‘Connected Cars’ will be a huge boon for India: Western Digital

By Anuj Sharma - January 26, 2018
As new technologies emerge in the automotive sector and more tasks become automated, it is anticipated that connected cars would make drivers dependent and even over-reliant to some extent.

Connected cars are set to bring a new dawn in the automotive industry and will be a huge boon for India -- as it can help solve the ever-growing traffic congestion and reduce the number of road accidents, a top executive from the US-based data storage company has said.

“We are currently in the third phase of connected cars, where we see technologies such as software, data, analytics, over-the-air (OTA) transmission of data between the software and the cloud -- all intersecting to deliver a reliant and more advanced on demand mobility services for connected vehicles,” Vivek Tyagi, Director for India business development, SanDisk brand Commercial sales and Support at Western Digital Corporation, told XiteTech.

With over 200 million vehicles enabled for OTA software updates, data generated from these cars is set to grow exponentially and according to industry reports these connected cars would generate up to 25GB of data per hour. This data would consist of everything from routes, speed, wear and tear of the components to road conditions.

Also, the increased growth of mobile apps and cloud solutions had taken telematics applications to the next level which in turn has given rise to next generation of connected cars that would utilise Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to understand the preferences of the rider and optimise the travel experience. This would be done through virtual assistants, off-board content and real time information of their surroundings.

Access to this large volume of telematics and driver behaviour data could help relieve traffic and also help reduce driver errors, Tyagi said, adding that, this would in turn help reduce the number of road accidents and fatalities in the country. Moving aside from a safety perspective, autonomous vehicles with infotainment systems would make the drive a more engaging experience for their riders and that would help manufacturers in improving customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. 

And to store this humongous data securely, Western Digital Corporation (WDC) offers a diversified portfolio of products that has been tailored for specific target markets, including commercial, industrial, automotive and connected homes, Tyagi emphasised.

WDC’s commercial products such as iNAND and SanDisk micro-SD cards are designed for OEM applications and enable applications with a wide range of performance needs. Industrial products provide extended roadmap support and high endurance, with temperature support of -40°C to 85°C and up to 105°C. The connected home devices are optimised for a write endurance of up to 50K P/E cycles, high operating temperature support and other value add features.

In the automotive segment, WDC identifies two categories of products. First is the removable memory, which would be available in the form of SD cards and second category is embedded flash memory, which is onboarded on to the system. As these devices are targeted for the automotive sector, Tyagi believes that these products are designed to handle temperature requirements, provide reliability and at the same time have video capabilities.

All the products offered by WDC follow the automotive industry’s standard of testing semiconductor devices called AEC-Q100. And, in order to address infotainment and navigation requirements, WDC offers three products in the market. First is an embedded flash memory chip called iNAND, this is a semiconductor NAND device which is soldered on to the board, along with processors and other sub systems. Second type is a removable memory which is a full-size SD card, and the third product is smaller sized micro-SD cards.

As consumers need to store 2D and 3D maps, which would require a fairly large amount of storage, WDC offers an automotive grade, full size SD card.

“The use of cloud computing has also triggered a new era in the automotive technology -- from cars with machine-to-machine solutions that enable interactions with other vehicles to appliances present inside a consumer’s home. Through cloud computing, cars in future would be able to optimise routes for the commuters and plan trips, even allowing consumers to automatically adjust heating and lighting in their homes. This migration to cloud would be an added advantage for OEMs that are future ready, enabling them to be able to adapt and navigate through the evolving lifestyles of drivers and the automotive industry,” Tyagi told XiteTech.

While new emerging technologies will make more taskts automated, there still might be some functions that the drivers would want to perform manually. There could be events wherein the system is not equipped to handle itself such as in an event of automation failure. Researchers also believe that resuming manual operation of the vehicle after a duration of automated driving would affect the performance of the drivers in comparison to those who are accustomed to driving manually.

Overall, Tyagi believes that with the large-scale deployment of automated vehicles, the driver’s role will evolve. He would no longer be responsible for maneuvering the vehicle, rather he would be responsible for supervising the automation systems and to monitor the environment. With the functions getting divided between the drivers and the automated systems, the drivers would be expected to improve on their coordination, cooperation and collaboration skills. Along with this, they would be expected to maintain a constant awareness of their environment while they continue to perform other tasks. And in case of a partially automated vehicle, these drivers would be expected to be experts in transitioning from automated to manual driving.

In 2017, the connected car penetration in India was just 1.6 per cent in 2017 and is expected to hit four per cent in 2021. However, for connected cars to be a reality in India, a number of pertinent challenges need to be addressed.

First being the integrating of technology with the existing infrastructure. Connected cars are designed to perform a series of functions such as navigation, remote diagnostics, semi-autonomous driving features, and of course entertainment, however running these applications without fail requires a call for constant connectivity. And in India, particularly in rural areas, connectivity dropouts are common and thus future of connected cars might be a long way off until infrastructure is made useful.

Another key aspect to be taken into consideration would be significant changes that are required to be made to the automotive laws in the country. These laws would have to be revised to accommodate the way in which machines would be allowed to take on the wheel. Also with the rise of cyberattacks in the past few months that have targeted connected devices, safety has become a concern both on service providers and the government to create a robust and secure environment in warding off threats, hackers and malicious attacks on these fully-autonomous systems.

By 2025, the automotive market would have an $20 billion opportunity through connectivity and embedded solutions. And while connected cars have faced difficulties during their starting years, their inflection point is not far away and the connected car businesses are expected to grow if major automotive companies, along with wireless carriers and IT service providers form a partnership that is effective and built on platforms that use technologies such as virtual network, cloud computing etc. 

“For the coming years, data generation from connected cars and its storage will be the next big trend and this is where WDC comes into the picture. We will work constantly in order to provide major automotive manufacturers with large density, low cost and fast storage,” added Tyagi.


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