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2017 Predictions for the connected car - What to look out for? - Part 2

In the first part of this blog here, I outlined the framework that was used to arrive at the predictions specifically the three phases (Incubate, Develop, Implement) and two different perspectives (Producer, Consumer).

Let me now explain each of the trends, and why they fit into the particular phase. Since there are 19 of them, I've kept the commentary minimal. For each of them, we will look at - what is the trend, why do I think it's in a particular phase and what is the impact. 

Let me now explain each of the trends, and why they fit into the particular phase. Since there are 19 of them, I've kept the commentary minimal. For each of them, we will look at - what is the trend, why do I think it's in a particular phase and what is the impact. 

i. Incubate

The trends in concept phase are ones that are on the drawing board, lots of white boarding, initial prototypes, analyzing the market and making sure they are relevant to the consumer, auto OEMs and other stakeholders in the value chain. Incubation is about nurturing the technology and helping it on it's way to research and realization 

  1. Modular and adaptable design: Borrowing from the software world, cars of the future will be modular, scalable, and adaptable to new features and technologies. The notion of a car being an unchangeable piece of equipment for the ownership duration will be challenged. While the software in the car is fast embracing the trend, there are other vehicle components which need to evolve. The impact on the customer will be significant since they can keep pace with the technology, lifestyle and demographic changes. The value chain players will have to significantly change their product development lifecycle to create such products

  2. Integrated digital experience: Weaving the car contextually into the customer's digital lifestyle by integrating various digital endpoints into a harmonious journey. The experience is moving towards intelligent and invisible computing based on location, context, behavioral learning and such. While there are prototypes that can be seen at auto shows, conferences a truly integrated experience is still being worked out given that the rest of jigsaw pieces are maturing (smart home, smart community, smart parking et al). The customer will start expecting the experience as hygiene given the digital explosion in their worlds. For the value chain players this will be uncharted territory since their exposure has been limited to components thus far

  3. Monetization: Interestingly, monetizing the connected vehicle services has been a topic widely discussed over the last few years, however there is no silver bullet. I believe there will be conversations around extending to other businesses (such as insurance), and partnership models that will evolve. Do the connected vehicle services subscriptions pay for themselves? I am not sure. Like in the telecom world, the impact will be encouraging for the customers since the auto OEMs can subsidize some of the services. For the value chain players, figuring out the monetization rules is absolutely crucial for long term sustainability

  4. Digital vehicle/twin: This is my personal favorite, eventually there will be a digital vehicle and customer i.e. a 1 to 1 model of the car and driver that is continuously fed field data. Imagine the impact of maintaining a live model that mirrors the on road usage and level of personalization that can be achieved. The concept itself is in a very nascent stage and is discussed in the industrial sector. The impact of digital twins is going to be immense for the consumer and producers given the precision with which many operations can be performed

  5. Machine Learning: Learning and adapting based on the customer's behavior, based on driving and traffic patterns - this will be a critical capability in the development of autonomous vehicles. Aspects of machine learning are introduced in pockets in navigation, Voice Recognition systems already. The customer will expect the system to progressively learn and keep track with a feature to override. More compute power, combined with big data from the cloud, in the vehicle to perform heavy duty analytics.

  6. Shared Mobility: Ownership paradigms are changing, shared mobility has many aspects to it such as car sharing, ride sharing, ride splitting complementing the traditional car pooling and public transits. The shared mobility concept is amplified by the real time data from the vehicle and embraced by the new generation. In addition, when integrated with public transportation, this can serve as a last mile connectivity option. As this trend picks up, this will have a major impact on consumer's life style. Automakers have to adapt to deal with this change in paradigm

ii. Develop

The "Develop" phase is characterized by trends that have gone beyond the incubate phase and are being actively worked upon by the entire ecosystem. These could be large programs that are just kicking off, field trials of some of the trends, essentially the technology is validated and being developed to be deployed in production

  1. ECU consolidation: The number of ECUs in luxury vehicles are close to 100, there is a clear drive towards consolidation given the complexity. Leveraging multi-core processing, the roadmap is towards domain based controllers such as ADAS, Infotainment, and Autonomous driving with shared resources and infrastructure across these controllers. The impact on end customer may not be apparent but for the auto maker this is a huge step up in terms of efficiency, system costs, overall weight, efficient supply chains

  2. Autonomous vehicles: There has been significant strides on this topic last year and every ecosystem player is investing in driverless vehicles. There are field trials, and billions of miles collectively. The space has expanded to autonomous fleets, delivery vehicles and such. The technology, regulations and ecosystem around driverless vehicles are still maturing and hence this is in the Develop phase. The customer impact is kind of out there, since the customers are not sure what to expect and surveys/feedback don't convey the real feedback. The value chain impact is significant since it brings in a whole league of suppliers and technology companies who were not involved in the automotive domain. 

  3. User adoption: Various polls have indicated that consumers are well informed about connected vehicle services and are willing to pay and share their data if it's going to help in driving. Despite this the uptick on user adoption is still in its infancy and not exploded. Features that drive adoption, will be researched further, and integration into the lifestyle will be a key element that will have an element. The customer will continue to look forward innovative features that make the driving experience unique. 

  4. Ethernet in the car: The explosion of multimedia content in the vehicle increases the demand for high speed networking inside the vehicle. There are specific requirements around Quality Of Service (QOS), Scalability, Open vs. Proprietary. Ethernet AVB is an enhancement to the IEEE open Ethernet standards and is expected to address the future requirements of networking in the vehicle while minimizing the wiring and weight as well. The widespread adoption of Ethernet AVB is still a couple of years away. The customer is going to have an enhanced experience in the car with respect to multimedia content and for the auto OEMs coupled with ECU consolidation, this is progress towards Design To Adapt philosophy

  5. Next generation platforms: While there is much discussed about the connected car platforms (Telematics Service Providers), these platform were designed and developed almost a decade ago. Since then there have been feature evolution, technology evolution, consumer preferences, behaviors has changed, business models have evolved and pretty much the entire ecosystem. While patch work helped in addressing some of the immediate problems, automakers are realizing that their platforms have to be modernized to scale for the future. The planning, design and development for these next gen platforms are in progress. For the customer, this is a step towards a harmonious, consistent and exhilarating experience inside and outside the vehicle. For the ecosystem, this is about building the foundation for the future. 

  6. Model based system engineering (MBSE): MBSE is a visually and semantically rich modelling construct that allows engineers, and processes to align towards a common goal of creating great products. Given the multi-disciplinary nature of connected vehicle features, MBSE brings together electrical, mechanical and software domains to interact on common ground through out the entire product development cycle. It addresses a key issue of diverse technologies, skills and tool sets and unifies them through a single system view of the product under development. The ability to simulate, perform what-if analysis and keep the model updated are obvious advantages. The approach will become de-facto standard in a few years and has far reaching implications for the automaker and entire value chain 

  7. Productivity Enhancer: While one might question the need to open a PDF document on the head unit of the vehicle, or connect through VPN, these are features that are being developed to amplify the productivity. In our experience Tier 1s are developing it and Auto OEMs would like it in their vehicles. The feature adoption is not as widespread but office in the car will be a welcome feature for the anytime, anywhere and always connected knowledge worker. Of course this will have a significant impact on the customer, the key thing to watch out for is driver distraction and as much as the feature is smartly designed, it will be on its way to being a blockbuster. The ISVs in the value chain will have a significant boost and have to figure out how to support the auto channel and it's regulations

  8. Regulations: There is increase in scope of regulations governing the automotive industry - these include manufacturing, driving, electronics, connectivity, driver distraction, autonomous vehicle, safety regulations, cyber security. I have not covered the entire list here but regulations have to be dynamic and need to be updated to keep pace with technology, behavioral and lifestyle changes. They also have to be include multiple stakeholders in constructive dialogue before rolling them out. The industry and value chain players are collaborating to form consortiums, standard bodies to define consistent frameworks as well

iii. Implement

The "Implement" phase is characterized by trends that are already in production or in the final stages that it will be released in 0-2 years. When you think about it, these were in the incubate phase beginning of the decade and are now mature enough to be in the car. Cyber security is being mandated by regulations, DevOps is one way to accelerate the product development life cycle and keep pace with the consumer electronics industry. Let us now look at the trends in this phase

  1. Advanced Voice Recognition (VR): The growth of Siri, Google Now, Alexa are signs of Audio User Interface as the next frontier in computing. Conversational interfaces that understand natural language are the next frontier. With a combination of on-board and off-board processing, VR is expected to minimize driver distraction. The customer impact is of course huge when the same home and phone experience transcends into the car. The ecosystem impact is significant since VR amplifies safety, however it is crucial that accuracy and reliability of these systems are top notch so that consumer adoption picks up

  2. Cyber security: The year 2017 will be defining from a cyber-security standpoint. The connected vehicle is a large computing device on wheels with estimated 100 million lines of code and generating roughly 438 billion GB per year. The attack surface has increased significantly, and there are multiple vulnerabilities in the entire chain. Consortiums and industry bodies such as Auto-ISAC, SAEJ3061 standards are defining frameworks for a consistent and unified response to this major threat. There are multiple security mechanisms in place already such as hardware hardening, secure communication, Over The Air updates and we will continue to see the mitigation responses increase. Automakers have a responsibility to enhance consumer awareness on this topic and the entire value chain has to collaborate to ensure that security specifications are addressed during the product development life cycle

  3. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS): ADAS systems are a natural evolution towards autonomous driving, there are a bunch of features that make up ADAS - Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Warning, Heads Up Display (HUD), Lane Departure Warning, Parking Assist, Drowsiness Detection, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), Blind Spot Detection and many more. Some of these features have become standard on cars in the road already and they will continue to proliferate in mass market and lower segment vehicles as technology matures, and costs of including the features are marginal. Generally speaking the acceptance and adoption of these features has been very encouraging since there is value and it amplifies driver safety. So, in 2017 - watch out for these features in most new models

  4. Firmware Over The Air (FOTA): Software updates as a technology is not new, this has been available since computers were networked. They have continued to evolve and with the explosion in smart phones, OTA updates have become part of our daily lives - there's excitement with new versions. FOTA will become a regular feature, Tesla has been a pioneer and averaging a software upgrade one a month. The communication, building awareness among consumers, and the entire software upgrade management will get fine tuned as consumers get used to software upgrades being delivered to their vehicle. Of course this will be a huge boost for the ecosystem players given the massive impact it can have on updating software in the vehicle. I'd still urge caution since the upgrades are not like the ones to the phone

  5. DevOps: Automobile industry is a century old, the practices are traditional and in many ways manufacturing operations in the industry have been a benchmark for other sectors to follow including software engineering. However, given the relative pace of change in various sectors fueled by multiple triggers. DevOps is a cultural change that focuses on rapid delivery through the adoption of agile and lean practices. DevOps emphasize people, process and tools and seeks to improve collaboration between Dev and Ops. This will mean changes getting into production faster, more reliably and hence the customer impact will be positive. For the industry, embracing DevOps will be an opportunity to shift from a waterfall based methodology to an agile way of working

I hope you enjoyed reading the trends, its impact and how they will pan out over the next few years. I definitely cannot predict the future, but this is an attempt to structure what I have learnt, heard, and read in my interactions over the last year. It has definitely been an intense exercise to list out the candidates, weed through them and then create the top list. I'd appreciate your feedback as I continue this exercise annually. 


Hi Vinod,

Nice piece of information. Thanks..

Below are two comments from my side :

1. Digital Twin: Companies like PTC with their product Thingworx are now letting end user see the real time parameters for an actual entity (vehicle , vending machine etc.) in field. My view is that this trend is now in Develop phase and we will use matured implementations soon.

2. Virtual Cockpit: There is a continuous discussion happening around enhancing in-vehicle Dashboard experience as OEMs are struggling to provide a consistent user experience across Center screen and instrument cluster. With the implementation of Virtual Cockpit by AUDI more OEMs will follow suit and this area will also grow in next 2-4 years.

Cool Vinod !

1. With regard to [Modular and Adaptable Design], what would be the potential repercussions on changes in equipment with regard to testing - performance, comfort,reliability and safety, post the change when a customer wants a change to the same piece of equipment ? I am sure it is much more expensive than what you could do with software right ?
2. Regarding[Next Generation Platforms], I suppose most top automakers have been thinking hard along these lines already right (BMW's NGTP 2.0 was a platform concept without tying into technology and I am sure this would keep evolving for ever)

Thank you Suraj for the feedback. I am glad you liked the article.

1. There are 100 million lines of code in luxury vehicles today. With growth of electronics and software in the car, the adaptable design is about the ability to configure features in the car based on software updates - an analogy here is the in-app purchases you make or hardware platforms where features can be toggled tied to subscription. Of course the mechanical components would still have to be replaced or maybe with proliferation of AR/VR - the customers can be empowered to "Do It Themselves"

2. You are absolutely right that the automakers thinking about the next generation platforms - the classic technology refresh that we've seen in the enterprise world. The triggers in this particular case are faster time to market, scalability, cloud migration, adoption of microservices. From a technology perspective, the quest is always towards future proof platforms and like you have rightly said, it's an evolution

Hi Saravjit

Thank you for sharing your feedback. The digital twin is beyond just observing real time parameters - as you have rightly mentioned, the first step is visibility into real time data, however the digital twin keeps itself updated over the duration of vehicle and the visualization can help in many ways such as performance of components, simulation and what if analysis which are powerful feedback mechanisms into the product development life cycle

Yes the virtual cockpit is an important development, and is integral to the in-vehicle experience. An integrated digital experience maps all the customer touchpoints in the journey - pre-purchase, ownership and transition. Even within the in-vehicle experience, providing a seamless experience across all screens is critical.

Thanks again for the feedback

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