The future of the automotive industry: automation and connectivity in vehicles

The automotive industry is undergoing a rapid transformation towards greater automation and connectivity in vehicles. While safety is a primary concern, automakers also face the challenge of making connected vehicles affordable and cost-competitive.

Cars today contain more semiconductors than ever before, with an estimated 1,400 chips in the average vehicle. These chips play a key role in environmental detection and driver monitoring. As the number and complexity of sensors increases, automakers must address higher-bandwidth interfaces, low-latency network architectures, and higher processing capabilities. In addition, the implementation of functional safety becomes essential to ensure safe operation under various failure modes.

To achieve security by design, chip makers like Nvidia consider security standards in the design of chips, operating systems, and related software suites. Algorithms and software applications are designed to enable highly automated and autonomous cars to safely handle a wide range of real-world scenarios. Simulation is used to create strange and dangerous situations for training without putting anyone in danger.

In an effort to reduce complexity and cost, the industry is adopting new electrical and electronic architectures. The move towards a zonal architecture groups electronic control units (ECUs) by location in the vehicle rather than by function or domain. This consolidation allows car manufacturers to have fewer separate ECUs by increasing the functionality of zone controllers.

A significant problem is the number of fixed-function devices that are neither programmable nor upgradeable. To solve this, the software-defined revolution is driving the development of platforms with consolidation into a single programmable computer. This enables over-the-air updates and embeds artificial intelligence capabilities into the vehicle, improving over time to enable interactive conversations with the car itself.

With the development of connected and autonomous vehicles, automakers are redefining their role. They are now playing a bigger role in electronic decisions within the ECU and are becoming technology companies in their own right. This encouraged collaboration with semiconductor suppliers and influenced future vehicle capabilities. Semiconductors are no longer just a means to an end, but a strategic tool to achieve car companies’ visions and differentiate themselves from the competition.

In short, the integration of automation and connectivity into vehicles poses safety, affordability, and price competitiveness challenges for automakers. But it also opens up opportunities for innovation and collaboration to shape the future of the automotive industry.

FAQ

1. How many chips are in the average car?

It is estimated that the average car has around 1400 chips.

2. What role do semiconductors play in vehicles?

Semiconductors are essential for environmental sensing and driver monitoring in vehicles.

3. How do car manufacturers ensure safety in autonomous vehicles?

Car manufacturers consider safety standards in the design of chips, operating systems and software applications. Simulation is used to train vehicles to safely handle various real-world scenarios.

4. What is a zone architecture?

A zone architecture is an electrical and electronic architecture that groups electronic control units (ECUs) according to location in the vehicle, allowing for consolidation and reducing the number of separate ECUs.

5. Why is chip programmability important?

Programmability enables software updates and the integration of artificial intelligence capabilities, making vehicles more adaptable and improving functionality over time.

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