Market drivers for automotive technology development in ADAS: Regulatory changes and consumer demands
IAV Automotive Engineering, Inc.
The auto industry is going through a rapid change period, especially in the area of Advanced Driver Assistant Systems (ADAS).
Once reserved for luxury vehicles, features such as Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Automatic Parking Assist (APA) systems are trickling down to mainstream models. For example, Automatic Parking Assist system was once an expensive (roughly $3000) option in the Lexus LS400. Now, it is a $395 option on some mainstream Ford vehicles.
There are mainly two factors driving these technology developments: regulatory changes and consumer demand.
First, regulatory mandates have been one of the main driving forces behind technology development, or mass deployment of advanced technologies. Some of the examples are seat belts and airbags for passive safety, catalytic converters for emissions, electronic stability systems (100% by 2012) and tire pressure warning systems (100% by 2007).
One of the major regulatory changes for passenger vehicles in recent years was the mandatory back-up camera on all new passenger cars starting in 2014. Legislated by congress in 2007, automakers were required to outfit at least 10 % of their cars with backup cameras by 2012, 40 % by 2013 and 100 % by 2014.
The back-up cameras were estimated to increase MSRP’s by about $200 for new vehicles without display screens. This requirement has not been mandated yet as another delay was announced in January 2013. A probable reason for the lack of “push” is because NHTSA believes that the auto industry is already heading the direction and decided not to impose another regulatory burden.
A similar trend is also observed in Europe. Euro NCAP is a voluntary vehicle safety rating system that is now accepted by the European Commission, many governments and consumer organizations in Europe. Modeled after the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), introduced 1979 by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Euro NCAP publishes safety reports on new cars, and awards ‘star ratings’ based on the performance of the vehicles in a variety of crash tests.
In 2010, Euro NCAP launched a reward program, “Euro NCAP Advanced” to promote development and adoption of advanced safety technologies. Euro NCAP Advanced encourages, or “rewards” auto makers by recognizing those who make available new safety technologies with proven benefits. As of 2013, the following technologies have been selected: Blind Spot Detection, Lane Support Systems, Speed Alert Systems, Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Attention Assist, Automatic Emergency Call (eCall), Pre-Crash systems and Vision Enhancement Systems.
Autonomous emergency braking
One of the notable technologies in Euro NCAP Advanced reward program is Autonomous (or Automatic) Emergency Braking. The basic premise is that AEB will detect imminent collision and brake automatically even if the driver fails to do so.
While AEB is a great feature, one should also consider the other side of the coin: what if the car with AEB starts braking when there is no object in front of the vehicle? Questions like this are handled by a recently adopted process called ISO 26262, “Road Vehicles – Functional Safety.”
Derived from functional safety for electric and electronic systems and its adoption accelerated by Toyota’s unintended acceleration incidents, ISO 26262 is a functional safety standard, strictly for series production passenger vehicles.
The standard, which is embraced by the auto industry (instead of being imposed on the auto industry by the government), provides a defined process that aims to address possible hazards caused by the malfunction of electronic and electrical systems.
This set of frameworks covers functional safety aspects of the all development process in automotive electronics systems from requirements specification, design, implementation, testing, verification, and validation.
The second important driver for technology development is consumer demand. Unlike the demands created by regulatory, however, consumer demand is notoriously hard to predict and changes very fast. While, in 2004, BMW became the first OEM to provide iPod connectivity from the factory, the auto industry is still struggling to keep up with demands from consumers, especially in mobile electronics.
Younger car buyers
Manufacturers have no choice but to listen to this new generation (Generation Y, or Millenniums) since they are now coming into the prime car buying age. They are also used to a fast change cycles in consumer electronics (typically 6 months) while the auto industry still operates on 4-5 year development cycle. Therefore, by definition, new cars hitting the showrooms will have already outdated infotainment systems.
In terms of younger generation of car buyers, there are more problems. Instead of valuing the car ownership as their parents did, , they place a lot more importance in having latest mobile devices.
For previous generations, a car meant freedom: go wherever they want whenever they want. In contrast, with advancement in Internet technology and social networks, virtual contact has diminished the need for physical contact with people they care about.
The combination of stricter rules to get a driver’s license (such as Graduated Driving License) and lack of easy access to driving lessons (no more drivers ed in high school due to budget cuts) has made driving less exciting and less of an life’s event than it used to be.
According to research from the University of Michigan, while nearly half of 16-year-olds had a driver’s license 30 years ago, only 28% do so in 2010.
The challenge for automakers is to have seamless integration of mobile devices and internet connectivity since, in many younger people’s view, cars should be rolling mobile devices. Otherwise, more people will lose interest in cars all together.
The IAV Group was founded in 1983 in Berlin, Germany as an independent automotive engineering-service provider to act as a development partner for mostly OEM and Tier 1 customers. Today, IAV is one of the largest engineering-service providers in the automotive industry and employs more than 5,000 people globally. IAV is an ISO 9001 certified company that serves North American customers from its technical center in Northville, MI.