Editor’s Note: ams AG will be speaking about and demonstrating its next-generation magnetic position sensors at RoboBusiness 2017, which will be held in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sept. 27 and 28.
Over the past couple of years a new set of end markets and applications have begun to drive the requirements and set the standards for higher performing position sensors. This has been particularly evident with magnetic position sensors, where suppliers of these types of sensors have responded to the siren calls and have begun to introduce new products specifically tailored for the rapidly growing robot and drone markets.
New magnetic position sensors are smarter and offer higher resolution and accuracy, are smaller and lighter, and consume dramatically less power than their predecessors. This article will explore:
History of magnetic position sensors and how and what end markets they’ve traditionally served
New features and performances being introduced in today’s next-generation devices
Use cases in the robot and drone spaces for these new and innovative magnetic position sensors.
How magnetic position sensors are used
Hall-based magnetic position sensors have been around for a long time, but they are still increasingly being used today in automotive, consumer and industrial applications with the continued electrification of these end markets. In automotive, for example, magnetic positions sensors are used today for such vehicle sub-systems as steering, braking, transmission, shifter, chassis ride height, pedal, fuel leveling sensing, etc. And the rush for autonomous driving vehicles is only accelerating their use.
In the consumer space, they are widely used for detecting door position in white goods appliances. And in the industrial market, they are used for providing actuator, lever and joystick position feedback for control systems and industrial robots. Moreover, across all markets, they are heavily used for aiding in motor control.
The main reasons why magnetic position sensors are so widely used is that they can be realized in low-cost CMOS semiconductor technology and provide accurate, repeatable and reliable position measurements in the harshest of environments. Magnetic position sensors are immune to dust, dirt, grime, and liquids, and can work in high temperatures and humidity levels. Some suppliers, such as ams AG, even offer magnetic position sensors that are immune to magnetic stray fields.
Traditionally, CMOS magnetic position sensors have been packaged in various common surface mount and single in-line thru-hole IC packages, and for most of the applications just mentioned this type of packaging has been adequately small enough. Similarly, CMOS magnetic position sensors typically consume power in the 10s of amps of current. Again, tolerable power consumption levels for the conventional automotive, industrial and consumer markets.
No longer cutting it
However, with the rapid electrification of automobiles, new IOT connected consumer products being announced with...