Visteon to support India’s long drive to autonomous vehicles: Amit Jain
Visteon Corporation is one of the leaders in the global automotive infotainment and automation market. The recentlylaunched Phoenix infotainment platform has driven it to further heights. Visteon India, one of the largest Tier 1 companies in the country, is working on various new technologies and cost effective solutions. Amit Jain, Country Head, Visteon India, told Bhargav TS, the situation that is prevailing in the Indian market and how the company is addressing it. Excerpts from the interview:
Q: The industry is now talking more about ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System), so what is your view on it?
Jain: ADAS in India is still in infant stage. We talk about cost pressures and value-for-money features and looking at these priorities there is going to be challenges in adapting ADAS. Today, what India view as the market for ADAS, for example, is the 360 degree view of the car, birdseye view of the car and more intelligent parking systems. For ADAS to completely develop, it is going to go through many phases. In the initial stages of ADAS it is to be more about information and warning. Then it will go into assist mode where, apart from information and warning, the ADAS will start assisting the driver. In the third stage, apart from assist, it will also include some level of autonomous features, like autonomous braking, collision prevention etc.
Q: When will India reach the fully autonomous driving stage?
Jain: To get to the stage of autonomous it will probably take another 15 years. To reach the next level we have to change the entire system and this calls for more investment and the infrastructure has to be at a different level. We are currently working towards the first stage. We believe that consolidation of electronic control unit modules (ECUs) are going to happen within the car and the cockpit electronics are going to get consolidated into cockpit domain controllers.
The cockpit domain controller technology basically has a multicore architecture. Each core will able to drive 1 feature. Within 1 domain controller, multiple touch domains can run simultaneously. Our ADAS approach will be through the domain controller because it has multiple things.
The domain controller will be able to provide flexibility so you can bring in a new core or new feature at any point in time and you don’t have to commit to that up front. Many OEMs in India are not sure when they want to bring ADAS. So the multi-core architecture provides enough bandwidth in terms of computation etc. and the flexibility of a multi-core architecture. Visteon’s domain controllers can do that.
Q: what is going to be Visteon’s approach to autonomous driving?
Jain: Visteon’s autonomous driving approach targets the next generation of vehicle architecture: Sensors connected over the ethernet and central computing of those signals for autonomous applications. We will feature a fail-safe centralised domain hardware based on the current SmartCore domain controller technology.
A key differentiator of Visteon’s autonomous driving vision is the application of artificial intelligence, or, more specifically, machine learning, for object detection and classification as well as other critical driving and monitoring functions that can benefit from a learning approach to improve their effectiveness compared with conventional vehicles. In addition, we will also be open for partner approaches; our architecture will be designed to be open for partners, with algorithmic developers in mind and enabling them to integrate
algorithms and applications with the overall system set-up.
Our approach can be divided into 3 main components: First, the need to generate fault-tolerant hardware in the system set-up based on a centralised unit. Second, Visteon will look to construct an open software architecture and framework that makes it possible for third parties – automakers and other software developers – to develop algorithms and applications for autonomous driving. The third is artificial intelligence (AI). This is required for deep learning and to carry out object classification, object tracking and even decision making. AI is new to the automotive industry, but is essential to making more complex road-based decisions, such as how vehicles are moving and which direction the car should take.
Q: Electronics has become a mainstay for the automotive industry to provide cost effective solutions and meet the global megatrends. Therefore what is Visteon’s vision for 2020?
Jain: India is adopting technologies very fast and there is an increased focus from OEMs. Visteon’s focus is to bring in more awareness on technology to OEMs on what electronics can do to improve the user experience. There is a much higher willingness to pay both from consumers as well as from OEMs. In fact OEMs are allocating more budget towards electronics modules. So we are trying to educate about the necessity of electronics and how much value these electronics are bringing compared to spending on aesthetic parts. The regulatory push is still required in terms of bringing in more electronic components in vehicles. In terms of cost, Visteon’s approach is very simple. One, we do frugal innovation and it is the key to bringing in more electronics in India. Second is bringing disruptive technology at a radically low price. We can develop products right for India and we need not be driven by how the global electronic markets are going, we can bring radically different technology at really low prices and finally not to focus on number of features. There is an obsession with features in India but I think it is clearly shifting from an obsession with the number of features to having the ‘right’ features and focus on user experience.
Q: Apart from cost do you see any challenges in Visteon’s product offerings while addressing OEM expectations?
Jain: Change is happening very fast. We need to keep pace and the capability of talent that we get from the market is constantly a challenge. There is a lot of capability enhancement works and our focus is on advanced technologies. The other challenge is the localisation of components where there is not much movement.
Q: What is the current localisation of electronic products in India?
Jain: The Tier ones like us manufacture 100% in India. PCB manufacturing and assembly is happening in India but in terms of electronic components as such it is still 100% import. The government is giving duty waivers for electronic component import. But it still comes under the area of forex rate, which keeps increasing and that poses a challenge as the end consumer is not ready to pay more for his car. These are the challenges we foresee.
Q: The current electronics content in cars in India is worth between US$ 500 and $1,000. Where do you see the industry is heading to and what is your projection?
Jain: Every time I have tried to project it, I have gone wrong. It has always been higher than my calculation so I would say it is growing. If you take a conservative approach, 25-30% CAGR on automotive electronics is completely doable and if there is any regulatory push that is coming in we can see even more than 30% of growth.
Visteon’s Smartcore is industry-first automotive grade cockpit domain controller solution that improves efficiency and cost of ownership