In a recent interaction with Industry Outlook, Prashanth shared his insights on the recent tech advancements in the automotive industry, with an emphasis on SDVs and HPCs.
Prashanth Doreswamy, an IIM Ahmedabad alumnus, boasts over three decades of automotive expertise, spanning areas like electronics, user experience, architecture, networking, safety, and autonomous mobility. As President & CEO of Continental India since 2017, he navigates the dynamic industry with strategic finesse. His impactful leadership, honed through pivotal roles in companies like Cooper Standard, Johnson Controls, Ingersoll Rand, and Siemens VDO Automotive, propels Continental India's success in the ever-evolving automotive landscape.
How are SDVs and HPC technologies shaping the automotive industry in recent times?
With the integration of software into the vehicles, the automotive industry has been undergoing a serious metamorphosis lately, wherein the vehicles now have become capable of interacting with users rather than just being a means of transport. This has been possible due to the shift from mechanical to mechatronics with the introduction of new forms of electrical & electronic architecture, which has resulted in the increase in the electronic content in cars today. Modern vehicles presently contain more than 100 electronic control units (ECUs), Zone Control Units (ZCUs), and High-Performance Computers (HPCs) that help in managing various critical functions ranging from safety, assistance, and convenience. This way, vehicles are increasingly becoming software-defined with them containing up to 150 million lines of code, and this is expected to reach 300 million by 2030. The future cars will be dominated by software and data, resulting in a significant restructuring of the automotive ecosystem in the long run.
Throw some light on the impact that communication and digital technologies have on diverse automotive functions.
The increased electrification of vehicles has also brought along a wide range of next-generation cybersecurity risks, where a cyber-attack on an SDV could prove to be fatal and even lead to loss of life. Thus, automakers need to develop vehicles that are resistant to tampering and are equipped with advanced security features such as encryption and biometric authentication. Another key challenge that connected vehicles face is the availability of networks. For instance, Cellular Vehicle to Everything (C-V2X) allows communication via the LTE network using the 3GPP Release 14, and in the future, the 5G mobile network. The deployment of 5G technology will provide significant network enhancements and benefits such as real-time communication between vehicles, infrastructure, and connected devices, which will be possible because of increased data speed, improved dependability, and ultra-fast reaction times. As a result, 5G will assist in improving driving safety, comfort, and efficiency even more.
The introduction of the digital key will further enhance the overall driving experience. Furthermore, connected vehicles exchange safety-critical information with the infrastructure and surrounding vehicles, reducing the number of accidents and fatalities. A connected car uses big data to continually evolve the software-defined car, enabling it to deliver premium connectivity services and over-the-air (OTA) upgrades to the car throughout its lifecycle. This allows add-ons such as new features. This also takes care of vulnerabilities and cyber threats through real-time security patch management and essential updates to firmware, to make the systems more secure.
What are some of the key cybersecurity measures automotive companies can implement in terms of SDVs and HPCs?
As vehicles are getting more and more connected, cybersecurity is becoming a growing concern. The evolution of vehicles into moving IoT devices has opened doors for threats and vulnerabilities. Therefore, cybersecurity will play a major role in both system software as well as hardware which includes end-to-end designing of hardware to software. Firstly, individual electronic components/systems and the connections between them must be secured, followed by protecting and securing the external interfaces. Once all external interfacing is secured, as the final step of protection, data processing taking place outside of the car has to be strengthened to prevent data theft and exploitation. Cloud and backend solutions also need to be given importance at the final stage, and they need to be protected from security breaches.
Automotive manufacturers must first identify various attack points, strengthen them, and implement security solutions across multiple levels and departments. In cases where the system is being hacked, you must first identify the point of entry, analyze exposed vulnerabilities, and gather critical information in real-time through live monitoring and tracking of connected vehicles. Post this, you can mitigate the damage and immunize the fleet in hours by rolling out software updates and patches over the air. Most importantly, given the long life span of vehicles, it is important to keep in mind the future possibilities while working on cybersecurity. Cybersecurity should be approached holistically with attention given to every stage of design and development in the value chain. New technologies like AI, blockchain, etc. can also be developed to improve the cybersecurity aspects.
Briefly explain the importance of collaborations between automotive and tech enterprises in SDV and HPC areas?
With new technology being introduced every minute and the latest technology becoming obsolete, leading companies are collaborating with players across the automotive, technology, and software industries. Collaborating with other players can significantly reduce development costs and accelerate time-to-market. Over the years, we have collaborated with various companies & institutions and consistently delivered innovative, safe, and market-ready vehicle technologies globally. Our recent partnership with Google Cloud will enable both companies to aim to equip cars with Generative AI, allowing drivers to interact with their cars in a natural dialogue to get the required information.
How is the automotive industry leveraging SDVs and HPC to make cars more sustainable?
Powered by advanced software, SDVs, and HPCs offer a more efficient and sustainable mode of transport. SDVs can leverage advanced algorithms & sensors to optimize driving patterns and reduce unnecessary acceleration, deceleration, and idling. This will lead to more fuel-efficient driving, ultimately lowering energy consumption and emissions. Traditionally, the manufacturing industry has had an image of consuming valuable resources and generating industrial waste. Today, most manufacturers recognize and acknowledge their environmental and social responsibility. In response to the urgent need for decarbonization to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, initiatives are emerging focused on comprehensive sustainability across the entire automotive value chain.