Automakers Gear Up For Autonomy

While fully autonomous cars are still a number of years from being ubiquitous, technology is already rolling out in stages.


Even though it’s going to be a number of years before autonomous cars are everywhere, the technology to make it happen is already rolling out in stages, giving the automotive ecosystem a chance to gear up as development happens. From electronic fleet management systems, which are already prevalent in semi trucks today, to more sophistication in passenger vehicle driver assistance features, it’s a really interesting time to watch the evolution of technology in this space.

Alongside the technology development, the ecosystem itself continues to go through a constant but steady evolution.

A good example of this is the fact that Jim Hackett, the new president and CEO of Ford Motor Co. was the head of their autonomy unit prior to his latest appointment, noted David Fritz, account technology manager at Mentor, a Siemens business. “That means they get it, they understand. They surely have their problems now, but once they get through that, then they’ve got to address this next wave.”

Further, Fritz reminded, “In the automotive ecosystem today, the OEM sits at the head, and they have a certain culture. That drives the suppliers from the Tier 1 down into the Tier 2, and then to the semiconductor guys, and they all behave as that OEM needs them to behave. When it comes to implementing V2X technology, the real change will be when we start getting regulatory and governmental bodies involved because then the ecosystem will change by region. You could have a different answer for California than you do for Mississippi, not to mention Europe and Asia.”

And with these changes in the ecosystems blending together, there’s obviously a lot more talk about collaboration. “For its part, Mentor Siemens spends a lot of time internally asking how our solutions help these OEMs collaborate, how we protect IP, how we do not black box everything, and how to do all of that when building these chips, and building the systems of the chips. That’s what it’s coming down to in the end.”

“What keeps these OEM CEOs up at night is exactly how to make this transition. As a result, there are acquisitions, and lots of spin outs. Sometimes these are not publicized, but they’re smart now. They’ve learned that we can’t continue to do the same thing in the same way. We’ve got to take these technologies, we’ve got to spin them out. It has to be separate and independent because it’s clean room from our supplier.s And also we can hire these new smart guys from Silicon Valley and everywhere and start building up a team and they’ll do things in a new way,” he added.

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