Types of sensors used in automobile vehicles and car sensors

Automobile vehicles use various types of sensors to monitor and control various functions. Car sensors are an essential part of modern automobiles which provides valuable data to the vehicle's onboard computer (ECU). These sensors ensure desirable performance, safety and efficiency.

What are Vehicle sensors ?

As we know automobile industry is the fastest growing industries. Cars and other vehicles are made with advanced facilities to the users. They provide advanced driver assistance and make the vehicles as autonomous vehicles. Safety, identification, timely action, reliable notification and warning messages are very important in such vehicles.

There are various vehicle sensors based on advanced embedded MEMS technology. The sensors include image sensor, radar sensor, LiDAR sensor, GPS sensor, ultrasonic sensor, wheel speed sensor, oxygen sensor, knock sensor, acceleraion sensor, Yaw-Rate sensor, temperature sensor, pressure sensor etc.

Automotive manufacturers are continuously increasing use of electronic systems to improve vehicle performance, safety and passenger comfort. Sensors as well as actuators are integrated with automotive control to help in optimizing vehicle performance while improving reliability and durability of the vehicles. Let us explore types of sensors used in automobile vehicles and list of car sensors including their functions.

Types of vehicle sensors

types of Vehicle sensors

There are various vehicle sensor types. These are selected based on various criterias as outlined below.
• What parameter is to be measured?
• Magnitude and range of the quantity
• Resolution and accuracy of measurement required
• Cost
• Environment
• Interface requirements such as A/D parameters (number of bits, data rate), signal conditioning, sensitivity, analog/digital data format, output quantity (current, voltage, resistance) etc.

Following are the functions of various types of vehicle sensors.
Temperature sensor: It monitors the temperature of the engine coolant to prevent overheating and optimize fuel mixture. Thermistors and thermocouples are temperature sensors.
Magnetic sensor: They are used for speed and position measurements of rotating members.
Knock sensor: Used for registration of structure-borne vibrations (i.e. Knocking).
Acceleration sensor: Used for registration of accelerations in X, Y and Z axes.
Yaw rate sensor: Used for registration of rotational movement of vehicle around its vertical axis.
Air flow sensor: It is used to measure volume of air passing through the sensor.
Oxygen sensor: It provides closed loop feedback for engine management to control the air fuel ratio. It measures amount of oxygen which is directly proportional to mixture strength or air fuel ratio.
Image sensor: It can be used with cameras in order to provide information like speed, distance and outlines of obstacles and moving objects.
Radar sensor: It is used for detection and localisation of objects using radio frequency waves. Advanced driver assistance systems employ many such radar sensors.
LiDAR sensor: It is based on laser and used to measure distances of stationary and moving objects from moving car.
Wheel speed sensor: It is used to determine speed at which car is moving.
Ultrasonic sensor: It is used for parking and detection of objects which are very close to the vehicle.
GPS sensor: It provides information for accurate positioning and location of the car.
Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF) : Measures the amount of air entering the engine, helping the ECU determine the correct amount of fuel to inject.
Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) : Monitors the position of the throttle plate, allowing the ECU to adjust engine performance based on driver input.
Manifold Absolute Pressure Sensor (MAP) : Measures the pressure inside the intake manifold, helping the ECU optimize engine performance and efficiency.
Steering Angle Sensor (SAS) : Measures the angle and rate of the steering wheel, assisting with stability control and other advanced driver assistance systems.
Crankshaft Position Sensor (CKP) : Provides information about the position and rotational speed of the engine's crankshaft, aiding in ignition timing and fuel injection.
Camshaft Position Sensor (CMP) : Monitors the position and speed of the camshaft, enabling precise fuel injection and valve timing control.
Brake Fluid Level Sensor : Monitors brake fluid level to alert the driver if it is low.
Fuel Level Sensor : Measures the amount of fuel in the tank and displays it on the fuel gauge.
Parking Sensors : Use ultrasonic or electromagnetic technology to detect objects around the vehicle, helping with parking and obstacle avoidance.
Blind Spot Monitoring Sensors : Use radar or cameras to detect vehicles in the blind spots and provide visual or audible warnings to the driver.
Rain Sensors : Detect rain on the windshield and automatically control the wiper speed.
Light Sensors: Measure ambient light levels and automatically adjust the vehicle's lighting system.
Airbag Sensors : Detect sudden deceleration or impact to trigger airbag deployment.
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) Sensors : Utilize radar or lidar technology to detect vehicles ahead and adjust the car's speed accordingly.
Lane Departure Warning (LDW) Sensors : Monitor lane markings and alert the driver if the vehicle unintentionally drifts out of its lane.
Collision Detection Sensors : Found in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicles, these sensors help to detect potential collisions and initiate appropriate safety measures.

Conclusion : Car sensors and vehicle sensors are critical components in modern automobiles which serve various essential functions. These sensors provide real-time data to the vehicle's onboard computer to enable implementation of numerous safety systems like ABS, ESC, and airbags. These systems protect both drivers and pedestrians. The sensors monitor and adjust engine parameters which lead to better fuel efficiency, reduced emissions, improved engine performance and smoother operation. Driver assistance systems (ADAS) heavily rely on these sensors to assist drivers in preventing accidents and maintaining safe driving practices. As technology continues to advance, these automotive sensors will continue to play a central role in driving automotive innovation and making vehicles or cars safer and more efficient.

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