Microchip Technology has signed a patent license agreement with the German automaker BMW AG that will provide BMW with access to Microchip-owned patents covering the use of microcontrollers/microprocessors in battery-monitoring sensors, including conventional 12-V vehicles. BMW designs and implements battery and power-monitoring sensors that track energy use and battery conditions in automotive applications.
Microchip acquired the licensed technology as part of the PowerSmart acquisition in 2002. Microchip also manufactures key semiconductor components used in power sensors, including voltage regulators, memory chips and advanced microcontrollers needed for data transmission. The integration of digital components with traditional analog current sensors is the subject of the licensed patents.
"The significant growth of electronics in vehicles has created an expanding need for power management in vehicles" said Ganesh Moorthy, vice president of Microchip's Advanced Microcontroller and Memory Division. "By making the SmartShunt technology patents available for license, we hope to enable the expanded use of integrated current sensors in all automotive designs. BMW is a leader in the use of this type of sensor, and we expect to see other automakers follow their lead."