The American Electronic Engineering Times (EETimes) recently conducted interviews with some well-known chip manufacturers that provide technical support to auto companies, and summarized 7 technological trends that the auto industry will usher in 2014.
Nowadays, automakers are in a situation where they are under attack. On the one hand, while constantly pursuing new automotive technologies (connected cars, advanced driving assistance, etc.), they need to meet regional regulations (carbon emission regulations, fuel efficiency regulations); on the other hand, traditional car companies have to face Google, Innovative technology companies such as Cisco and Tesla.
The Electronic Engineering Times (EETimes) recently conducted interviews with some well-known chip manufacturers that provide technical support to car companies. The topics are mainly around the 7 technical challenges that the automotive industry will face in 2014 and in the future.
1, cars will be softwareized
For the main carrier center console and instrument panel of in-vehicle information technology*, automobile OEMs used to spend a lot of time designing and manufacturing prototypes. Now, although car companies are still constantly improving their car technology, the process has become more electronic. Using special software, designers can modify the configuration of user interactive graphical interfaces, dashboards, and entertainment information displays in a relatively short period of time.
Nvidia Automotive Automation Director Danny Shapiro said: Software implantation in cars not only changes the design model, but also changes the behavior of users in the car.
A recent global consumer survey conducted by the American Accenture Consulting Company pointed out that when consumers buy a car, the attractiveness of the in-car technology configuration is twice that of the vehicle’s performance. Many car companies’ next-generation new cars will be equipped with in-vehicle systems that are more compatible with iOS and Android systems as standard. The competition between these two systems on the vehicle platform will reach a new climax in 2014.
So are automakers watching technology companies invade cars, or do they join the trend? Different car companies have different choices, and perhaps many car companies will release software designer recruitment information next year. Others will also look for what they think is the best solution to apply smart phones to the car in the entertainment information system.
2. The choice of the bottom platform of the semi-autonomous driving system
Nissan and Daimler announced this year that they will launch self-driving cars in 2020. Similarly, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, and Volvo have related goals. Next year is also a key year for determining the underlying platform of semi-autonomous vehicles. The construction of the underlying platform will directly affect the design of later fully autonomous vehicles.
There are still people, and even most people still think that the realization of autonomous driving in 2020 is a fantasy. However, many car companies are already using practical actions to prove that all this is not just a dream.
In order to achieve their 2020 goals, car companies must produce real cars in 2017, because a lot of road tests will be required in the next time.
As the basis of autonomous driving, the research and development of driver assistance systems is also the direction that various car companies are currently working on. Its main functions include lane departure warning, adaptive cruise, collision avoidance system and automatic parking. A vehicle equipped with advanced driver assistance systems can be called semi-automatic because the driver is still the main vehicle operator.
For those manufacturers who propose to launch autonomous vehicles in 2020, the underlying platform design of the semi-autonomous driving platform must be determined in the second half of 2014, otherwise the above goals will not be achieved at all.
3, car software/hardware upgrade
Generally speaking, because the life cycle of a car and the electronic system on it are not at the same frequency, the update of on-board software/hardware has always been a very tangled issue. However, this problem may be resolved.
NVIDIA Automation Business Director Danny Shapiro said that the design cycle of automation products is shortening. Its Tegra2 or Tegra3 chip allows automakers to easily upgrade in-car software and applications.
Tesla has adopted a wireless software update method in ModelS. Audi has also adopted similar technology to further expand the map view from Google Earth’s satellite imagery through software updates.
In-car hardware systems are becoming modular, and it is easier for automakers to upgrade hardware. In the future, consumers may only need to replace an outdated engine ECU control system to increase vehicle horsepower. Although this vision will not be realized in the near future, in theory, replacing the car software in the future is as simple as adding a memory stick to the computer now.
4. Information Security
Car hackers don’t just appear in movies. In theory, there are loopholes in the information sent to the driver by any in-car entertainment information system or dashboard.
In 2011, a research team from the University of California San Diego and the University of Washington demonstrated intercepting information codes and tampering with them to achieve the purpose of controlling vehicles. They also wrote a paper called Comprehensive Experimental Analysis of Car Information Intrusion. In the paper, the researcher demonstrated how to remotely control the braking system of a vehicle. It means that if the bridge mode of the ECU can be destroyed, then the brake system can be controlled through wireless signals.
This year, this topic has been hotly discussed again. Two car safety experts Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek demonstrated how to invade the vehicle ECU network. As the car’s connection with the outside world becomes closer, more attention must be paid to the issue of car information security.
5, V2V technology practical
Advanced driver assistance system is undoubtedly one of the hottest automotive topics in 2013. Although the adoption rate of driving assistance systems is getting higher and higher, the penetration rate of the V2V/V2I system that matches it seems insufficient.
*The main reason lies in the imperfection of relevant laws and regulations. Professionals point out that it takes 15-20 years for such laws and regulations to be specified and perfected. If the advanced driver assistance system is regarded as a stand-alone system, then V2V is a networked system. Drue Freeman, vice president of global automotive markets at NXP Semiconductors, said that only when these two types of systems work together can it be possible to significantly reduce accident rates and improve traffic efficiency. Indeed, there is a partial overlap of functions between the driving assistance system and the V2X system. However, V2X technology can distinguish the relative positions between cars and between cars and base stations. Freeman also pointed out that V2X can let drivers know the road information in advance, so that the view at the intersection becomes wider.
Europe has built an intelligent transportation center called ITSCorridor, located between the Netherlands, Germany and Austria. Vehicles using the 802.11p communication protocol can benefit from it and experience the true V2V technology. For those vehicles that are not yet equipped with a V2V system, ITSCorridor has no effect on it. However, Freeman said that as the V2V system’s adoption rate increases in the future, more and more vehicles will join the interconnected team.
However, in the United States, there are still obstacles to the promotion of V2V technology. The US Road Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA has not made any measures on how to promote short-range communication (DSRC) technology.
6. Lightweight cars
Lightweight is also a type of technology that has been continuously explored in the automotive industry in recent years. Nowadays, lightweight and high-efficiency designs are emerging, such as Renault Twizy, Toyota FT-Bh, GM ultralight, Volkswagen XL-1 and Audi urbanconcept. In addition, today’s electric vehicles have been criticized for lack of cruising range. With the help of the lightweight technology of the body and battery, it can extend the mileage of electric vehicles and become a truly energy-saving and environmentally-friendly model.
Edison2’s VLC ultra-lightweight car has a fuel equivalent of 104 mpge per 100 kilometers. Its body drag coefficient is only 0.16, and it can maintain a high-speed cruising speed of 97 km/h with a power of 4 kilowatts. This car won a $5 million design award from the XPRIZE competition in the United States.
7. Decrease in the number of drivers
According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, the number of drivers in the 16-39 age group in the U.S. has dropped significantly in recent years. This is not a good thing for the automotive industry.
Automobile manufacturers are making every effort to develop in-vehicle connection technology. While aiming to enhance vehicle safety, it is also to a large extent to cater to young drivers who love electronic technology.
Professionals pointed out that the future transportation trend will be diversified transportation, that is, people travel not only by private cars, but by more types of public transportation, such as bicycles. Car leasing will also become a trend, and even a certain commercial area or downtown area will adopt a ferry fleet equipped with an intelligent connection system in the future to achieve a more convenient transportation mode.
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