Connected cars and their impact

Jul 07 2014, 10:28 IST
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SummaryThere is a paradigm shift in the automotive industry today, from predominantly a mechanical driven to software driven vehicles.

GM, Chevrolet, Mazda, and Lexus related to safety issue as reported by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. With software becoming an integral part of car electronics, and wireless broadband connectivity such as LTE pre-integrated into the cars, the original equipment manufacturer (OEMs) can proactively analyse critical vehicle parameters every milli-second and provide timely inputs on pro-active maintenance either by directing the user to go to the nearest service center or even pushing software fixes over the air. This is expected to benefit the users as well as the manufacturer in terms of increasing car safety and minimising the cost of vehicle re-calls.

Though most of the major car manufacturers such as Benz, Nissan, Volvo and Hyundai have their software development centres in India, third party outsourcing in this sector is expected to pick up due to the above trends. Experiments with Tesla, the electric car promoted by Elon Musk illustrates that the car OEMs need to shift their focus from power and efficiency towards embedded electronics and software in the years to come. However, the moot question is whether the OEMs will retain control over their electronics and embedded systems to differentiate their auto offerings compared to how they did it with engines and transmission systems. Or will they collaborate and create a federated system of components that are standardised in some form for third parties to adapt and improvise.

Two interesting cases are worth looking at. First, Google’s driverless “autonomous” cars is driven entirely by software. With features such as Traffic Jam Assist, the electric car can navigate traffic jams and accident spots intelligently. Fitted with sensors that can see 600 feet in all directions, Google’s autonomous cars are just the beginning of software controlled cars. However, Google has clearly indicated that it is not into car manufacturing. However, it will need the ecosystem of car manufacturers, auto components manufacturers and embedded system makers to turn its dream in to reality.

Second, is the recent announcement by Musk to create an open-source based model for the development of key components and the associated infrastructure for electric cars. The model if adopted will standardise the components of electric car and hence will drive price points to affordable limits.

However, Musk and Sergey Brin need to convince the law makers on the possibility of software taking over human controls and also standardise ecosystem components such as road-side infrastructure to maximise benefits. This battle between

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