How can software engineers unleash the potential in mobility industry? | The Financial Express

How can software engineers unleash the potential in mobility industry?

The automotive and mobility industry is going through a transformation not witnessed in the last 100 years. 


By Anup Sable

Automobiles are changing rapidly from purely mechanical machines in the 1900s to software on wheels today. If you see

  • 77% of vehicles on global roads to be Connected Vehicles by 2030, 
  • 15% of all new cars would be Autonomous Vehicles by 2030, 
  • 9% of all global miles traveled will be Shared Mobility by 2030,
  • 145 million Electric Vehicles will be on global roads by 2030

The evolution of software in automobiles

As mass adoption of vehicles started there was increasing focus put towards building safer, comfortable, and fuel-efficient vehicles. Manufacturers deployed control systems, sensors, and actuators to develop new features leading to the increase of electronics and software in the vehicle. From power steering in the 1950s to Advanced Driver Assistance Systems & Autonomous Driving in the 2020s, the automotive and mobility industry is going through a transformation not witnessed in the last 100 years. 

Global Demand for cleaner, smarter, safer vehicles driving the CASE Megatrends

This disruption is being driven by the CASE or Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric trend. Vehicles of the future will be connected to other vehicles and the infrastructure (V2X or Cloud), will drive themselves (Autonomous,) and will be clean (Electric or other alternate power trains)This technological change means vehicles will have a tremendous amount of electronics and software, for e.g., an airplane has 14 million lines of code whereas a modern car has more than 100 million lines of code and the next generation Autonomous Vehicle will have  550 million lines of code. The entire experience of how humans will interact with vehicles will be defined by software. From unlocking your car through facial recognition or upgrading the latest features in your car via Over-the-air software updates.

Modern technologies leading to complex architectures

All this software also means extremely high computation and complex architectures. While the software or algorithms are able to analyze, interpret, and provide signals to the actuators (brakes, steering etc.) all the computation must happen in Electronic Control Units (ECUs) or the chipsets in the vehicle. A modern car will have 70-80 ECUs and all of them communicate over automotive communication network like CAN bus, LIN or Flexray. Newer features & functions that enable CASE are constantly being introduced leading to increasing complexity, thus vehicle manufacturers are now moving towards immensely powerful Central Computer Based Architectures as against a network of numerous small ECUs.

Transformation to Software Defined Vehicles

From highly electromechanical machines to connected intelligent, upgradable, mobile electronic devices – the automobile is transforming towards ‘Software-Defined Vehicles’ (SDV). This software technology trend of SDV is enabled via a ‘Car Operating System” or Car.OS and every leading global manufacturer is putting together a strategy and developing the same. The OS comprises 4-5 layers i.e., Middleware to separate the hardware from software, APIs, Edge Compute Applications that will run in the car, Continuous Software Updates, and Seamless cloud integrations. The vehicle is now becoming an extension of a cloud which means it should be possible to run applications in the car or in the cloud or both with an intelligent split of the functionality.

Confluence of Software Technologies

Thus, not only is the amount of software content rising in vehicles, but the way software is being written is also changing. It is no more simple embedded software written in ‘C’, but a modern car has software that is a confluence of a range of technologies, from C, C++, ROS, Kubernetes, Android, iOS and more. The range of software technologies being deployed is vast and nothing is off-limits! Some of the software will in the car and some will be in the cloud. Typically, a large part of the software that sits in the car in the ECUs (Edge compute) is written in C & C++, especially for the control-oriented software and functionally critical software. Additional Linux, Java, Android, and Go are also being used to develop software inside the car. All these software technologies are enabled by very high-powered multicore chips or computers that can run complex Deep learning networks.

Extremely high Talent Demand and Great Career Opportunities

This rising complexity & technology shift is driving the high demand for Talent both in the number of engineers required and the range of skills. No more is the case that one needs only automotive work experience to become a part of this industry and build a career. Talent with expertise in any software technology whether from a cloud perspective or an in-vehicle perspective or connectivity perspective can find excellent career opportunities.

Young engineers with degrees in Electrical & Electronics Engineering (EEE), Electronics & Communication Engineering (ECE), Computer Science & Engineering (CSE), and Information Technology (IT) and Computer Science graduates will find great opportunities to build a career in the Automotive Software development world. The opportunities to work on the latest in technologies like AI, ML, DL, Virtualization, and Cloud computing are tremendous, and employers today have great learning and development programs. Typically, young engineers and fresh graduates will start their careers in Verification & Validation & Software development growing to Tech Leads and then to Solution architects with opportunities to work on multiple technologies and solutions & innovations on the way. 

Similarly, professionals from any industry can explore opportunities in the Automotive industry and deploy their skills on unique solutions and projects. With global complex programs that are being executed in the Agile methodology across 3-4 countries with large teams, the opportunity to work with teams from different nationalities or in different countries is aplenty. 

In Summary

This is a rapidly growing industry with a clear focus on technology and innovation and all the global manufacturers and organizations and making large investments both in Talent and Technology. This is the right time to be in the automotive & mobility industry to build a great career especially if you are looking to work on cutting-edge technologies, drive innovation, learn and get best-in-class compensation & incentives in a global environment.

The author is the CTO of KPIT Technologies

Disclaimer: Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position of the author’s institution or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited.

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First published on: 12-12-2022 at 16:04 IST
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