While the developed world has always dominated automotive electronics R&D all along, a clutch of Indian technology providers have actually taken on their stronger global players and been able to make some achievements.
One of them is the Bangalore-based Tata Elxsi, a part of the Tata Group. Through its four divisions – Embedded Product Design, Industrial Design, Visual Computing Labs and System Integration – it has designed products for the automotive, consumer products, energy, wireless communication, health care and defence sectors.
But developments in the automotive electronics space that are helping it prove its capabilities globally. Talking to Autocar Professional, Anil Narayan Sondur, vice-president (Embedded Software and Engineering Services, Transportation Industry), Tata Elxsi, said that two years ago, OEMs were building their platforms to implement electronic technologies in the areas like body control, engine management, transmission, exterior and interiors, among other things.
Today the focus has changed. OEMs, particularly passenger carmakers, are moving in the direction of achieving the ‘Autonomous Car’, a motor vehicle that uses artificial intelligence, sensors and global position system to drive itself without the active intervention of a human operator, he says.
With this concept, the highest safety levels, that is accident-free driving, may well be achieved. While the population in the developed world ages, personal transport still remains key to moving from one place to another and this is where the autonomous car will play a key role. “Everyone’s talking about the autonomous car. Even the internet service providers like Google and Apple are into it. This is a big change in the global automotive industry,” he elaborates.
As part of the autonomous car programme, Tata Elxsi has developed a new concept that allows for automated vehicle parking. This prototype, powered by an indigenously-developed smart algorithm handles trajectory planning, smoothening and tracking. Called ‘Autonomous Valet Parking’, the system can effectively communicate with the parking gateways/ intelligent servers and collect information about available parking slots. While tracking, the in-built sensors and cameras, scan for pedestrians, obstacles and parks the vehicle on its own. The smart algorithm is capable of intelligently differentiating between a human and an obstruction.
There have also been developments in safety or active safety that can be achieved essentially using a combination of cameras and image processing technology to enhance the safety in the car.
In India, there have been small beginnings. For instance, camera- based systems are being introduced in the form of reverse parking, forward looking cameras, collision detection and so on. “The next stage could see Indian auto electronics technology moving towards blind car detection and lane departure warning, which will lead Indian OEMs onto the autonomous car and allied technologies,” says Sondur.
On other fronts, the networked car has raised fears of it being vulnerable to malicious attacks and little can stop anyone with malicious intent and with some computer-programming skills to gain access to the vehicle ECUs and take control of the vehicle.
To prevent this, Tata Elxsi is providing a solution for secured automotive communication – both internal and external, by designing a central unit in the vehicle. A smart gateway ECU has been proposed, based on modern cryptographic mechanisms to provide authentication, integrity and confidentiality mechanisms that will solve vehicular security issues.
Tata Elxsi has implemented a proof-of-concept that indicates much promise. With the help of a computer tablet, it has been able to establish a secured connection to the vehicle network and access features like tyre pressure, real time vehicle mileage and so on, and also manage infotainment features.
There have also been developments in telematics with it getting integrated with infotainment. In recent times, the company has developed around 10 new products for the automotive sector.
Recently, an Indian OEM launched an infotainment system that Tata Elxsi has worked extensively on a foreign Tier 1 player.
Now based on this infotainment platform, a series of products are being launched. “We have developed a Gateway Electronic Control Unit for a Japanese OEM. It takes signals from all ECUs in the car and communicates between the ECUs,” explains Sondur.
As part of its advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) product programme, it has undertaken integration of the nuance voice recognition software development kit (SDK) for voice commands. This helps the driver to operate infotainment features and other controls without taking his eye off the road or their hands off the wheel. Gesture recognition has been implemented by integration of gesture motion modules into the head unit.
Tata Elxsi has engaged with many OEMs in India, Japan, Europe and the US. The company offers its service to leading Indian and international OEMs and Tier 1s. Its key clients include Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Isuzu, Nissan, Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Lear, Visteon, Delphi and Magna. Currently, the company is working with two OEMs and six to seven Tier I companies in India.
With autonomous vehicles and hybrid-electric vehicles making news, future technologies indicate the necessity of standards like ISO 26262. Tata Elxsi implements ISO 26262:2011 for development of safety critical E/E Systems.
The connected car concept has become a growth driver for technology solution providers worldwide and Tata Elxsi wants to be at the very forefront of these developments.
Also read: Interview with Anil Narayan Sondur, VP (Embedded Software and Engineering Services, Transportation Industry), Tata Elxsi http://bit.ly/1tBbIAV