View from India: Software is the heart of mobility

Cars of the future may function like the smartphone. They will be connected to the internet while also sending out alerts about the weather and navigating to satisfy customer preferences.

Mileage and price points used to be determining factors for owning a car. Now it’s more to do with the joy of use, ease of use, safe driving, safety, connectivity and personalised experience. A combination of various technologies may help fulfil these modern mobility needs.

“The trend in the auto industry points to a world which is EACSY, short form for electrified, automated, connected, shared, yearly update,” said Latha Chembrakalam, head of Technical Centre India, Continental Automotive India, at the India Altair Technology Conference 2022. “Cars of the future will be like smartphones, as they will be connected to the internet while also providing updates. The number of sensors will increase as the thrust is on user experience and personalised tastes,”

Software could be the heart of mobility, and around 100 million lines of code could possibly be in the car. This is expected to go up to 300 million by 2030. Software constitutes 10 per cent of the value of the car, which is estimated to scale up to 20 per cent in the next one or two years. Besides software, technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) cloud computing, 5G, blockchain and internet of things (IoT), augmented reality (AR) virtual reality (VR) and data analytics will be other highlights.

Software and mixed tech are required because the vehicle is not just a means of transport. It will perform various functions. The vehicle will send out alerts on predictive maintenance and driver behaviour. Customised preferences will also be taken into account. For instance, if the passengers want to eat a pizza, the vehicle could buzz or even stop by while going past a pizza station. To meet customer expectations probably horizontal technology stacks may replace vertically integrated embedded systems. All this may be backed by AI-led data.

“AI could be a game changer in the mobility space. There could be a time when vehicle insurance can be priced based on the speed of driving. Probably people may pay less if they are cautious drivers, and pay more if they indulge in rash driving,” added Chembrakalam. Continental, a leading international automotive supplier, tyre manufacturer and industry partner, has expanded its R&D centre in India to meet the upcoming demand in the auto industry as well as electric vehicles (EVs).

The core engineering in electric vehicles is in the motor-related components. Digital twin could have a role to play in determining the health of EV batteries or the value chain that goes into its manufacturing. “Digital twin can be used in automobile. Digital twin may refer to a digital asset that agrees with the physical one. All this makes the digital twin data-rich, which creates the value asset of the EV. Simulation-driven design could be the future of auto. This may help in lowering physical prototyping costs,” explained Dr Royston Jones - executiveVP, European Operations and global CTO, Altair. The company provides software and cloud solutions in simulation, HPC (high performance computing) and AI.

“Our company began to invest in HPC in early 2000 as we saw potential in it. Around 2010, our investments went towards data analytics and AI as AI is important for simulation. Our focus is on engineering simulation and on driving design for simulation, along with mechatronic system integration and embedded software development,” highlighted Nelson Dias, chief revenue officer, Altair. All this is to increase efficiency and optimise connectivity. “AI-ML may be leveraged for creating data driven design models of auto products. This could be used to gauge the end-of-life for the engine of the vehicle. So it’s necessary to build systems by taking data and couple it with simulation,” observed Dias.

Going forward, auto makers may co-develop systems and products with OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), tool companies and start-ups. When it comes to autonomous vehicles (AVs) AI will be behind the wheel instead of the human. So then can we trust the car, its ability to steer ahead and navigate through terrains? When phone banking was introduced we wondered if it was safe or good enough. Only time will tell in the case of AVs.

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