Through significant advances in technology, many major automotive manufacturers are now testing autonomous/self-driving vehicles. While the release of fully autonomous vehicles is drawing closer, there are still some serious complications to be resolved over the next few years. However, it is not just the vehicle manufacturers that are facing challenges, but suppliers throughout the electrical connector industry as well. The reason for this is simple: in order for the vehicles to be safe and dependable, a large number of sensors and very powerful controllers are needed — and so are the connectors for them.
The Move Toward Fully Autonomous Driving Systems
Experts are predicting that within the next five years, manufacturers will release an autonomous system that is fully in charge of driving. This is known as a Level 5 system, based on a five-level scale developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). This scale defines the different levels of driving automation from level 0 (a human driver is fully in control) to level 5 (an autonomous system fully in charge of driving), while levels in between represent varying degrees of assistance.
Because of the high level of dependency on sensors (which includes cameras, radar, LiDAR, and infrared) and controllers that depend on these sensors, there is a much greater need for high-reliability connectors in autonomous vehicles. These sensors will involve higher signal data rates that will increase the need for additional connector shielding to meet signal integrity and EMI requirements. In addition, the number of electrical connectors and cables needed for Level 5 autonomous vehicles will be much greater compared to those of a traditional automobile.
Challenges for Automotive Connectors
For automotive connectors to meet the evolving needs of fully autonomous vehicles, they must support the transmission of large amounts of data in real-time. These industrial connectors must also meet automotive-grade requirements for robustness and safety while achieving an effective level of miniaturization to keep their footprint as small as possible. They must also be flexible enough to integrate heterogeneous devices and chip protocols. Luckily, there are already connector solutions on the market that can do the job effectively.
ITT Cannon’s CTC Connector product series is well adapted for applications involving high-performance requirements, such as computer servers for autonomous vehicle data. These rugged ITT Cannon connectors are extremely dependable in harsh conditions where reliable signal circuits are critical to operating performance. They provide up to IP69K sealing with a positive locking latch and require no special contact insertion tools, blind seals, or wedge locks. These ITT Cannon connectors are easy to install and maintain, while providing a cost-effective solution. The CTC series is available in 8, 12, 16, and 24-way variants with various color options. These cable-to-cable interconnects are fully RoHS compliant and deliver excellent durability with up to 200 mating cycles.
TE Connectivity commercial RF connectors are modular, high-density, blind mate RF connectors that are designed for high-performance systems including autonomous vehicles. They are broad bandwidth, multi-position connectors that include a float mounted jack that maintains positive RF ground .240 center-to-center spacing. These TE Connectivity connectors are also compatible with Fortis Zd backplane connector systems and their modular design permits application-specific configuration with high RF contact count. These 4 and 8 position modules are designed to meet the requirements of VITA 67.1 and VITA 67.2 as well.
A Demand for Autonomous Vehicle Connectors
The rise of Level 5 autonomous vehicles is driving demand for high performance, miniaturized electrical connectors that are not only rugged enough to survive in an aggressive outdoor environment, but are also able to handle the high-performance requirements of the multitude of sensors and controllers they will be serving. The ITT Cannon CTC connector series and TE Connectivity’s blind mate RF connector product line are excellent examples of connectors that are ideal for such applications.
PEI-Genesis: Your Partner for Autonomous Vehicle Connector Solutions
At PEI-Genesis, our team understands that identifying the right connector for autonomous vehicles is important as self-driving vehicles become increasingly common. These industrial connectors must be reliable and meet automotive-grade requirements for robustness and safety. Whether you are looking for connectors from our extensive stock or building the ideal connector solution for your application, partnering with PEI-Genesis will give you the tools you need to meet the unique challenges of the automotive industry.