A highlight of Mentor Graphics’ annual IESF event in Detroit is an industry overview by Paul Hansen, editor and publisher of The Hansen Report on Automotive Electronics.
At this year’s event Hansen stressed the importance of software (“Of all the ingredients that comprise the vehicle’s automotive electronics, software is by far the most important”), innovation in Silicon Valley (“…where carmakers are going to find the app developers who will come up with the next great innovations in entertainment and the mobile experience”), over-the-air software updates (“carmakers can’t defend against cyberattacks without the ability to frequently update their vehicles with the latest cybersecurity software. Plus, the economic benefits are substantial”), and much more.
“A number of the world’s major carmakers, including BMW, Mercedes, Renault-Nissan, Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota and GM, are developing highly-automated driving features that will let drivers turn their attention to things other than driving when they are on expressways,” Hansen told IESF attendees. “Highly automated driving is slated for 2020, but it must be accompanied by the ability to do over-the-air updates. Control algorithms will need to be frequently updated once the vehicles are on the road and carmakers begin to collect and analyze real-world performance data.”
According to Egil Juliussen, automotive technology senior director and analyst at IHS, by 2020 one-fifth of new production, or some 26 million vehicles produced globally, will have the ability to accept software updates over the air, either by embedded modems or brought-in devices.
The Most Confounding Challenge
“Among all of the challenges facing carmakers, none are more confounding than the challenge of building defenses against cybersecurity attacks,” Hansen said. “The auto industry is very aware that today’s vehicles are not well defended against cyberattacks. Tomorrow’s vehicles, with multiple wireless connections to the cloud and the world outside the vehicle, will be even more vulnerable.” He added that the industry is currently scrambling to understand the threat and find solutions.
“Carmakers worldwide are considering how automotive hardware and software must change to look for and protect against intrusion and harden connected vehicles against cyberattacks. Those changes are likely to impact many parts of the electrical and electronic system starting with vehicle architecture,” Hansen said. “Still, there will be no cybersecurity without the ability to provide over-the-air software updates to vehicle control system ECUs.”
Hansen concluded, “Companies who are looking for big problems to solve should consider investing in automotive cybersecurity, a fast-growing market segment that will be around for a long time.