Below are the questions asked during the live event, along with their respective answers.

Q: Do you think today’s automotive electronics are safe enough?
A: That depends on how you want to define “safe enough.” Statistically, I think it is clear that failures in vehicle electronic systems contribute to hundreds or even thousands of fatalities in the U.S. every year. On the other hand, it is very unlikely that a person who drives (or rides in) a car every day will be involved in a fatal crash caused by an electronic systems failure. With roughly 360,000 traffic fatalities in the U.S. annually, electronics system failures are not the primary cause. In fact, there’s substantial evidence that electronic systems will ultimately reduce traffic fatalities.

Q: Is the EMC testing we do today adequate?
A: No, probably not. There are many modern sources of interference that we do not currently account for with today’s test methods. Auto manufacturers develop new methods as they see a need, but the international standards are not keeping up with the new technologies.

Q: Suppliers will need requirements to design for compliance; how will requirements need to change in the new era?
A: Immunity requirements need to updated to reflect the sources of interference that are common in today’s world; particularly the EM devices that people routinely install on or in their vehicles. Electric drives are also responsible for new forms of interference that the current standards don’t fully account for. That said, I think the biggest change that needs to be made is to enforce the existing immunity requirements without allowing deviations or patches that allow bad designs to get through the test.

Q: Can you explain more what’s involved in “design for compliance”?
A: Design for Compliance is basically an approach where you evaluate every possible interference source, every possible interference victim, and every possible coupling mechanism. A key component of this design strategy is controlling current paths, bandwidths and other design parameters so that a worst-case analysis quickly reduces the number of possible source-path-victim combinations to a reasonable value. Systems designed in this manner are essentially guaranteed to meet all of the EMC requirements, generally at a cost that is significantly lower than systems that are patched to meet requirements at the last minute.

Q: Do you think AI is going to play a major role in reducing accidents in self-driving cars?
A: Self-driving cars rely on AI, so yes. Better AI is absolutely necessary before we have safe and reliable self-driving cars.

Q: What are the most common challenging EMC problems in the Automotive Antenna industry
A: I don’t design automotive antennas, but one of the clear challenges is designing antennas that are less affected by out-of-band noise. Automobiles are a very noisy electromagnetic environment.

Q: What do you think how much will EMC/SI simulation take part in the future in the automotive industry?
A: EM simulation will play a key role in design for automotive EMC. In fact, it already does. Basic simulations are a key part of a Design for Compliance approach. Of course, it’s important to break the interference down into small pieces where the physics is well understood. It’s also important to do a worst-case analysis, not to try to calculate a precise answer to an ill-defined problem. We will never be using full-wave EM simulations to predict the result of EMC testing, AND we will never use full-wave EM simulations to evaluate circuit board or system designs. It’s not a matter of needing better software or faster computers. Full-wave modeling is not the appropriate tool for solving this kind of problem.

Q: Thanks for your presentation! Can you comment on the importance of IC-EMC? How much of this revolution and “Design for EMC” centric approach needs to be taken on by the semiconductor/IC companies, in your opinion?
A: ICs are the primary EMI sources and victims in automotive designs. They play a major role in determining how well a product performs in an EMC test. Unfortunately, designers do not generally pay much attention to the EMC performance of ICs when making their design choices. As a result, IC suppliers have had little motivation to make products with good interference and immunity performance. Until large automotive customers start choosing ICs based on EMC performance, I don’t see that changing. Nevertheless, I’m pretty confident that this will happen within the next 10 years or so (at least for common types of ICs). We are already seeing some IC choice decisions being made with EMC in mind. The best example of this is low-voltage power converters. These are very high-volume ICs with several different manufacturers. Once automotive Tier 1s started choosing the converters with the lower noise, suppliers started making better converters with controlled switching times and spread-spectrum switching frequencies.

Q: With the increase in high power transmitters around the world, and increase in frequency usage do you believe automotive EMC should consider HIRF environmental requirements as aerospace does?
A: The automotive immunity requirements will definitely evolve, though I’m not sure the industry will ever have anything like the HIRF requirements. We’ll see though.

Q: I would ask Mr.Hubing if he would drive today a car “drive by wire” without mechanical fallback?
A: Maybe someday.

Q: If you say automotive EMC is going to change radically, do you think the EMI/EMC standards will also change ?
A: Change? Certainly. But not radically and not quickly.

Q: F1 or GT – should be the way to predict some mechanical and electronics components failure
A: I’m not sure if this is a question, but certainly F1 vehicles are way ahead when it comes to system and component monitoring.

Q: Pls confirm your ‘safety’ exception is related to inter-interference possible issues and possible consequences associated to EMI, I mean we’ve to go beyond simple EMI standard compliance investigating new frontiers.
A: I certainly agree that designing for safety involves much more than EMI and that there are many ways that EMI affects safety beyond the failure of a single component or system.

Q: What is your opinion about an impact of the unshielded power cables (harmonic distortion) on the electronics?
A: If you are talking about high-voltage power cables, my opinion is that they should always be shielded. In my experience, the design changes necessary to make compliant systems that don’t have shielded high-voltage cables add more to the overall cost and weight than the shields. They’re also less safe and more likely to fail.

Q: Do you think standards related to EMC compliance tests need to be updated to better reflect real equipment configuration inside a car?
A: Yes. Not in terms of the geometries or electrical configurations necessarily, but in terms of the field strengths and modulations. The goal of the test should not be to replicate a particular system configuration. The goal should be to design a test such that components and systems that pass the test will not have emissions or immunity problems in the real-world.

Q: What do you think needs to be done to synergize EMC designer, EMC simulation engineer and EMC test engineer?
A: They all need to learn from each other. Anything that gets them working together is probably good. However, the design engineer should not be redesigning the product after it enters the test lab.

Q: Is it possible to make component level EMC specs completely independent of system level EMC specs?
A: They are already fairly independent. When the process works the way it is supposed to, good component designs pass the component-level tests and good system designs made with good components pass the system-level tests. When there are failures at the system level even though the components passed the component-level tests, it is generally because bad component designs were patched and tweaked until they made it through EMC tests in one particular lab.

Q: Do you think today’s EMC testing equipment is adequate for the future job?
A: As far as I can tell, it is adequate. New test procedures may require new types of test equipment though. We’ll see.

Q: How do you deal with firmware updates and EMC testing?
A: I believe the automotive industry has to improve in this area. All firmware updates should be reviewed for potential EMC effects, and in many cases, products should be retested.

Q: Why do most companies pay less attention to EMC in their design process but would rather just want their device to pass tests.
A: Some companies do an excellent job of addressing EMC early on. Other companies may lack the expertise or the motivation to pay much attention to EMC until it is a proven disaster.

Q: How much is leveraging EMC results in product design ideal in EMC?
A: I’m not sure how to quantify leverage, but I’d say EMC should be a major part of the design process; to the same extent as thermal and mechanical design.

Q: Do you have any advice for EMC test engineers, especially in the automotive domain?
A: Keep learning!!! (And hang in there! The future looks bright!)