Automotive safety systems are found in a growing number of vehicles, and shipments of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS ), which are crucial to their operation, are increasing even faster. Nearly 100 million airbag, tire pressure monitoring and electronic stability (ESP) safety systems that use MEMS shipped worldwide during 2010. These products contained more than 300 million MEMS chips. In 2016, about 150 million systems are expected to be installed in vehicles, but the number of MEMS they contain will have rocketed to over 830 million.

“Safety systems are becoming more advanced and more complex, and each new system tends to contain more sensors than previous generations,” said Peter Cooney, practice director for ABI Research.

MEMS generally fall into three main categories-accelerometers, pressure sensors and gyroscopes. One technical trend is to integrate several sensors, or types of sensor, on a single chip. A related trend is to make a single MEMS do double or triple duty in the service of several safety systems.

“Sensor integration will have a negative effect on MEMS sensor market growth, which will also come under pressure from increasing market competition,” Cooney said.

However, more important than any of these is the single largest driver of the automotive MEMS and safety systems market: government mandates. When governments make safety systems mandatory, MEMS suppliers see a big benefit.

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