Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) are poised to radically change and disrupt the automotive industry, for both OEMs and consumers alike. While there’s little doubt that ADAS will make driving safer and more convenient, obstacles to widespread adoption still remain. How will OEMs and suppliers need to collaborate? How can OEMs encourage consumers to trust autonomous vehicles? And can government regulations help speed adoption? Here automotive insiders Robin Milavec from Nexteer Automotive and Dr. Massimo Venturi from Eberspaecher provide some answers.
Q: As ADAS technologies continue to advance, we’ve seen shifts in the traditional automaker-supplier collaboration model. What types of collaboration are needed to bring new advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) technology to market?
Dr. Massimo Venturi: Technology is advancing at a rate never before experienced in the automotive industry. In particular, as a vehicle’s electrical systems become increasingly more complex, OEM-supplier collaboration is increasingly essential.
Specifically, upfront collaboration and co-development of vehicle specifications and electrical topologies are required to keep up with the pace of change and meet consumer expectations. Collaborating earlier in the vehicle-development phase will help identify opportunities for improved system architecture and integration, detect potential time and cost savings and, most importantly, ensure OEMs deliver a vehicle that consumers want to drive.
Eberspaecher Automotive Controls is frequently asked by its customers to help solve complex electrical architecture challenges and through our experience, knowledge, and proven processes, we have collaborated to develop leading solutions that are supporting the development of these next-generation vehicles.
Robin Milavec: The advancement of ADAS technologies and the move toward more software-defined vehicles is leading to an explosion of OEM requirements for new vehicle programs. OEMs are focusing on software-enabled features – like ADAS technologies – that add value for drivers and help differentiate their vehicles in the marketplace.
OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers have a strong history of collaboration. But this shift requires OEMs and Tier 1s to find ways to offset this complexity by simplifying and standardizing in other areas. For example, these ever-expanding software requirements are driving an evolution in electrical architectures, which in turn is driving the standardization of hardware and separation of software.
Tier 1 suppliers have traditionally been a center of specialized innovation for vehicle sub-systems – essentially a research-and-development extension of OEMs. To bring ADAS technologies to market, Tier 1’s will continue to play a key role in contributing to and co-innovating new ADAS features with OEMs. For example, at Nexteer, we act as a technology partner with our OEM customers, which is critical because our integrated hardware and software solutions enable many ADAS features and also must be integrated into the vehicle architecture level at an early stage. Consequently, we work upstream with OEMs – for example, through advanced tech-development projects. In addition, we work very closely with OEMs to guarantee the safety and performance of all our technologies, including ADAS features. But because the validation of ADAS features must consider a nearly infinite number of scenarios, we now rely more and more on simulation, modeling, and hardware-in-the-loop (HiL) stands to provide the necessary testing coverage.
Q: Many drivers mistrust driver-assistance systems and disable key safety features because they are bothersome. At the same time, it is easy for drivers to become too trustful of driver-assistance systems and take their eyes off the road. What role do suppliers play in building consumer trust with ADAS technology?
Milavec: Suppliers can play a key role in working with OEMs to develop innovative ADAS solutions that meet the needs and wants of consumers. Suppliers can conduct focus groups with consumers to ensure their technologies under development are intuitive and not distracting to drivers, which makes them more effective and increases drivers’ adoption and usage rates.
For example, Nexteer is working on early and intuitive warning software that enhances driver safety in slippery conditions. Through human factor studies, we’ve found that visual information systems that warn drivers of slippery road conditions can be overwhelming and ineffective. So instead, our software solution mimics the steering feel of a slippery surface before the driver reaches the actual slippery road. Based on our human-factor studies, we’ve found that giving an early “heads-up” through steering feel influences the driver to intuitively reduce vehicle speed, thus making this software solution a more effective ADAS feature that improves driver safety.
Venturi: It is our responsibility as a supplier to help develop and integrate technologies that perform to the customers’ requirements reliably and without failure. As suppliers, we have the benefit of working with all automakers around the globe and can identify and leverage best practices to support best-in-class ADAS technology.
For example, Eberspaecher works with automakers worldwide to create highly reliable vehicle power architectures through our ASIL-D-rated switches, advanced tool chain and software expertise. This helps ensure that uninterrupted power is delivered to critical devices within the vehicle. As partners, we work with our OEM customers to develop technologies that can be proven trustworthy.
Q: What types of government regulation are important for the widespread development of ADAS? What types of regulation should government avoid?
Venturi: ADAS features have the potential to reduce traffic crashes and save lives. Government regulation should focus on setting guidelines, parameters, and standards, rather than prescribing specific technologies for ADAS.
Additionally, there should be alignment established nationally and/or globally to support automakers’ investments in technology, as well as limit confusion in the marketplace as consumers travel the world and encounter differences regionally. Ideally, with industry and government support, we can improve consumer understanding and adoption of ADAS technologies.
Milavec: From a supplier perspective, consistency and consensus among specifications and regulations, as well as a vision for technology “roadmaps” for current and future phases, are always important in the widespread development and deployment of new technologies
Q: ADAS technology is increasingly available as standard or optional equipment in new cars and trucks, but the vast majority of vehicles on the road lack driver-assistance features. What needs to happen for driver-assistance technology to become even more mainstream?
Milavec: Development of new ADAS features should always be driven by answering a consumer need or want. I believe that focusing on what consumers want or need is key to mainstream adoption and usage of ADAS technologies that increase safety and performance. And it’s even better if you can make the technology intuitive or even invisible to drivers. Consumer education is also important so drivers understand the benefits and capabilities of new technologies – and thus understand how features like Steer-by-Wire, stowable steering columns or road surface-detection software can make their driving experience safer, more comfortable and fun.
Venturi: For ADAS technology to become more mainstream, consumers need greater trust in the systems and must understand how they can help improve the driving experience and avoid crashes. This can be accomplished by standardizing terminology and creating more awareness and educational programs about the benefits of ADAS.
When anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC) first entered the market, they were met with skepticism and doubt. However, over time through multiple education campaigns and the use of statistics that showed how the technologies save lives, people became more familiar with the benefits – and the adoption rates increased. ADAS technology will likely follow a similar path and because they are a gateway to the future of fully autonomous vehicles, it will be important for the industry to support their adoption.
Q: What are the key competencies the industry needs to advance ADAS technologies and develop and manufacture the next generation of electrified and autonomous vehicles?
Venturi: There are many complex challenges facing the industry as mobility advances and many of these are hidden deep within the vehicle’s architecture. One of the key areas that we feel will grow in importance for electrified and autonomous vehicles is innovative electronic topologies that include built-in redundancies to ensure all safety-critical devices don’t fail. To accomplish this, automakers need to identify partners like Eberspaecher Automotive Controls that are experienced and knowledgeable about functional safety, including producing ASIL-rated products. They also must be able to design with flexibility in mind; the chip shortage taught us that we need to allow for the substitution of alternative components without compromising performance or quality. Security must also be top-of-mind; as vehicles becomes increasingly connected, we need to protect the electrical infrastructure from cyber-attacks.
Milavec: Two key competencies are critical: safety and intuitive motion control expertise. Safety plays an expanded role in automated driving and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) connected environments – including built-in redundancies and cybersecurity. For example, advanced steering systems like Steer-by-Wire and High Availability EPS can ensure the steering safety net is always on. In addition to safety, intuitive motion control takes on new meanings in automated driving and EVs because the human connection – or “feel of the road” – is different than what people are used to in traditional ICE vehicles. This is why motion control expertise and the user experience will continue to take on even greater complexity and importance as mobility quickly evolves across many different use cases. As OEMs reinvent entire platforms in the shift to electrification, this may also speed-up market introduction of new advanced safety and performance features as OEMs want to leverage this opportunity to introduce new technologies on EVs.
Q: How important is infrastructure to the expanded use of ADAS? Could the condition of the nation’s roads limit how quickly we can roll out certain features?
Milavec: What’s great about ADAS technologies is that they can be used to increase safety and performance for drivers in all driving conditions – including on roads with potholes, ice, and other hazards. As infrastructure grows to support increased vehicle connectivity, this will create additional opportunities for advanced ADAS technologies, such as steering-safety features. For example, in V2X environments, Nexteer and Tactile Mobility’s Road Surface-Detection Software enables vehicles to evaluate signals from the steering system, brakes or other chassis components to determine road conditions and identify potential hazards, such as icy or wet roads. These signals then can be communicated to trailing vehicles via the cloud to warn them of an upcoming hazard.
ABOUT THE PANELISTS
President, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) & Executive Board Director
As president, CTO and CSO of Nexteer, Milavec is responsible for spearheading the company’s strategic direction and ensuring technology-roadmap alignment with industry megatrends to proactively capture growth opportunities. Nexteer is a global-leading, motion-control technology company that’s accelerating mobility to be safe, green, and exciting.
DR. MASSIMO VENTURI
Executive Vice President, Automotive Electronics
As the head of Eberspaecher’s automotive electronics business, Dr. Venturi is responsible for global product development, manufacturing, purchasing and sales of electronic components for automotive applications.