CASE demands more dedicated software development and code-driven systems in modern vehicles: KPIT Technologies

Advanced technologies are making us all more competitive. Today, we are hearing, and even seeing connected cars. Automotive electrification today drives the use of design IP. Future mobility is getting enabled by sensorization. Also, there is software innovation driving automobiles. There are many such trends happening.

Here, Anup Sable, CTO at KPIT Technologies, tells us more. Excerpts from an interview:

DQ: How has the experience of software innovation been with automobiles?

Anup Sable: Traditionally, automobiles have been mechanical. Over the past 40 years or so, we have seen the gradual introduction of software and electronics technologies that have enabled new features and functions e.g., power windows, antilock braking systems, climate control, etc. Today, the automobile is effectively ‘software on wheels.’

The industry megatrends of Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric or CASE, demand more dedicated software development and code-driven systems in modern next-generation vehicles. A modern car will have more than 150 million lines of code and the next generation autonomous electric vehicles can have approximately 500 million lines of code. The software sits inside several powerful electronic control units or advanced chipsets where all the processing and computation take place.

Software technology is helping vehicle manufacturers create differentiated products and is also driving innovation. As the role of software and electronics increases in the development of vehicles, so does the complexity. Vehicle manufacturers must now develop deep software competence and electronic capabilities to build next-generation vehicles.

DQ: How are cloud services being incorporated/ adopted by the automotive and mobility industry?

Anup Sable: The benefits of cloud technology in the automotive companies are well known for providing reliable and scalable vehicles and speeding up time to market. The automotive companies are leveraging modern cloud services to create a comprehensive software development methodology—all of which is directly linked with the increased connectivity in the vehicles. Cloud-enabled software management is beneficial for the vehicle lifecycle and is the backbone of connected vehicles to enable new features and user experience. It is beneficial for the following reasons:

  • Internal system development
  • External application lifecycles, and
  • Extended life of the vehicles.

This way, the potential of a car gets better, where performance, safety and comfort can be fixed or upgraded through such cloud-based software updates. These benefits are needed now more than ever. Cloud infrastructure today has enabled a two-way connection for the vehicles, where original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can access almost all vehicles, including the non-connected vehicles.

Moreover, cloud technologies are not only helpful for the vehicle software integration, but they are also helpful to manage the quantum of data that is generated in such processes. Data is further stored in various cloud-based applications and when needed, the OEMs can leverage this cloud infrastructure to process, validate, manage the data, and make it available for the engineers across the globe.

DQ: How is the connected vehicle market evolving across India?

Anup Sable: In India, the connected vehicle is still in its nascent stage. OEMs are ramping up their capabilities to improve connectivity in the cars. Currently, only a few brands have introduced connected cars in India, but it is likely to grow in the coming years. The vehicle with the Connected Car Technology comes loaded with smart features and consumer benefits like advanced navigation systems, safety and security features and infotainment/entertainment services on the go.

Users can experience dedicated EV features, remote commands, and location-based services. They can find the nearest charging stations and service stations, use the safety and security functions, alert services and driver monitoring features. Moreover, the next gen 5G connectivity will improve the technology and connected vehicles will be even smarter and smoother to use.

As per Deloitte’s report on connected cars, the Indian connected car market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 22.2 per cent during the forecast period, to reach USD 32.5 billion by 2025 from an estimated USD 9.8 billion in 2019. India’s share of connected vehicles is expected to grow as connected vehicles technology becomes more accessible.

DQ: When you say that integration of technology into vehicles is the future of the industry, what integration are we talking about?

Anup Sable: Software integration is a complex area for the OEMs and suppliers. Currently, the industry is going through a significant shift of enabling Centralized Computing Architecture or developing the brain of the car, where most of the software computing process will be centralized or integrated into a particular chipset inside the vehicle. It will help to enable vehicle functions, including safety, convenience, connectivity, security and driving performance to be upgraded Over-The-Air (OTA) software updates.

After this shift, all the functionalities of the car will be integrated to a centralised chip or a ‘supercomputer,’ which will have higher processing power and the car will also operate with a higher speed of network, supported by Ethernet.

DQ: How complex is it to develop vehicle software today?

Anup Sable: Software innovation in the automotive industry is always a critical point for the manufacturers, especially with the growth of software complexity for automotive features. As OEMs, suppliers, and new players across the industry hope to capture critical control points in this new, software-driven value chain, it is more important for the companies to focus on efficiency, security, and safety of the customers.

Automakers that lack sufficient software capabilities may face risks, which could lead to recalls or safety issues like cyber security attacks. Since the overall level of software innovation will not decline, companies must also increase their software-development and maintenance output to deliver the offerings currently required to be successful in the market.

DQ: How is software written, tested, and deployed in vehicles?

Anup Sable: First, the complex software architecture is created for the given feature or function that is to be achieved and it is modular so that changes can be incorporated in the future. There are different pieces of code written pieces and integrated in high-performance computers. The software development follows the Agile format, where testing and validation is a continuous process in every step of development.

Another trend observed here is virtualisation. Earlier, code used to be written, then flashed on the hardware (ECU) of the vehicle and then tested Now, with the process of virtualisation, a virtual environment is created where the hardware is emulated, the code is tested without the actual physical hardware (ECU). KPIT has developed numerous solutions and accelerators in this domain of virtualisation which saves a lot of time, and the features can be tested and approved even before putting them in the physical hardware.

DQ: What are the key technologies and trends shaping the automotive industry?

Anup Sable: With the rise in digitization, increasing automation and new business models, automotive incumbents are making strategic moves to shape the industry’s evolution. Incumbent players are implementing a strategic approach towards the industry challenges to get ahead of the inevitable disruption.

Architecture shift – With the introduction of high-performance computers or super computers, complex architecture is being solved with a single software integration. Such architectural shifts are transforming every aspect of the software capabilities in the automotive industry.

Enabling of cloud services – The automotive industry is a leader in leveraging cloud computing services to solve problems. It is changing the industry in every aspect, from using applications, data, and computing services to manage information, communication, and computing. The other aspect of using platforms, such as Internet-based apps and online digital services, is to manage car features and data. The introduction of AI, ML, and data analytics to manage certain car features and data helps to enhance the reliability of the software solution integrated in the vehicle.

Digital Twin – The process of virtualization has a tremendous impact on the automotive industry. With this process, a digital twin of the vehicles can be created with the help of cloud and augmented reality. It helps in software integration processes and in staying connected with automation, even after the vehicles are sold.

Software-defined Vehicles (SDV) – Focusing on the software-oriented solutions, future vehicles will be highly mechatronic intelligent devices and will come loaded with features and new functioning.

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