If we believed cartoons and sci-fi films from back yonder, 2022 would be a world rife with automated flying cars, beyond-comprehension tech capabilities, and a fully-digitised world replete with true AI and AI robotics - take The Jetsons, for example, a kooky cartoon comedy from 1962 that imagined life in the future.
While this imagined world is still a fair way off in the future, many companies around the world are researching, integrating and assessing digital technology’s role in autonomous processes, such as driving, in order to realise this technologically-astounding predicted world of the future.
Dr. Hans Beck, autonomous driving advisor and Coordinator of Data Science and AI at DXC EMEA, is particularly interested in the ways AI can revolutionise and propel the development of self-driving cars and autonomous driving solutions. This is especially true in the wake of the global pandemic, which saw a quick turnaround of innovation to speed up machine learning and AI processes across everyday applications. For many businesses, this period turned into - or spurred on - a complete digital transformation.
As digital transformation continues to drive change in the automotive industry, Beck added: “I think the industry realises how AI changes everything. Car companies have shifted from assembling parts for their suppliers to become software development companies themselves. One of the biggest changes is with the major manufacturers transforming to focus more on software-driven development and processes. Not everything is around the vehicle anymore. It's more around the software which is in the vehicle. So that needs big changes in the thinking and approach of car markers. It requires a radical shift in how they develop and organise themselves.”
Innovating across vital areas of automotive technology
Autonomous driving (AD) refers to self-driving vehicles or transport systems that move without the intervention of a human driver. AD has the power to transform the sector and prompt major shifts within the technology stack and the customer experience inside the vehicle. It’s one of the top discussions regarding future mobility.
Experts have defined five different levels in the evolution of autonomous driving.Each level describes the extent to which a car takes over tasks and responsibilities from its driver, and how the car and driver interact:
- Level 0 - No Automation – where the driver controls the car without any support from a driver assistance system
- Level 1 - Driver Assistance – the vehicle has at least one driver support system such as steering assistance or braking and acceleration assistance
- Level 2 - Partial Driving Automation – this applies to vehicles with advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) that can take over steering, acceleration and braking in specific scenarios
- Level 3 - Conditional Driving Automation – the jump from Level 2 to Level 3 is significant from a technological perspective. Level 3 vehicles have ‘environmental detection’ capabilities and can make informed decisions for themselves, such as accelerating past a slow-moving vehicle
- Level 4 - High Driving Automation – this level does not require any human interaction in the vehicle’s operation because it is programmed to stop itself in the event of system failure, however, a human still has the option to manually override
- Level 5, Full Driving Automation – the final stage means a vehicle can drive itself everywhere in all conditions without any human interaction
Luxoft enables automakers to innovate across vital areas of advanced automotive and mobility technology. Combining the agility, energy and speed of a startup with the reach, positioning and manpower of an enterprise, it delivers highly complex solutions, at speed, in critical environments.
Head of Autonomous Driving at Luxoft, Karsten Hoffmeister, said: “Many global car makers are facing increased competition from the disruptors, newcomers and changes in the market. They’re redesigning their organisations and shifting strategies towards digital-first and software-first topics. They compete for automotive software talent. At Luxoft, we solve these problems by helping OEMs accelerate into real software companies.”
Providing automotive manufacturers with autonomous driving solutions
Luxoft Automotive offers a wide range of expertise, spanning across AD, connected mobility, digital cockpit, UX, testing and validation, and silicon and technology.
Its AD solutions give automotive manufacturers and their key suppliers the ability to focus their product development and business on the needs of their customers. These solutions support the most critical development domains — data-driven development, in-vehicle embedded software, car virtualisation, and system design and validation.
The company creates, integrates, tests and checks in-car series software for multiple sensor ECUs and systems. The teams also design and deploy HPC software for fusion, perception, environment-model and ADAS/AD driving functions, plus end-to-end network architecture and service-oriented middleware.
“We’re a unique company by offering this end-to-end service. You equip your vehicle with measurement equipment to collect data and then you ingest the data into a data centre, into the backend and into the cloud. Then you process the data and create something out of it: Algorithm-based driving functions for example, or AI-based perception, object detection, and things like that. It’s there that we have our strong in-vehicle knowledge within Luxoft – we work on the embedded part and help in implementing complex functions. We also help test these functions, virtually and in the vehicle” commented Hoffmeister.
DXC’s Robotic Drive; data-driven development, virtualisation services and platform de-risk and accelerate the complete ADAS/AD development process to support Level 2+ through Level 5 autonomous functions. It leverages on-premises and cloud infrastructure, methodologies, tools and accelerators for a highly automated AD development process.
The importance of the cloud in autonomous driving
Data and the cloud are key in the development of AD. An autonomous vehicle (AV) processes the data it receives from various sensors to make a driving decision and this needs to be stored somewhere.
With Luxoft’s connected mobility solutions, customers are able to establish hybrid cloud environments, extend existing assets, migrate applications and employ modern development methods.
The solutions’ data analytics capabilities make it possible for customers to collect, process and manage large amounts of vehicle data in real-time and help shape new services.
“The cloud is really critical and none of our autonomous driving engagements work without it. We have recently announced a strategic partnership with AWS and the cloud provides us with the flexibility, scalability and reliability that our customers need in all areas of autonomous driving,” said Beck.
One of the key benefits of cloud computing is the opportunity to replace infrastructure expenses with low variable costs that scale with your business. With cloud computing, users can access all of the features and files of the system without having to keep the bulk of that system on their own computers.
“DXC really has a strong partner network and we have partnerships with all hyperscalers. Our collaboration with AWS, for example, already starts before any project is contracted, where we advise our clients on the best solutions for the autonomous driving project. AWS has a strong automotive and autonomous driving team and it’s a pleasure to work with them. This not only happens in the design phase, but then also in the implementation phase of these autonomous driving projects, where we often have mixed DXC and AWS teams” added Beck.
Challenges facing DXC Technology and Luxoft in the next year
Reflecting on the past 12 months, Beck explained that as a company, one of the biggest improvements was the growth of their customer base.
“We started our autonomous driving engagements around six years ago with our first significant autonomous driving programme. But since then, we’ve really grown. I think there's barely any car manufacturer or tier one supplier that we're not engaged with” he added.
The progression of self-driving cars has excited public imagination and inspired unprecedented collaboration between carmakers and tech innovators. Recent autonomous vehicle forecasts call for sales of more than 30 million autonomous vehicles in 2040, according to Deloitte.
Commenting on challenges facing the company within the coming months, Beck said: “I think about the continuation of this growth of people and skills needed for autonomous driving and AI; that's a big challenge because the whole autonomous driving market is exploding. We need to manage this growth together with our partners and our customers.”
The continuing evolution of safety technologies is setting the foundation for developing intelligent software-defined automated systems capable of navigating roads with little to no human intervention.
“On the tech side, one of the biggest challenges in disruptive change is fleet-based data-driven development. This will require a lot of changes in the architecture for, staying connected, but also in the development process itself. And of course, the major step is towards autonomous systems. The key challenge is to technically implement all those things. The second challenge is changing the organisations’ way of working,” Hoffmeister said.