Battery-management chips illustrate how sophisticated electronic control units are proliferating in cars.
Most vehicles already have some form of battery management system in place. At the very least, it monitors the battery's charging and discharging, and how much of a charge the battery has left.
"It really just takes a smart controller to manage the battery," says Kyle Williams, director of automotive systems integration at Robert Bosch LLC.
More intelligent controls can prioritize power demand from multiple electronic devices.
Take fuel-saving stop-start systems, which are spreading rapidly across vehicle lines in Europe and making inroads in North America, too.
A stop-start system shuts down the engine when the car stops, then restarts it when the driver's foot comes off the brake. That drains power from the battery, though--so much power that the headlights may dim.
If the battery already is under a full load, that could be trouble. A sophisticated battery management system, though, can anticipate that drain and, say, shut off the current to the heated seats for two seconds, says Ralf Voss, senior executive vice president of Hella KGaA Hueck & Co. of Lippstadt, Germany.
Or, if the temperature is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the battery-management control unit could tell that a driver inadvertently had left the heat on, and turn it off.
Those tricks can extend the life of even old-tech lead-acid batteries, says Richard Schmitz, chief analog system architect at control-unit maker ZMD AG of Filderstadt-Bernhausen, Germany. Battery management becomes even more crucial in hybrid vehicles.
(Source: Automotive News)