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View from India: Megatrends and key challenges

NI, the provider of a software-defined platform that helps accelerate the development and performance of automated test and automated measurement systems, has announced the release of NI Trend Watch 2019.

NI Trend Watch 2019 explores the Internet of Things (IoT), the commercial deployment of 5G and autonomous driving for the masses.

This year’s report looks at megatrends and key challenges, including automated test and automated measurement. The report examines the most crucial engineering trends and challenges of the changing technology landscape, including IoT, the progression of 5G technology from prototyping to commercial deployment and autonomous driving for the masses.

The transition from 4G to 5G ushers in a new era of wireless testing. The key differentiator is that the network and ecosystem need to gear up for more traffic moving at exponential speed and this can be attributed to complex connected systems and devices. Naturally, all this will involve its fair share of challenges.

With multiple devices and systems connected, the instrumentation architecture should have the bandwidth to test systems and give an insight into real-time test data. The architecture should also be able to adapt to different applications which require different frequency domains. The radio frequency identification (RFID) signals in the systems and devices needs to be scaled to handle different frequencies.

“Our company made an early entry into 5G prototyping, beginning with the education segment. Now we apply it to test-product implementation across verticals,” said Yiannis Pavlou, regional marketing director, EMEIA, speaking at the 15th annual NIDays, ‘Future Faster’. Broadly speaking, NI or National Instruments’ portfolio of offerings finds applications in diverse verticals like the semiconductor space, transportation, aerospace and defence and academic research.

Autonomous vehicles will bring a paradigm shift in the driving landscape of India. Autonomous driving could have a major societal impact, but the industry must manage looming cost, technology and strategy trade-offs as it shifts from single to multi-sensor advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). In a nutshell, automotives as a vertical will experience a technology disruption. The impact will extend to sensor fusion in components like cameras, radars and lidars. These components are required to integrate the safety factor for driving. “As per the 2018 World Health Organization (WHO) Report on Road Traffic Injuries, 1.25 million humans die in road traffic, 90 per cent of the world fatalities on roads occur in low and middle-income countries,” explained Pavlou.

The need for high-performance computation is increasing in order to handle several systems embedded within autonomous vehicles. This has also given rise to unique business models. “Mahindra and Mahindra Limited, an Indian multinational car manufacturing corporation, has used the NI LabView software platform for standardised scenario-based lab testing. Unlike the regular field trials, the lab process reduced the test time, improved the test coverage and enhanced customer experience. The test process took into account vehicle telematics like tracking, geo-fencing and route planning,” added Aditi Chauhan, head of field marketing, EMEIA, National Instruments.

Standardisation is a crucial module of the trends of the future. Standardisation is the norm for the platform or process to be agile. Consequently, test engineers are going beyond hardware and software to standardise the process used to build and maintain test architecture.

The test system software should be scalable, quite similar to the IoT architecture. It requires an understanding of how the software stack gets architected, how to set up instrumentation, where the visualisation needs to be placed and hardware requirements. Consequently, it becomes important to handle test development and the industry should have the capability to take it forward. IoT is one of the technologies that will make the test scenario work. While IoT is increasing device complexity and, in turn, increasing test complexity, it can also greatly enhance automated test workflows. IoT capabilities extend to system management and analytics. 

In the semiconductor space, semiconductor companies are incorporating innovative test solutions and packaging components into the digital ecosystem to improve the functionality of core areas like character, validation and verification.

On the one side, forthcoming technology trends will disrupt many of the existing processes; on the other, they will lead to a convergence of different platforms and ideas across industries and engineering domains. Multi-industry convergence helps leverage machine learning, network of systems and helps integrate system into the software. The potential to speed innovation and deliver products at precision levels never imagined before are among the possible outcome-based results.

The software-centric platforms and ecosystem must have the design and test capabilities to take over enterprise-wide connectivity. Multi-industry partnerships can facilitate learning across industries besides offering a beneficial perspective on complex test and design challenges.

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