The automotive industry is heading towards being connected and autonomous, and companies are striving to ensure timely deployment of these technologies in the market. Sasken Technologies is one such company that provides required back-end support to suppliers and OEMs to develop systems that enable a connected drive, thus easing the effort of the driver. Auto Tech Review met up with Ashwin Ramachandra, Vice-President and Head, Product Engineering Services, Sasken Technologies Ltd, to know about the importance of Android in automotive infotainment, technologies supporting autonomy, cockpit digitalisation and semiconductor manufacturers.
The rapid progress of automotive technologies, in terms of infotainment systems convinces the company that Android penetration into these systems is going to be very high. Ramachandra said that Tier 1s and OEMs are increasingly adopting Android and such a scenario stands the company in good stead as it has been working on Android technologies from inception, although it began with the mobile industry. As far as usage of Android in the automotive sector is concerned, Sasken is one of the first companies to provide adaptation of Android-powered in-vehicle infotainment with a major US truck manufacturer for the purpose of logistics as well as route and driver management, with focus on enterprise rather than infotainment. This move makes Sasken bullish about the proliferation of Android in cars. Additionally, the company’s partnerships with semiconductor manufacturers has grown, and this is essential since the hardware for Android in the vehicle will be supported by these companies, Ramachandra observed. The company’s 11-year Android experience coupled with its early entry with Android into the automotive space differentiates Sasken from other industry players, Ramachandra said.
COCKPIT DIGITALISATION, HYPERVISOR
Sasken is excited about autonomous driving systems, for which tying up with the cockpit is important, Ramachandra stated. Clusters are increasingly becoming digital, primarily to facilitate the type of information required for autonomous vehicles. Digital transformation of instrument clusters enables customised availability of information. They can dynamically change the real estate of the cluster concerning display of relevant information, he added.
Ramachandra said that clusters are going to be important for the company, but due to their real-time nature, Android penetration will not be seen for now. However, the industry is witnessing another exciting upcoming trend of hypervising, where one platform carries out cluster duties, while another works on the infotainment. At present, the processors and hardware to perform the hypervisor process are reasonably powerful, where one hardware platform can run both infotainment and clusters. Ramachandra believes that the number of vehicles with hypervised solutions would be at about 25 % of the market in the coming three to five years.
Sasken breaks down autonomous driving into two categories – internal and cooperative. The internal is the traditional part, where the vehicle uses tools such as camera, radar or laser to take independent decisions based on the feedback received about the surroundings. Cooperative covers decision-making in conjunction with other vehicles, pedestrians or infrastructure (V2V, V2X). Sasken believes that the autonomy quality would be improved with the latter.
The company has invested in the cooperative form of autonomous driving, where cooperation is used as a means of improving safety and reaching autonomy faster. There are two technologies that support such cooperation – Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) and Cellular V2X (CV2X), noted Ramachandra. These are two competing standards that achieve the same end of communication with external entities. These are drastically-different means of technologies – DSRC is Wi-Fi-based, while CV2X is a cellular-based technology.
Both these technologies have varying traction levels across the globe and are at varying levels of evolution of their respective technologies. However, Sasken has invested more in the CV2X technology. In fact, OEMs are currently conducting early trials of CV2X and DSRC. Sasken is excited about its involvement in the early evolution of these technologies, which could mature in a couple of years. However, such technologies will be able to prove their mettle only when a larger part of the industry begins to adopt these cooperative autonomous technologies, Ramachandra noted.
All these new technologies (whether for infotainment or autonomy), will need a massive scale of testing in order to gain industry acceptance. Ramachandra said this is a huge opportunity for Sasken as it is investing heavily for the purpose of providing validation systems. The company’s R&D work is largely focused on the Android trends, autonomous driving, along with testing and validation of all these systems.
Given the current high connectivity scenario, employing right data security mechanisms is crucial, said Ramachandra. With the growth in connected technologies, a large amount of information is being created and shared and this data could be used for good or malicious purposes. So it is crucial to look at isolating the vehicle from the world to an appropriate extent, he noted.
The cooperative nature of connectivity plays a vital role in the smooth journey of future mobility. Sasken is leveraging various technologies to enable further security, with the Blockchain software platform being one of them, noted Ramachandra. This also underlines the need for robust validation and testing at the development stage for secure data collection for further analysis, Ramachandra concluded.
TEXT: Naveen Arul