Smart Sensors in the Automobile Industry

Smart Sensors If there’s one up-and-coming gamechanger you should know about in the automotive industry, it’s smart sensors. These innovative devices are making waves around the world, changing how manufacturers, automotive professionals, and drivers interact with and experience the industry. You’ll find a huge variety of sensors at any of the reputable supplies distributors across the globe, for example, RS Components.

But what is a sensor exactly?

In short, sensors detect and measure data. Broadly defined, they are electronic devices or machines intended to detect, measure, record, and respond to environmental events and changes.

In the automotive industry, proximity sensors reign supreme. Used to measure space and distance, you’ll find proximity sensors in parking assist, adaptive cruise control, and self-driving applications.

Parking proximity sensors are usually one of two devices—an electromagnetic sensor or an ultrasonic sensor. These devices are also commonly used for other applications, like home alarm systems.

In the coming years, expect to see smart sensors taking control of the automotive industry. By driving vehicle automation, smart sensors will help manufacturers create safer and more fuel-efficient vehicles.

How are sensors used in the automobile industry?

As of today, we’re witnessing the mere beginning of smart sensors in the automobile industry. In 2020, we’ve seen smart sensors foster applications such as:

  • Intelligent observation
  • Parking assist
  • Gesture recognition
  • 3D traffic mapping
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Driving automation

The first automated parking technology came on the market in 2006 when Lexus introduced its Advanced Parking Guidance System (APGS). Today, this technology has evolved with models such as the BMW i3, which can autonomously search for parking spaces and respond to voice commands.

As it stands, ultrasonic sensors can only function well when vehicles are travelling at less than 10km per hour. Distance measurement is not 100% accurate and mistakes happen—but we can expect this to change dramatically in the near future.

Outside of driving technologies, we also see smart sensors used in automotive manufacturing to maintain quality control and collect vital data across assembly lines.

What can we expect from smart sensors in the future?

In the coming decades, we can expect unprecedented growth in smart sensor applications within the automotive industry. With driverless cars especially, we’re expecting revolutionary changes. A fully autonomous driving system will require significant advancements in 3D traffic mapping and connected-car infrastructure.

In 2018, German car manufacturers BMW, Audi, and Daimler committed to the Nokia Here mapping service, which they intend to use for development of connected-car infrastructure.

With the help of next-generation sensors, cars of the future will report real-time data about their exact location in space, the surrounding environment, the movement of all other cars, and the behaviour of the vehicle’s occupants.

By combining sensor technology in vehicles with upcoming smart road infrastructure, we can expect much safer, more efficient, and environmentally-friendly travel in the future.


With the growing presence of sensor technology in the automotive industry, sweeping changes are on the horizon. What started with elementary parking assist technologies is now evolving into full-blown vehicle automation and traffic mapping on a colossal scale.

Sooner rather than later, smart sensor technology will transform the automotive industry as we know it.

Leave a Reply