Telematics is not just about providing a device or providing connectivity, but covers the entire ecosystem for multiple vehicle technologies
Telematics includes the provision of integration with local telcos, challenges in terms of downtime, installation support, and other requirements. The automotive telematics space is witnessing significant advancements. In a tete-a-tete with Auto Tech Review, Kiran AR, Technical Director, iTriangle Infotech, tells us how the company is bringing out innovations to address the industry needs.
One of the co-founders of iTriangle Infotech, Kiran AR is serving as its Technical Director since January 2009, the year the company was founded. Kiran specialises in areas of business development, design & development of embedded systems, and system software, among others. Prior to joining iTriangle Infotech, Kiran worked as a Senior Systems Engineer at Siemens Information Systems from March 2005 to December 2008. He holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Embedded System Designing from the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).
ATR _ Can you elaborate on the telematics market in India and iTriangle’s focus in this space?
Kiran AR _ The telematics industry is divided into commercial and personal space, with the former comprising trucks, buses and cabs. In the commercial space, the business of iTriangle is B2B, and in the case of personal, it is B2B2C. In the personal space, we offer solutions to component makers, who offer telematics solutions to end-customers.
Telematics should be divided in two time categories – before 2016 era and after 2016. In the Indian market, before 2018 or even before 2016 there was nothing such as personal vehicle telematics. There wasn’t much interest from end users of personal vehicles with regards to implementing such technologies. A large chunk of the company’s market share covered owners of trucks, buses, cab companies and distribution companies for fast-moving consumer goods.
However, the scenario has undergone a significant change over the last two to three years. We are talking about connected cars and use cases targeted towards individuals, using personal vehicle. A number of connected car apps have been launched in the market, where one can leverage mobile apps to know the vehicle status, understand diagnostics and can control certain vehicle actions. There has also been some level of OEM interest over the past few years with regards to telematics, which is where iTriangle has positioned itself. Surprisingly, telematics solutions have also attracted interest in the two-wheeler segment over the last couple of months, especially due to the electric vehicle (EV) push in India as well as globally. The challenges of operating EVs, especially range anxiety and availability of adequate charging stations, can be addressed through the application of telematics in a single app.
The market size for usage of telematics solutions for personal vehicle is growing, with the total equation now being changed. There is currently low knowledge on the real potential available to grow telematics solutions focussed towards the personal vehicle space.
Give us an understanding of your product offerings?
When iTriangle started its journey in 2009, we encountered a different set of challenges around telematics, since the market and the technology were very nascent. However, customers representing vehicle fleets evinced interest in this technology, but desired reliable solutions to address their workflow. iTriangle understood that most devices available in the market at that juncture were largely imported, with local players grappling with challenges in the form of support, availability and lead time. In order to address these problem areas, we developed our own hardware in India. Of course, we faced a plethora of challenges in developing this product, which served as an Indian alternative to global telematics solutions.
At present, iTriangle is trying to get into deeper integration with the vehicle and come up with further use cases. While telematics was initially solely concerned with basic parameters such as location, speed and distance, the company is now working with automotive OEMs and technology companies to carry out deeper integration of telematics with the vehicle. iTriangle is offering services such as diagnostics, prognostics and remote firmware updates. When an OEM faces problems concerning firmware of any system in the vehicle, the company usually issues recall of all affected vehicles to correct the issue. However, iTriangle offers solutions to its customers to avoid recalls, through the push of remote firmware over the air (OTA). This is carried out by using the iTriangle device as a gateway to receive the command, download the firmware and select the affected ECU to update the firmware.
iTriangle is also offering an end-to-end solution focussed on the EV market. We are providing the hardware, backend for storage and processing, complete telematics backend as well as the mobile apps. This is the entire portfolio of solutions that iTriangle is bundling together and offering as a completely integrated solution. Customers need to adapt this solution, integrate it with their vehicle and cloud, and finally go to the market. This offering reduces the go-to-market time for OEMs, which is important in the case of EVs, since it provides solutions to a number of issues faced by these types of vehicles.
Can give us a perspective about the autonomous vehicle space and iTriangle’s work in this area?
Autonomous driving is futuristic and is still at a development stage in most countries. The solutions for autonomous vehicle development are very complicated because there is a requirement to integrate computer vision, ADAS and sensors, and then build strong algorithms, along with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and this list goes on. It is exceedingly difficult for a single company to tick all the boxes related to autonomous driving, and that is what the current situation looks like.
The cost of current solutions related to vehicle autonomy is still not largely affordable, and so may only be applicable in high-end vehicle models. On the other hand, the philosophy of iTriangle has always been to take high-end technologies and bring them into an affordable space. The company has shaped its product development progress along these lines. Europeans are known for the best quality and Chinese for the best price, and iTriangle has tried to combine these two characteristics to bring in optimum solutions for the Indian market. We still believe the mass market utilisation of autonomous vehicle solution is yet to come in. However, the company is carrying out research of such systems from the purview of sensors integration for ADAS.
Enlighten us about the R&D focus and use of simulation.
The time-to-market and the quality targets of all product development are becoming tight. Over the last three-four years, we have already started adopting a lot of simulations. Earlier, we used to make a printed circuit board (PCB) and then put it to lab test to understand how it works. Now, we have begun using a lot of simulation tools, and adopt them in the early stage of development itself before making the first prototype. We subject our solutions to a substantial amount of analysis, and carry out signal integrity checks, power integrity tests and then electromagnetic interference and thermal analysis.
Of course, there will be some gaps between simulation and reality, but nowadays we are able to bridge that gap by around 95 %. Therefore, factors like radio frequency will be well simulated much before producing the product. In addition, we are also adopting technologies of 3D printing rapid prototyping for physical components in order to reduce the development cycle. The fact that the company is working on open platforms like Linux and Android to run the devices, also increases speed in terms of product development.
For testing purpose, the company leverages its own laboratories for carrying out basic tests internally. This is followed by regulatory tests conforming to automotive standards at centres like TUV, ARAI and ICAT. At all times, we strive to ensure that most of the standards are met before a product is launched.
TEXT: Naveen Arul
PHOTO: iTriangle Infotech