What Are The Current Trends In The Automotive Industry?

The automotive industry is undergoing major changes and evolving rapidly. Here we identify four trends that are impacting the industry, in terms of both vehicles and wider society.

Trend 1: Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)

It is widely understood that the automotive industry is on the path to creating vehicles that offer full autonomy – cars that drive themselves. This is no easy task and the path to getting there is slower than some have predicted.

However, advances are being made and many are in play today. These are known as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which bring the benefits of autonomous vehicle development to a wider audience.

The Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE) defines six levels of autonomous vehicle level for driving, from zero, where there is no automation at all, and Level 5 offering full autonomy in any location . Some cars currently on the road offer advanced driver assistance features, such as adaptive cruise control and basic autonomous steering, which enable the car to automatically change lanes.

The automotive industry is on the path to creating vehicles that offer full autonomy.

Additionally, as we follow the path to self-driving, the nature of how we interact with our vehicles will evolve. This means that the human-machine interface (HMI) will also change. As humans spend less time driving while inside their vehicles there will be more time for leisure, so there will be numerous screens for the driver and passengers to interact with, for watching entertainment or communicating, in addition to advanced voice and gesture interfaces.

The dangers of a driver falling asleep or being inattentive are now clearly recognised. This means that in-cabin monitoring, using computer vision algorithms and neural networks, is becoming prevalent.

Trend 2: Verticality

The technology pioneers are iconoclasts and disruptive innovators who have no fear. This is leading to new business models from company leaders that have grown up in the high-tech industries such as Silicon Valley and their Asian and Chinese equivalents.

The well-known entrepreneur, investor, and software engineer Marc Andreesen famously said that software is eating the world, and we are seeing this played out in front of our eyes. The car is becoming a software-defined vehicle. Indeed, it is becoming a robot, a robo-taxi driven by its creators’ software and neural networks.

The amount of data moving around the car requires new paradigms, as delivering data from the sensors and multiple cameras around the vehicle becomes mission-critical. This also means that the number of semiconductors in the vehicle is doubling with EV, and doubling again with autonomy, literally creating a data centre on wheels. To cater for all this, the new-style tech companies are vertically integrated and designing their own chips to power these high-end automotive brains to ensure full control of their own destinies.

Trend 3: Smart Cities

More than half the world’s population lives in cities, so moving people around them as efficiently as possible makes sense. As the car becomes a mobile, software-defined platform it makes it easier to connect it to “the cloud”. In a smart city, the cloud will inform the vehicle as to congestion hold-ups and provide optimal routes for energy saving, efficiency or even scenic beauty, to assist the occupants of the vehicle and make the journey more rewarding.

Of course, a vehicle must control its destiny. At 70mph you do not want to be completely dependent on a connection to a remote data centre due to the round-trip latency issues that could arise. That said, the vehicle, whether car, van, commercial lorry or truck will regularly be “phoning home” in order to work with the cloud-brain that is directing and optimising traffic for the smart city.

More than half the world’s population livies in cities, so moving people around them as efficiently as possible makes sense.

Every aspect of the smart city will take advantage of the cloud, edge compute and on-device edge artificial intelligence (AI). Imagination is at the heart of driving this change at the edge and in the data centre. AI processors, such as the Imagination NNA (neural network accelerator), are designed to run neural networks hundreds of times faster than conventional approaches and our GPUs can display graphics, whilst computing complex algorithms to deliver the future faster.

Of course, when we talk about vehicles, we don’t just mean cars. We also mean robots, last-mile delivery vehicles and vehicle-to-doorstep robotic helpers. All will need artificial intelligence to make them interact successfully with their environments and deliver what we need efficiently and effectively to our door.

Trend 4: Motorsport, e-Sports

Perhaps the most exciting area of development is in motorsport where we see the rapid assimilation of telemetry, neural networks and computer vision, both in smart factories and on the racing track. The rise of electric vehicles in motorsport as well as in our day-to-day lives is a reflection of the priorities of the world as a whole as it looks to move on from the internal combustion engine.

Indeed, motorsport has embraced the promise of technology, not just in AI and neural networks, but also in the opportunities for fans around the world to compete in e-Sports for motorsports alongside the world’s most famous drivers. New sports such as autonomous electric vehicle racing is growing and perhaps the next generation of elite drivers will be sitting trackside and not so vulnerable in their vehicles. What we do know is that the excitement of driving will continue, in whatever form it takes.

At Imagination, you can be certain that we will be there creating the future and enabling production-ready solutions and technology.