Sensor degradation is a natural part of the autonomous vehicle equation, especially given the fact that a car today typically has a lifespan of 10 to 15 years. Top causes of degradation include general wear and tear of sensors, harsh operating environments, and degradation of other electronic system elements.
Additionally, there is temporary sensor degradation that comes from environmental factors such as direct sunlight obstructing a camera’s view or high radio frequency (RF) noise in congested areas. To guard against this type of degradation, automakers usually install several types of sensors to provide an additional layer of information for the ADAS subsystem to make a better decision.
In terms of gradual degradation, automakers and technology providers must factor in the ability of the installed sensors such as LiDAR, camera, ultrasound, etc., to perform at the same level it did at the beginning, if not greater, for the entire expected lifespan of the vehicle.
Additionally, they must answer what happens if the sensor begins to fail. How will the vehicle alert the driver that it requires maintenance? Will the vehicle automatically suspend its autonomous driving ability until that maintenance is completed?
As autonomous vehicles become more common, there will be additional regulations that come into play as well as various consumer habits that will help shape the future of the market. Perhaps it will become an expectation that vehicle cameras need to be replaced every three years, just like consumers need to replace tires on a regular basis.
Synopsys provides a number of different tools that help customers model and design semiconductors and other components within the vehicle to create predictive failure rates and alternatives. For instance, Saber is used to design and verify the interaction of multiple technologies (electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, magnetic, etc.). It can also model environmental conditions such as heat, temperature, humidity, etc., and how those will change the characteristics of the device.