The world of EVs and SDVs is moving fast and evolving faster. The themes from this year’s Automotive News Congress events reflected the remarkable diversity and depth of issues that the industry and partners like Wipro are actively addressing. From batteries and public policy to innovation and new business models, it was fitting to end the 2022 Congress series with a discussion of how to deliver growth by leveraging the entire automotive ecosystem.
Automotive OEMs and Tier 1s are compelled to accomplish far more than any single company can achieve on its own. This is just as true in the design and engineering arena as it is in the manufacturing and distribution phases of a vehicle’s lifecycle. An engineering and software evolution is underway that will redefine the future of the industry. The scope and scale of expertise required to navigate this change requires close collaboration with a network of trusted partners. As these changes push vehicles closer to becoming smart IoT devices, it’s important to reflect on the ties that bound the 2022 Congresses and the integration required to forge a path forward.
EVs and Batteries
One of the most dominant issues in the automotive industry is electrification. This year saw more adoption and acceptance of EVs, which in turn brought several battery issues to the top of the conversation. From a technology standpoint, battery range, charging time and component sustainability have become critical topics. Engineers worldwide are actively working to reduce battery weight, extend battery life, boost charging time, and find alternative chemistries that may be safer than today’s dominant options. R&D teams are also exploring exciting possibilities like over-the-air (OTA) charging. Clearly the need for advanced engineering shows no sign of abating if OEMs are to capitalize on these promising opportunities.
As EVs grow more and more advanced, the number of embedded sensors and systems is also growing. This results in massive volumes of data to collect and analyze in order to gain insights that will drive future enhancements and safety. Battery management has quickly become a critical-path feature. Effectively analyzing battery data using advanced algorithms like those offered in Wipro’s EV Battery Management System will play an essential role in improving battery performance, safety and driving range.
Public policy has long played a role in the automotive industry, from safety and emissions to efficiency and a number of other issues. It will be no different in a world dominated by EVs and software-defined vehicles. A robust charging infrastructure is necessary to shift EV adoption into overdrive. Policymakers can accelerate this transition by developing policies that promote a wide network of charge point solutions, and perhaps even address battery charging times. A broad public embrace of EVs might also be aided with government incentives for EV home charging and a dense mesh of metro, urban and long-distance fast-charging solutions. End-user demand for EVs picked-up dramatically in 2022; public policies can help drive it even higher.
Automotive Innovation and New Business Models
The move to SDV platforms will transform how automotive participants design, develop, service and sell vehicles. Innovation will come from three primary areas: integrating hardware and software while freeing them to operate independently, leveraging data to improve safety, and reimagining the role of automotive software to develop and enable new monetization models.
Bifurcating Hardware and Software
The automotive industry has historically responded to rapid technological advancements in a fast but familiar way: by integrating tech into vehicles at the hardware level. First, technology was a series of domains and controllers. The evolution then moved to zonal compute platforms with multiple control centers or brains. But the growing demand for new software-defined features and the current complex automotive architecture are no longer compatible.
Currently, there is a tight relationship between automotive software and hardware. In the future, the hardware-software relationship will primarily be decoupled. The next evolution of vehicle technology will bifurcate hardware and software to support seamless connectivity and interoperability with other systems. This decoupling will allow for the adoption of technology (cloud, edge, and cloud-native technologies like microservices, containers, zero-trust and automation) that will generate continuous innovation, similar to the innovation cycle in mobile devices.
Data-Driven Safety Innovations
The state of vehicle-technology design is untenable. It is too complex. The entanglement is difficult to change, troubleshoot, or add new features. And most importantly, it is harder to find vulnerabilities that could allow a vehicle to be remotely hacked.
Separating features based on criticality and isolating security and safety features makes it easier to maintain, diagnose and debug. Such a software split has historically been challenging, but new resources like those in Wipro’s Cloud Car ecosystem actively enable it, streamlining the certification processes by separating safety features from non-essential functions such as infotainment. This liberates OEMs to be bold and frequent with non-critical innovations while still taking the utmost care to ensure driver and passenger safety.
In addition, a new breed of vehicle high-performance computing platforms and a “shadow mode” approach to software development will allow OEMs to learn and understand driving data from the entire fleet. This approach will deliver improved advanced driver assistance solutions (ADAS) solutions and other safety enhancements yet to be determined. Safety regulations in most countries have mandated the use of ADAS, meaning new cars have a required minimum set of built-in digital assistants and their respective sensors. Analyzing sensor data will improve the safety of ADAS features and likely lead to new safety features.
The next generation of vehicles will require a Cloud Car architecture to improve safety while enabling innovation. Using such a platform will empower OEMs to accelerate and simplify SDV and EV development while incorporating other technologies such as 5G, cloud, AI, and machine learning. When the automotive system can identify and respond to inputs inside and outside its doors, OEMs with take automotive safety to another level, even when the underlying software is miles away.
Software-Defined Business Models
As the industry moves closer to making smart devices with wheels, manufacturers need to shift from existing work structures to an approach that empowers them to develop, deploy and maintain software with speed and accuracy. This shift requires them to embrace the cloud.
Adopting the cloud and cloud technologies will enable the industry to follow the benefit structure that software developers enjoy using OTA updates. Downloaded vehicle software will open new revenue streams for manufacturers, dealers, and Tier 1s alike, whether from value-added functions or new digital marketplaces or business models not yet conceived.
The SDV model includes capturing and analyzing volumes of sensor data to improve every aspect of vehicle development and the driving experience. The engineering power and connectivity required to achieve this are immense and will only increase in the future. The most efficient way to benefit from data is by leveraging swarm-based learning, a principle of observing and collecting driving data from across the fleet to inform future software upgrades.
This data-centric design can improve vehicle safety, drive new revenue, increase a vehicle’s long-term residual value, boost sales and open new markets by creating a car that gets better every day. It is time to shift away from the decades-old auto-engineering mindset. Automobiles can no longer be static products; they must be adaptable platforms capable of growth.
Growth via the Automotive Ecosystem
Automotive technology will enable long-term growth, but the number of advanced specializations required is too high for any single OEM, supplier or company to navigate alone. Automotive participants need to lean on a network of professionals and a few qualified ecosystem orchestrators to integrate their innovations smoothly.
As discussed at the December Congress, these partner ecosystems must encompass everything from driver experience to finance, from APIs to security, and from cloud to safety. In today’s talent environment, an ecosystem approach is essential to sufficiently address these aspects, go to market faster and explore new innovations.
Cloud services are a key consideration. The cloud’s near-infinite scalability enables OEMs and Tier 1s to deliver new features and functionality quickly and affordably to meet market demands. Using the cloud to create long-term scalability and bringing app-style development and architecture to the automotive world, serves the interests of owners and OEMs alike.
Owners can keep vehicles longer, customize the in-vehicle experience to their liking, and benefit in other ways from modern downloadable features that essentially give them a new car every day. Meanwhile, OEMs that deliver these features via the cloud and OTA updates – much like smartphones are automatically updated – will benefit from faster time-to-market, the ability to deliver services and hotfixes without the vehicle leaving the owner’s driveway, and the creation of new revenue streams.
The Road Ahead for Automotive Technology
Automotive technology has become too complex to tackle alone. The auto industry is laying foundations and building partnerships today to accelerate EV and SDV innovation at scale and speed. These efforts will deliver an improved driver experience and establish new paths for OEM and Tier 1 growth.
In the new automotive ecosystem, electrification, software-defined architecture and shared mobility data will remake automakers into data-driven businesses, opening new revenue streams and providing the ability to respond quickly to market demands.
The discussions we’ve had at this year’s Automotive News Congresses are an encouraging sign of OEMs, Tier 1s and industry partners like Wipro taking steps forward together to accelerate the adoption, evolution, and growth of EVs and SDVs for decades to come. We look forward to continuing these discussions and enabling OEMs and suppliers to regain their competitive edge through a fresh approach to automotive engineering.