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The future of software defined vehicles in India

By Darshan Shetty, Head of Business Area, Architecture and Networking, Continental Automotive India,

Added 13 May 2024

The article explores the potential and future of ‘software-defined vehicles in India', investigating the evolution of software-driven mobility, the integration of sophisticated technology, and its growing impact on the Indian automotive industry.

Cars are undergoing a radical transformation, with software becoming the lifeblood of the industry. Today, the amount of software content in vehicles is increasing rapidly, and it is expected to rise significantly in the coming years. This trend is driving the development of software-defined vehicles (SDVs), which leverage sophisticated software algorithms to manage and coordinate vehicle functions. SDVs are packed with sensors, cameras, and radar (up to 100 million lines of code currently, projected to reach 300 million by 2030), acting as data-gathering hubs that perceive their surroundings and make informed decisions. Through powerful AI and machine learning, SDVs can analyse complex situations, predict potential obstacles, and navigate with unprecedented autonomy. These "computers on wheels" are fundamentally changing the driving experience, with connectivity, performance, digital displays, advanced safety features, and improved Human-Machine Interfaces (HMI) becoming standard.

EVOLUTION OF SOFTWARE-DRIVEN MOBILITY

SDVs emerged from the merging of advancements in computing, robotics, and automotive engineering. Early experiments in autonomous vehicle technology focused on developing basic navigation systems and control algorithms, enabling vehicles to follow predefined paths or react to simple commands. With the swift progress in computing power, sensor technology and AI algorithms, the true potential of SDVs began in the current century. Advancements in machine learning, deep learning, and neural networks enabled vehicles to infer complex sensory data, identify patterns, and make autonomous decisions in unpredictable environments.

TECHNOLOGY: AS A KEY PLAYER

The sophisticated range of technologies in SDV enhances safety, connectivity, and efficiency on the road. Today, cars are electro-mechanical units. The new age is marked by complex software-based ecosystems that integrate intricate algorithms to enable data analysis, road navigation, and communication with other vehicles and infrastructure elements. It also offers extraordinary adaptability, flexibility, and scalability, with continuous updates over time. AI algorithms allow SDVs to infer sensory data, recognise patterns and make informed decisions, whereas ML algorithms support continuous improvement and adaptation. Computer vision systems allow SDVs to recognise and interpret their environment, and sensor fusion technologies allow data integration from multiple sensors for enhanced awareness of situations. From advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) to autonomous driving capabilities and infotainment systems to vehicle to-everything (V2X) communication, SDVs bring together numerous advanced technologies.

IMPACT ON INDIAN AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY

The automotive market is evolving fast in India. Even though the penetration level of SDVs is comparatively low when you look at other countries, today, consumer demands are changing. The demand for more intelligent and connected vehicles is on the rise, as it promises unparalleled advancements in safety, connectivity, and overall driving convenience. India, as an automotive hub, is preparing for a gradual but revolutionary transformation. Vehicles of today can personalise and enhance the driving experience, acting as an extension of one's home. The future of mobility envisions cars seamlessly communicating with each other and the cloud, thus, enhancing overall intelligence with AI and prioritising experiences over raw power.

Vehicles offering unique and tailored experiences have given rise to specialised computing power (HPC) that can enable cloud services and functions on demand quickly and with increased complexity - ushering in a new era of personalised, connected, and intelligent mobility experiences.

Regulatory challenges and infrastructure limits including road conditions, traffic and network issues hinder the smooth deployment of SDVs in India even today. Culturally, uncertainty among consumers accustomed to traditional ways can arise. Safety, trust, and privacy fears could also affect consumer outlooks.

Regardless of challenges, smartphone adoption, high-speed internet (4G and upcoming 5G networks) connectivity and the growing Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem are some key drivers that could accelerate SDVs. Also, the widespread smartphone adoption among Indians provides a platform for integrating connected vehicle technologies.

ADVANTAGES

SDV connectivity enables adaptability through continuous OTA software updates and enables automotive manufacturers to install new features, fix bugs and smoothly offer security improvements. Real-time communication and data exchange between vehicles, infrastructure and the cloud are also possible. IoT technologies also make it possible for SDVs to improve route planning, safety features and driving efficiency.

SDVs can detect the environment, foresee hidden dangers, and make quick decisions to avoid crashes. They react faster and more efficiently than humans as they are continuously monitoring road conditions and detecting potential threats without getting tired/ distracted.

SDVs can also transform vehicle ownership and mobility services in India. With their advanced technology and connectivity, SDVs can introduce new models that transform how people perceive and access transportation. In India, where congestion and parking space are common challenges, shared mobility solutions powered by SDV offer suitable substitutes for car ownership. With the rise of ride-sharing platforms, EVs, and mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) models, SDVs will play a crucial role in shaping urban transportation by reducing congestion and environmental impact. Through ride-hailing and car-sharing platforms, individuals can access SDVs on-demand, cutting the need for private vehicle ownership in congested regions. In MaaS, users pay for transportation services based on usage rather than owning a vehicle.

By optimising route planning, reducing congestion and promoting eco-friendly driving behaviours, SDVs can help ease the environmental impact of vehicles and improve air quality in cities. They assimilate with public transit systems and offer smooth multimodal transportation options that encourage people to embrace sustainable travel.

CONCLUSION

Currently, automotive technology giants are investing deeply in the research and development of SDVs, and Continental is no exception. While challenges remain, the potential of SDVs to transform mobility is irrefutable. The future of SDVs in India promises exponential growth and innovation. With the potential to redefine the automotive landscape, SDVs offer exceptional efficiency, safety, and ease. As India embraces the future of mobility, SDVs will play a vital role in shaping the transportation landscape in the future. We at Continental, are excited to be part of this journey and look forward to spearheading the journey towards a smarter and more sustainable future of mobility.

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