Automotive Engineering Ecosystem Quo Vadis?
Industry Lead Transportation QuEST Global
Since the very beginning, the automobile has always played a pivotal role, be it technological, economic, or in social innovation. It has always been central to many human inventions to change the way people move from one place to another. Digital disruption is no news for the automotive industry. The very profound disruption that holds massive social and economic benefits comes with new competitors that emerged from the IT and Consumer Electronics worlds. Apple, Google, Tencent, Uber, Alibaba, and Baidu are also busy developing revolutionary new mobility solutions. The Teslas of the world are already there with its notion breaking vehicles. Automated driving is making its presence felt faster than ever. The vehicle’s interior is quickly going digital.
A new architecture is emerging that can take advantage of the state of the art in consumer electronics, internet connectivity, cloud computing as well as swarm intelligence. Automotive Industry opens up in many directions and the four leading trends that are shaping the future of mobility are ‘connected’, ‘autonomous’, ‘shared’ and ‘electric’, in short CASE or ACES.
Connected Vehicles – The Future is Already Here!
Traditional Automotive Industry has already matured. Carmakers are trying to bring in product differentiation by providing intelligent and connected features. Each vehicle can see the other using sophisticated communication technology that helps them exchange location, position, direction, etc. for safer and hassle-free commute. Increased computing power as well as the adoption of open standards, leads to a safer on road experience. There are already efforts by major players in the open standard world, to meet the safety-critical needs of the next-generation automobiles. Connected cars are poised to become very potent information platforms that bring a better user experiences, paving the way for newer business avenues such as On-Demand services. 5G technologies providing deterministic latency and higher throughput make it possible to run applications on the cloud and provide viable and intelligent services on the move.
Even though there is no best approach and connected cars are ubiquitous, each automaker has its own set of issues, which it needs to deal with. On a broader note, it is inevitable for the OEMS to accept the change and upscale their capabilities to match up, without which there is a chance of finding themselves obsolete.
Autonomous Vehicles – Are We There Yet?
Vehicles are now smarter than ever. Be it road safety challenges or eminent climate warnings, vehicles work in sync with the driver’s convenience level and moving from raw performance to more functional and convenience features. Self-driving vehicles combine an assortment of sensors that help them perceive their surroundings as they are capable of interpreting sensory information using advanced control systems to identify appropriate navigation paths, including obstacles and relevant signage.
Distributed ECUs are making way for consolidated central controllers, better known as Domain Control Units (DCU), as OEMs look for ways to overcome drawbacks of ‘federated architectures’. Consolidated ECUs assure lower manufacturing cost, less vehicle weight, more future-proof features, and increased security while also promising faster time to market. Automakers can rely on differentiation by bringing in Software-defined features that are flexible, agile, and intensive into the car as they take charge of software. The size of software present in a modern high-end car will be well over 100 million lines; ISO 26262 sets the functional safety standard – developing ISO 26262 compliant automotive systems design and development, including hardware as well as software elements is key.
Shared Mobility – Changing the Ownership Model, Usher in Top Mileage!
There is an increasing acceptance of shared mobility that is bound to change the automotive industry in a good way. As a consumer this brings the opportunity to consider vehicle-as-a-service rather than owning one. Users can pick the type of vehicle based on need of the hour, for example a smaller car for the daily office commute while an SUV for the weekend getaway.
This changes the relationship in the vehicle-owner-OEM-ecosystem. Dominant players like fleet owners will become owners of the vehicles providing services to end users. This can potentially disrupt the revenue model of OEMs.
e-Mobility – The Newest Star of the Automobile Universe
Electric vehicles, with their endless possibilities and numerous challenges, are a thing to reckon. To rule out the challenges like the carbon footprint issues that the world is facing, electric vehicles seem to have the right answer. “There are 900 million vehicles on the road, over 95 percent of which run on fossil fuels. And the number of vehicles is forecast to rise to 1,100 million by 2020.” 2
Electric vehicles provide another technology option that offers opportunities to develop new vehicle management systems, energy recovery systems, added efficient auxiliary systems as well as a communications system that will bring in the much-needed relief.
The ready disruption in the broader transportation industry is a living testament that is in need of a combined effort.
How Suited is the Current Automotive Engineering Ecosystem to Meet the Need
Today, Automotive OEMs, both tier 1 and tier 2, along with suppliers, are looking at investing in R&D to scale up their core capabilities to stay in the race. Today automakers purchase infotainment systems and vehicle control systems from tier 1 suppliers who can tightly embed software components within their product. If an automaker wants to change suppliers, it must validate and test the complete product including HW and SW stack – an enormously time-consuming and expensive endeavor.
OEMs are driving the decoupling of SW and HW which has already been proven in the infotainment domain. Head units are now able to accommodate software such as navigation from the best-in-class third-party suppliers, who offer the application as a part.
How does the Ecosystem of Future Look Like?
As the Automotive Industry adapts to these changes that will impact how we travel, how we use our cars, what new features and services can be offered, and most of which players will be likely staying at the top of the evolving automotive ecosystem, there is a plethora of possibilities. The ready disruption in the broader transportation industry is a living testament that is in need of a combined effort. At the same time, OEMs should be ready with their thinking caps to distinguish the procurement functions for traditional services and digital services.
OEMs – by driving the decoupling of SW and HW – are taking control of the SW which is more and more defining the character of the vehicle. OEMs are forging relationships with SW vendors who were traditionally working with the Tier 1 suppliers.
QuEST Global has been working extensively with some of the top global leaders in the automotive domain. QuEST’s services & technology alignment reflect our understanding of tomorrow’s challenges and vision of future mobility. QuEST Global offers various accelerator solutions like adaptive FOTA, AR/VR platforms, smart parking solutions, deep learning-based ADAS solutions, which are completely aligned to the needs of the future of mobility.
QuEST Global Engineering is cognizant to these changes in the Automotive Engineering ecosystem. With our deep domain knowledge in the Automotive Industry and our engineering expertise in Mechanical, Electronics, Software, and Digital Technologies, we are well positioned to address the needs of both – OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers.
Having worked with some of the worlds largest Automotive OEMs and component suppliers, we understand the importance of delivering value to the Automotive Industry keeping the end customer in mind – the drivers and the passenger.