How the penetration of software in the cockpit paved the way for a new era in the automotive industry | The Financial Express

How the penetration of software in the cockpit paved the way for a new era in the automotive industry

We call a car a mobile device on wheels; in reality, it’s the whole enterprise network running on wheels. Multiple devices and multiple operating systems should work as a single unit—in harmony, as though orchestrated.

How the penetration of software in the cockpit paved the way for a new era in the automotive industry

By: Rahul Singh, Software Director, Visteon

We are witnessing the dawn of a new era: Passenger cars are evolving from an oil-filled heap of metal into mobile devices stuffed with software and silicon. 

Consumers lean toward connected tech. Connectivity and connected services will be the area where competitive battles will be fought.

Offering consumers, a choice of connected services along with over-the-air software updates has become a critical requirement for new vehicles.

The cockpit of the future vehicles will have multiple, large displays and offer advanced features including informational ADAS, Android-based infotainment, voice smart assistants, built-in apps, augment reality for navigation, 360-degree surround view and cloud-based media and other services. 

These increases in capabilities will turn the cars into computing devices; cars will no more be shackled to obsolete technology but can be updated wirelessly over the air eliminating the need to replace the hardware to further extend the platform’s lifecycle. 

These will also be designed to keep pace with the changes happening in the consumer electronics world—nudging the automakers to push frequent updates for the device to stay fresh over the years. 

However, these delightful features also increase the software complexity—mandating the scrutiny and testing of each piece of code; the car must be designed with a very high degree of fault tolerance. 

An error in the programming can be catastrophic —jeopardizing the vehicle’s safety. When the function or feature does not perform as expected in a smartphone or computer, the option is to reboot it. That can be difficult to do with a car if it is racing out of control on a highway or refusing to stop on a steep ramp.

We call a car a mobile device on wheels; in reality, it’s the whole enterprise network running on wheels. Multiple devices and multiple operating systems should work as a single unit—in harmony, as though orchestrated.

From a vehicle architecture standpoint, domain controllers—based on the ECU integration concept—with advanced silicon and software technologies will enable automakers to offer these kinds of advanced intuitive user experiences in the cockpit. These future vehicles will be based on high-performance and centralized computing systems that reduce the number of ECUs in the vehicle and enable the industry’s transition to software-defined vehicles. (Today’s cars have 50 to 150 ECUs and millions of lines of code running on them.)

However, it’s easier said than done. Diverse technologies and different skill sets are required to bring a software-laden vehicle to life and then on the road. 

Opportunities: 

The increasing complexity of developing in-car software will change the automotive landscape.

The systems performing single functions that were previously meant to be closed with no option to update will now be “always on”, “always listening” and “always updating”.

But the successful execution of the connected canvas will largely depend on the collaboration between the ecosystem players, and how they work together to provide a seamless experience to the end customer. And navigate the transition to a software-oriented industry. The courtship between the automakers and the suppliers is the key to the progressive development of the mobility industry. 

We are in the initial days of making the car a node on the network and then bringing all the other capabilities of big data and cloud computing, high-performance computing to the edge.  

The capability and skills required to build these systems will be very different from what is needed to build traditional cockpit electronics. We will need different kinds of skills in software. We will need people that can build tech—faster. The business models will change, and monetizing opportunities will also be introduced. 

We will see a race for talent. These are early days, so a lot of opportunities will emerge.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author. These views and opinions do not represent those of The Indian Express Group or its employees.

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First published on: 11-10-2022 at 13:05 IST