The car has been around for about 100 years, give or take. And during that time the process for developing the car has remained largely unchanged. And while that process has accommodated countless innovations over the years, it has run its course. As automakers integrate ever more sophisticated technology into the car, a new approach is needed.
The short answer is software. The car is fast becoming a sophisticated computing system on wheels, taking automakers into new fields and disciplines more in line with the development of consumer electronics than vehicles. Infotainment, things like email, Facebook, and streaming music, are just the beginning. And the systems and methods relied on to enable that functionality are simply not equipped to support the technology that is just down the road.
The need for greater computing power
The next generation of vehicles will require much greater computing power to meet growing demands for safety and convenience. Failure to keep pace could cost automakers dearly in today’s shrinking marketplace. In its earliest years, cars relied on a single computer. There was little complexity. Today, virtually every function in the car relies on its own computer with its own software, creating a decentralized environment.
To maintain the necessary innovation velocity, automakers must return to a more centralized approach that is based on a new development process, an evolved supply chain, a common language, and greater interoperability.
Look to the computing industry
Automakers must learn from the computing industry, and they must do it quickly. As inroads like computer-assisted safety and autonomous capabilities move to the forefront, the very nature of the car and its supply chain must be revised. Collaboration will be key.
There is no time to drag one’s feet. Consider the recent mandate from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requiring rearview cameras in all vehicles under 10,000 pounds by May 2018. Such advancements, once thought of as market differentiators, are becoming commodities. In addition to mandates, automakers now have to meet ISO 26262 certification, an even more daunting task if tackled one-by-one. It’s a good time to plan for more compute intensive safety features.
What is the auto industry doing to adapt?
- They have flipped the 70/30 hardware-to-software ratio. Today, 70 percent of a modern infotainment system is driven by software, with 30 percent dedicated to hardware and architecture. That means increased scalability and flexibility.
- They are working with new partners and current partners in new ways. The entire supply chain is evolving and those who embrace the change and lead the change will be most successful.
What is Intel’s role?
Intel knows a little something about manufacturing efficiency, and how fast the consumer electronics industry moves. In addition, Intel is investing across automotive engineering capabilities, ecosystem alignment, and research to help the industry transform the car ownership experience.
As the industry quickly moves to incorporate more advanced driving technologies into the car, both the automotive and technology industries must think differently, collaborate more, and embrace new ways of doing business.
This week I’ll be at the Autotech Councils’ Autonomous Vehicle event as part of the panel called “Under the Hood” on April 11th, 10:35 AM. Let me know if you will be there and connect with me on Twitter: @Intel_Joel.