Guest blog: The era of connected cars

Vasant Easwaran

Vasant Easwaran from Cyient Semiconductor explains why collaboration is key for the car of tomorrow

In the ever-evolving landscape of connected cars, new technologies are constantly moving to the forefront, each growing at their own rate and in their own capacity. Autosar, radar, lidar, Automotive Grade Linux, V2X, Android, HMI, deep learning and cameras of all kinds will become staples in every connected car of the future.

As suppliers and OEMs ride the wave of rapid innovation, a number of key ecosystem partners have carved out their value propositions, looking to help the suppliers meet their end goals at the highest quality levels set forth by the automotive standards.

The need for technology in the connected cars market requires no explanation given the need for driver and passenger safety and the associated ecological advantages. Automotive forums such as the Euro New Car Assessment Programme and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are driving faster reforms in legislation, mandating the need for safety features in semi and fully autonomous vehicles, while OEM initiatives such as the Toyota Safety Sense and community-based initiatives such as Vision Zero are bringing safety features to cars even sooner than specific legislation comes in to play.

The Motor Intelligence Report estimates that nearly three-quarters of the 92 million cars shipped globally will be connected by 2020. When looking at the cost parity between electric vehicles and combustion engine vehicles, car companies and communities are incentivised to achieve or exceed this target in the next five to ten years across all regions, with an even greater increase in electric car sales beyond 2020.

Europe is expected to lead the way with electric vehicles estimated to make up thirty per cent of its total car sales by the end of 2025. Given the pace of innovation and the amount of work still to be done, it is imperative that the entire supply chain is actively and heavily engaged in making the technological transition within the required time frame.

Driverless, connected car technologies include the use of smart sensors (radar, lidar and cameras), communication mechanisms (V2X and GPS), and intelligent fusion systems (deep learning) used to determine free space and avoid obstacles for autonomous driving. However, arriving at the right technology is not simple when considering the challenges associated with achieving ideal safety, including environmental conditions, human behaviour and costs in different regional markets.

Connected car products also include evolving infotainment displays, which are implemented into a digital cockpit or dashboard. Made in a variety of shapes and sizes, these displays highlight information related to the speedometer, navigation maps, head-up displays, audio, video, connectivity and cameras around the car. All this is made possible with the use of applications built around high-level operating systems such as Android, QNX and Apple CarPlay.

Another significant challenge is the high cost of the vehicles in which all of these come together, making the technology accessible only to a very niche consumer base. To solve this problem, a variety of ownership models are being considered to ensure these vehicles are widely available. Companies such as Waymo and Uber are envisioning a lease programme, giving a larger number of consumers the opportunity to use driverless cars.

At the actual implementation level as well, the connected car is challenging as the system involves multiple different technical aspects, right from the asics, automotive specific hardware board design with interference protection, power management, embedded software, application software, and IoT to the cloud analytics, working together as an ISO 26262 compliant system. All these aspects need to work together as a robust system with reliability, hence it is critical that they should not be developed completely independent of each other. Developing complete products with all the experts together not only helps ensure robust systems but also accelerates the time to market.

Vasant Easwaran is a senior manager for automotive at Cyient Semiconductor


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