Publication Name: AutoTech Review
Date: November 2014
The global automotive industry is in the midst of a sweeping revolution that promises to bring more changes to future vehicles than all changes in vehicles put-together since they began to be used actively over a century ago. The rapid pace at which the technological developments are happening, it won't be very long before every third person in the US or Europe is going to own an autonomous car.
A few years back, a normal consumer needed a car to help him/ her travel from one destination to another, but as time progressed their needs changed quite drastically. What consumers are looking at in a future car is safety & security features, increased connectivity & entertainment-on-the-go, more comfort and minimal physical interaction, a highly efficient and performance oriented car. To address this ever-increasing list of consumer needs, we will witness increased pace of technological advancements, with automotive electronics playing a crucial role to satisfy all future needs.
Many tasks that needed manual intervention have already been reduced or automated. From inserting your key to enter the car, pressing of individual buttons to run every function, stopping your car to answer a phone call, constantly checking of the meter console are all things of the past. Electronic systems like head-up-displays (HUD), passive entry passive start (PEPS), tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), voice & gesture-based control technologies, and augmented reality, etc. are already in place and continuing to grow.
Tata Elxsi has been at the forefront of developing and integrating some of these solutions for global automakers. We are involved in making the car look classier by developing futuristic cockpits by adding innovative HMI screens. We are also committed towards making the car safer by developing advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) like lane departure warning that alerts the driver if he/ she veers away from the lanes, drowsiness detection system to warn if the driver gets drowsy behind the wheel, blind spot monitoring that enables one to see areas around the car that you could never see with standard mirrors, and so on.
Connected car is one big area that has been swept by the revolutionising concept called Internet of Things. Tata Elxsi's embedded product engineering business cuts across the key segments like automotive, telecom and consumer electronics, where the adoption of M2M/ Internet of Things promises to make a big difference to the automotive world. The widespread adoption of handheld devices like smartphones and tablets has been influencing the automotive industry to change the customer driving experience.
Presently, the user can enter a car and pair his/ her smartphone to the head unit and activate a set of functions like taking calls, navigate, play audio/ video, among others. Soon the expensive infotainment head units could get replaced by smartphones with numerous applications like cloud-based navigation, fuel reminders, driver profile, locating parked vehicles, real-time traffic scenario, battery state of charge, emergency/ service assist, and remote vehicle interaction, which will be more ground breaking.
The development of vehicle-based and smartphone-based applications that helps OEMs and Tier I suppliers change the driving experience for the consumer, is already in vogue.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
Having said this, tomorrow's vehicle electrical architecture will become more complex as the car gets connected to multiple networks and ECUs, with different technologies running on the background. A user entering the car and connecting his personal device to the head unit could compromise vehicle security. Similarly, improved connectivity enables the car to access information continuously from the cloud, which again becomes vulnerable to potential hacking by unauthorised users tampering the ECU data, thereby taking control of the vehicle.
Tomorrow's vehicles should provide connectivity to the consumer devices, but it should be safe, authentic and secure. We are working on building security platforms like secured gateway modules, which shall act as a central point for the wired and wireless networks and prevents unauthorised usage.
Tomorrow's cars will be able to act as a personal assistant by helping us plan the day by suggesting solutions such as the best possible route to office, and what time to leave home. For all this to happen, the amount of electronics going inside the vehicle will increase as more exciting features for safety, comfort, infotainment and telematics are getting added. However, this results in increased vehicle cost. The challenge for technology solution providers is to develop innovative solutions, keeping in mind the needs for the future, while being cost-effective at the same time.
Tata Elxsi continues to focus on enabling the development of innovative products and technologies, which includes new platforms and solutions for connected cars, in-car infotainment, body & chassis, powertrain systems, next generation UI/UX and enhanced safety for the passengers by developing advanced driver assistance solutions.