Driverless Cars Are The Future Of Auto Sector

by Priyanka Pugaokar    Jul 26, 2016

Sanjay Gupta Driverless cars are no longer a science fiction but an impending reality. With the huge amount of investments in the industry, from tech giants such as Alphabet, Tesla, General Motors, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Nissan, Delphi and many others, the autonomous industry is set to explode in the next few years. IHS Autonomous Vehicle Sales Forecast states 21 Million sales globally in the year 2035. Though critics of driverless cars are apprehensive about the security concerns, automotive companies believe that it is a future of the industry. 

As the automotive electronics industry is set to grow, there is a huge opportunity for semiconductor players to innovate in this space. NXP Semiconductors, the fifth-largest global non-memory semiconductor supplier, believes that the driverless cars will hit the road by 2020. However, to enable that the technology will require a few more years of testing to become glitch free. In a candid interaction with CXO Today, Sanjay Gupta, Senior Director at NXP Semiconductors talks about the future of driverless cars and the market opportunity for semiconductor players in this space.

What market potentials do you see in the automotive electronics industry in India?

The Indian automotive industry is going through a phase of rapid transformation and growth and has emerged as one of the largest across the globe. This poses a huge potential for the automotive electronics market which is already gearing up to compliment the auto industry’s progression. With the surge in customer demands these days in terms of safety comfort and infotainment, the automotive electronics market has seen a significant boost. The car of future is also expected to be equipped with even more advanced features that would help prevent accidents, entertain occupants and at the same time is eco-friendly. 

We have observed that the growth driver of this segment is purely dependent on the evolving concepts like IoT. Similarly, innovations will also have a key roleplay, especially in addressing to consumer needs. Advance Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) has been the most significant innovation to the automotive industry in the recent years. We believe ADAS will have immense influence on the growth of automotive electronics segments in the next couple of years. In the coming decade, we will further see the boom in the industry potential and opportunities are endless. 

What are the latest trends in the automotive electronics market in India? 

One trend which is quite dominant is product innovation which is evolving constantly. Today, manufacturers use innovations like smart objects, autonomous production, and access to the cloud to support customization on a large scale and manufacture products in close to real-time. This is further accelerated by the use of NFC, IoT and will increase automation dramatically. 

As the automotive electronics industry is growing steadily, what opportunities do you see for semiconductor players? 

Semiconductor players in the industry have lots of opportunities to tap on as semiconductor industry on its own is showing the high potential of growth because as inputs are themselves witnessing high demand. The end-use industries such as mobile devices, telecommunication equipment, information technology, office automation (IT & OA), industrial machinery, automobiles and several other industries have applications for computing in some form or other and thereby necessarily have growing demand for semiconductors. Moreover, concepts like IoTs, smart cities, smart houses and connected cars are also picking up momentum which will increase the demand for intelligent computing, thereby creating sustainable demand for semiconductors.

How do you summarize the future of driverless cars? What kind of roadblocks need to be cleared to get a green signal in the country? 

Today with technology developing at such rapid speed, we can see science fiction shaping into reality, driverless car being one of it. Major players like Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Nissan, Delphi and Nissan have been working on the technology from past half a decade or so. Recently Google’s porotype pilot testing last year was quite interesting making driverless cars the topic of discussion.

The automotive sector overall believes that driverless cars are the future and will hit the roads by 2020. However, there is limitation to this technology as the latest prototype has not been tested in heavy rain or snow due to safety concerns. These cars rely primarily on pre-programmed route data, they do not obey temporary traffic lights and, in some situations, revert to a slower “extra cautious” mode in complex unmapped intersections. With the growing concerns of road safety and innovation of technology, there is a boom in the automotive sector and in future of driverless cars. However, making this technology glitch free and smooth will require few more years of testing.

Security is the most important element in the everything connected concept. How do you address security concerns in IoT?

Today, security is a race in the connected world and staying ahead is a major challenge. We know security is an increasingly critical part of the connected solutions you use and design. Identity theft is at an all-time high. Data privacy concerns are arising on pace with the growth of connected devices. And newly-connected command and control systems present attractive targets for hackers. Our R&D team is focused on enabling secure car access and are working on other security solutions. In order to ensure data is protected and guarantee the security of networked devices in future, regulatory precautions are called for to minimize risk. We are one of the leading brands in the security and connected ecosystem and we are working tirelessly to ensure that our solutions and products can solve the security challenges of today. 

Please explain the growth story of NXP Semiconductors in India? 

Over the years, the operations have significantly grown in India and today we are a team of professional engineers working tirelessly to move up the value chain. They are a vital part of global network of design teams which form the core of NXP business operations. In 2007, NXP India expanded its Noida operation. The India Design Center is involved in development of hardware and software designs for the embedded market. 

India is a key market for us and especially with the kind of focus on R&D and other initiatives like Digital India, Smart cities etc. we believe we have huge opportunity here and are looking to significantly contribute to various initiatives of the government. 

What technological innovations have you brought in the automotive electronics space? 

Technologies like in-car infotainment, touch to start etc. have already taken a front seat and are driving growth of the automotive industry. Furthermore, elements like digital display and park assists have become a ‘must have’ in all segments of cars today. So we are working extensively to develop technologies and solutions in the in-car infotainment, in-vehicle networking, Automated Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), powertrain, chassis, body and overall secure car. Today 90 per cent of auto innovation is happening via electronics. What is increasingly becoming important is security. Our R&D team is focused on enabling secure car access and are working on other security solutions. 

What are the key thrust areas of NXP Semiconductors in 2016? 

Our key focus is on security based connected devices, which is driving our engineers to work on some of the very advanced microcontrollers for enabling IOT applications both in consumer as well as in networking space. We are also focusing on other areas like the non-memory space, connected home and have solutions to cater to larger initiatives like Smart cities, secure gateways etc. Our strength in R&D and design has helped us develop innovative solutions and we are working with multiple Indian OEMs already.