages of other Sensor Types

Capacitive    Inductive    Photoelectric    Ultrasonic    Infrared    Motion    Biometric    Force    Humidity    Temperature    Light    Barometer    Sound    pH    Soil Moisture   

RF and Wireless Terminologies