Software and data are transforming the automotive industry as we traditionally know it – breaking down barriers in and out of the vehicle through the deployment of cutting-edge technologies. Rodrigo Maia, Executive Board Member at Capgemini Engineering Portugal, shifts you into the not-so-distant future paradigm of vehicles – the Software-Defined Vehicles (SDV) – with an approach focused on the challenges of an emerging automotive ecosystem.
Software and data define everything nowadays. We see software and data overcome hardware as an innovation driver for vehicles, taking the center stage of new automobile design. Together, they define new functionalities and interact with physical systems and other remote systems. However, the most significant change concerns the hardware no longer driving the function but becoming a part of the software and data platform. Let’s take a closer look at emerging key trends to get a behind-the-scenes vantage point.
Electrifying the fleet
First, there is the drive for electrification. Climate change is an apparent reality. Worldwide, many countries have committed to becoming carbon-neutral will impose bans on internal combustion engines (ICE) as early as 2030 and on hybrids by 2035. As a result, many automakers are committed to selling only zero-emission vehicles in the next decade, with General Motors being one of the latest examples.
Another major trend is shared mobility that enables traffic reduction and meets the mobility demands of ever-growing cities. Automation will bring safety to the roads and counteract the number of traffic-related fatalities. It will also boost productivity and make driving time more usable. Finally, connected vehicles will increase the convenience and safety of road trips and optimize traffic flow.
What do these trends have in common?
They are powered by software and data. This raises new challenges related to the safety and security of the drivers due to an increased number of vehicle functions and ways of interacting both with the vehicle and others on the road system. However, it won’t slow down the adoption of software and data in the vehicle.
Vehicles thus become much more digital through the deployment of cutting-edge technologies such as Edge Computing, Cloud, and AI. This enables building and delivering customer-centric solutions that make for a safer and more personalized ride.
Digitalization is progressively changing our vision of vehicles and the way they are used. Undoubtedly, vehicles will become our “third place” and transform time wasted into time well spent.
Challenges for the new automotive paradigm
For the new automotive paradigm to become a reality, some challenges need to be addressed:
- Stay one step ahead of the virtual assistants – in the future, the automotive industry may have to compete with Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant in the battle to make vehicles livable one. Adequate integration will be one of the more prominent challenges that SDV will have to tackle.
- Overcome obstacles by upgrading and updating – With the adoption of shorter development cycles and the continuous update or upgrade of vehicle functions, software will expand the adaptability and longevity of cars by constantly updating the current systems in operation. Adapting to a DevOps approach is a necessity for the industry.
- Transition from lone shark to shark tank – established industry players that used to own the value chain face the challenge of no longer being the only “shark” in the tank. New entrants (such as Tesla); tech giants (GAFA and its Chinese counterparts) are jumping into the mobility market. Further, Telco operators intend to use 5G and V2X solutions to create new revenue streams. Moreover, silicon vendors provide the technology for the electronics deployed in the vehicles of the future. Therefore, the incumbents must decide whether they want to compete, collaborate, or master the software and data platforms that comprise the new vehicle backbone. “Software sharks” are positioning themselves to lead the development of this backbone (e.g., Android Automotive). In other words, whomever (still) wants to rule the tank needs to quickly realize the importance of developing their software and data ecosystem.
- Create a balance between digital demand and capacity – Technology evolution is driving massive demand for the next generation of software and data solutions that the industry cannot currently deliver. The productivity and efficiency of the Automotive sector are well below the level of demand in this area.
How can organizations remain relevant?
Here’s how. The industry needs to increase its availability of skilled resources, building curricula themselves or through course co-creation with academies and universities. For instance, it needs to find better ways to manage processes, efficiency, and productivity, in a much more agile and more DevOps-oriented way. Also, it must improve access to knowledge and innovation.
In all cases, partnerships are essential. They can be set up through joint ventures between manufacturers, software companies, and research centers to accelerate technology adoption. A good example is Vortex- CoLab, a collaborative laboratory created in cooperation with three universities dedicated to applied research within this exciting, rapidly evolving area.
Running on software
We see a significant shift in the automotive industry in the way vehicles are designed and delivered. Vehicles went from being mainly hardware based to being a software and data platform on wheels. In the new automotive paradigm, software and data will account for 90 percent of future innovations for vehicles, which is led by industry leader Volkswagen.
The key to success lies in adapting and being resilient, continuously updating and upgrading the vehicle with software, data, and AI features. This is how you can retain a competitive advantage and gain a privileged and unique position in the continually changing waters of the Automotive shark tank.
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- Innovate with software and data: It brings a new paradigm – the Software-Defined Vehicle – and a set of unique challenges for every player in the Automotive ecosystem.
- The vehicle is our third place: Use cutting-edge technologies, like AI, Edge Computing, and the Cloud to develop customer-centric solutions for vehicles that can feel like home or work.
- Adapt to the shark tank: Adapt rapidly while staying resilient, continuously updating, and upgrading vehicles, leveraging the full potential of software and data as it evolves. Indeed, there are ways to rule the shark tank.
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Rodrigo Maia is currently Group Vice President and Executive Board Member of Capgemini Engineering in Portugal with the responsibilities of R&I, Engineering Practices and Strategic Investments. He is also the CEO of Vortex-CoLab, a joint venture devoted to Applied Research on Cyber-physical Systems and Cybersecurity.