"Smart'' sensor concepts must be considered as the demands of advanced automotive systems increase. These concepts are strongly influenced by the architectural and dependability aspects of future systems. Key features of smart sensors are: communication (two way) with a digital data bus, self- calibration, error source compensation, self-diagnostics, and programmability for "plug and play.'' This paper contains a discussion of the basic future sensor requirements, and it assesses four major sensor technologies with respect to their suitability to meet these requirements. For each technology, the merits and demerits will be reviewed and an example sensing application will be given in order to demonstrate how the technology can be adapted to meet the future requirements.