Autonomous vehicles are already in use in industrial fleets, in highly controlled environments. When it comes to consumer vehicles, the ground is still getting ready. From automakers to technology giants, 19 companies are working to launch autonomous or driverless cars on the road by 2020.1 According to a study published by McKinsey, adoption of autonomous vehicles by consumers is still a decade away and will require building substantial infrastructure and an entire ecosystem of suppliers.

Some of the key challenges that the OEMs are facing include:

Reliability of the virtual car environment map — Pedestrian recognition is not a new thing in cars. A Swedish luxury vehicle manufacturer first introduced it in 2010 using a front-facing camera and a RADAR. But like every technology, there is room for improvement as the current technology is not 100% accurate. Companies are working to improve full image visibility and algorithm that will make computation faster and more accurate, making this technology more effective for self-driving vehicles. A similar deep level of accuracy and analysis is also required from RADAR based Lane Change Assist (LCA) and Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) systems by analyzing the associated video footprint. Sensor fusion should be enhanced to ensure the reliability of the “virtual car environment map” in real time.

Compliances and regulations — As the automotive industry moves toward autonomous vehicles, the need for global standards and regulations will become crucial. This will enable interoperability, keep costs under control, and help the global autonomous market to grow.

There is also a chance that regulator will require OEMs to manage the after sales service and maintenance systems. Regulators will want OEMs or automakers to take greater responsibility for the security and safety aspects of the autonomous vehicles.

Supplier partnerships and ecosystems — The idea of a fully automatic vehicle is conceptual with different players racing to grab the market — technology players, automakers, and tier 1 suppliers of OEM. Each player holds its trump card, however, the winner will be the one who can form the strongest and most reliable network of suppliers. In the words of Arunprasad Nandakumar, Frost & Sullivan Intelligent Mobility Research Analyst, „Overall, the participants that will enjoy success are not likely to be singular entities, but those with the strongest partnerships and ecosystems. These companies are expected to boost a robust product and service portfolio that best address the needs of next-generation drivers.”2

Cultural change — Most of the traditional automakers and tier 1 suppliers have a hierarchical system of decision making. Traditionally they design products, take them to the market, and try to persuade people to buy them. On the contrary, digital technology companies such as Google and Apple listen to what customer want and make their product accordingly. To compete and win the market, automakers will have to undergo cultural change and strengthen to think from their customers’ perspective. Analytics and the culture of data thinking will contribute to the success.

As the competitive landscape heats up, the companies will need to look for new ways to contain cost and manage resources, while at the same to upgrade infrastructure to continuously improve their product. This will require them to partner strategically so that they can focus on doing what they do best and let the experts do the rest. What do you think? Share your opinion with us.

1 https://www.techinsider.io/google-apple-tesla-race-to-develop-driverless-cars-by-2020-2016-7/#google-has-never-given-a-formal-deadline-but-has-suggested-its-working-on-having-the-technology-ready-by-2020-3

2 https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/growing-acceptance-of-autonomous-driving-allows-for-growth-opportunities-and-prompts-automobile-oems-to-develop-new-business-models-300250799.html

Written by Thomas Kramer

on 11 Oct 2016

Thomas Kramer is our Head of Electronics and Software Development at Quest Germany. He has over 21 years of international experience in the automotive field. He started his career back in 1994 at a Japanese automotive major. During this tenure of 11 years here, he collected a wide range of experiences on various products and gained significant multicultural skills. He was in charge of all German OEMs and related suppliers. In 2005 Thomas moved over to an US based automotive major, taking charge of navigation map data for an advanced German OEM. Prior to joining Quest, Thomas worked with another Japanese automotive major as Business Manager for their German activities. Thomas holds a diploma in electrical engineering.