Five ways technology is transforming the automotive industry

As we speed ahead into 2023, many factors are converging to reshape the automotive industry. This year’s CES provided a glimpse into a new frontier where sensors enable autonomous vehicles to travel at speeds above 190 mph, battery breakthroughs power a rapid transition to electrification, and car cabins debut personal assistants versed in biometric recognition.

As the automotive sector welcomes new technologies, analysts predict soon-to-come changes “not seen since the Model T Ford rolled into the production line in the early 1900s,” according to market research firm McKinsey. Traditional original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and start-ups have invested more than $280 billion in innovative software and hardware solutions since 2010, said McKinsey. In turn, OEMs and component suppliers have outperformed companies in other booming sectors, like high tech and chemicals—and as many analysts predict, the best is yet to come.

That said, while today’s path toward automotive innovation is expected to lead to an awe-inspiring future, it is certainly not rid of obstacles, detours, and gaps. That’s why, at Keysight, we recently unveiled a new video series called Auto Tech Talk, where we address tough development and test challenges to help guide automotive engineers, manufacturers, and business leaders on their own journeys of innovation.

In 15 minutes or less, these Auto Tech Talk Q&A videos uncover new ways technology is transforming the automotive industry from behind the scenes. Here are five interesting trends worth highlighting.

1. Electrification is gaining momentum

“The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) is the most immediate trend in the industry,” said Ken Horne, a strategic planner for automotive and energy solutions at Keysight Technologies. In about eight to 10 years, all cars will be EVs in some regions, he explained.

Indeed, electric vehicles passed 10% of global vehicle sales in 2022 and are on track to reach 30% by the end of the decade, according to the International Energy Agency.

The transition away from internal combustion engine technology to the electric vehicle is a huge cultural change, Horne said. Engineers are working quickly to advance new development and test tools for battery and cell technologies. Considerable work is going into battery technology improvement to hopefully increase consumer interest in EVs. This includes everything from battery packaging to the chemistry of the cells and charging performance. “Measure  is a huge part of this,” Horne said.

2. EV battery development is booming

The EV market is driving a boom in EV battery development and manufacturing. Given time and cost pressures, battery developers are meeting market challenges by focusing on the size of the battery test lab, speed of testing, and total cost of ownership. Thanks to government funding this year, we can also expect new battery chemistries and a manufacturing boost.

3. Automating the modern battery test lab is key

Battery cost is a critical factor in making EVs more affordable, and this means an efficient workflow is more important than ever. The secret ingredient is automation. With a well-synched orchestra of automation, battery developers can then focus on improving battery quality at the cell, module, and pack levels.

4. Artificial intelligence is powering autonomous driving

Artificial intelligence is powering autonomous driving - thanks to tons of data, gathered through millions of miles of tests both on the road and simulated in the lab, which consider countless scenarios and corner cases. Dive even deeper, and a multitude of sensors - cameras, radar, Lidar, and more - are capturing all this data and providing a 360-degree view into autonomous driving functionalities.

That said, full autonomy on open roads has proven to be difficult to implement, and analysts now predict we won’t see this technology widely adopted until 2030 or 2035, Horne explained.

5. Safety is at the forefront of AV innovation

Autonomous vehicles must prove to be safer than a human driver, and this in turn demands countless miles of testing both on the road and in the lab. Many scenarios and corner cases simply cannot be tested on the road because there are too many unpredictable factors to deal with. Automakers are increasingly turning to the lab to test through emulation.

While automakers leverage advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) with camera, radar, and lidar to enable safer and improved driving experiences, in-vehicles networks are being improved to meet the demand for faster speeds and greater bandwidth.

Indeed, automotive innovation is kicking into high gear. As a result, automakers are navigating a new course for development and test challenges. By keeping these five trends in mind, automakers can traverse challenges as they build a future of limitless potential for electric vehicles and self-driving cars.

Further resources

In 15 minutes or less, these Auto Tech Talk Q&A videos uncover new ways technology is transforming the automotive industry from behind the scenes. White papers or e-books for each episode are also available.

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