The automotive engine control sensor art is the pacing factor in the introduction of microcomputer-based engine controls. The field remains in a transient state, with multiple engine control law philosophies, a wide variety of control parameters in use or proposed for use, and proliferation of sensing concepts for those parameters. This paper builds upon the author’s 1978 SAE Transactions paper “A Worldwide Overview of Automotive Engine Control Sensor Technology,” emphasizing sensor developments which have occurred in the meanwhile and indicating some trends which are becoming visible.
New sensors for conventional control parameters are described, including a hybrid aneroid-semiconductor strain-gage manifold absolute pressure (MAP) sensor; a hot-wire anemometer air flowmeter; a ball-in-race, optical pickoff fuel flowmeter; and a new solid-state magnetic crank angle piezoceramic position detector. Piezoceramic and magnetostrictive knock sensors for knock limit governing loops, a thin-film NOx sensor, and oxygen sensors suitable for lean-burn engine control are discussed as sensors for new parameters. Work on sensors for electronic diesel engine control is mentioned, along with new engine control signals derived from crankshaft position sensing.
Progress toward generating guidelines and specifications in the sensor area is reported for the SAE Transducer Subcommittee of the Electronic Systems Committee; the SAE Emissions-related Electrical Equipment Subcommittee of the Electrical Equipment Committee; the International Standards Organization Working Group 3, and the International Symposium on Automotive Technology and Automation (ISATA) Sensors Working Group.