2022 Auto Industry Trends & Predictions: Edge Computing

Chris Clark

Feb 15, 2022 / 5 min read

This article was originally published on WardsAuto.

Headlines on how the semiconductor shortage has affected the automotive industry are in no short supply. The global shortage that began in 2021 impacted the manufacturing of many different consumer products, especially vehicle manufacturing. While automotive manufacturers have rolled back their production in the past year due to decreased demand in early 2020 (and a reversal of that demand later in the year), a booming used vehicle market, and supply chain challenges caused by COVID-19, this short-term setback will lead to positive change as we look ahead.

Automotive designers and OEMs are going to be looking at different ways to accelerate the development and manufacturing process to shorten the overall release cycle so that more time can be spent designing solutions that need to be highly customized. Read on for five key predictions on what’s coming down the road for the automotive industry in 2022.

Aerial Highway

1. More Edge Computing Power

As we advance in autonomous vehicle capabilities, more compute power is needed at the edge. This compute power is needed to accommodate the wide range and volume of sensors and devices necessary to perform specific aspects of autonomous driving and accommodate driver amenities. By providing this compute power at the edge, overall processing is accelerated and overall data throughput on the vehicle’s network is reduced. However, there will be even more compute power moving to the central core of the vehicle as fifth-generation consolidated computing platforms start to become more prevalent. Today, the typical vehicle uses what we would call a third-generation computing platform where there is a central gateway, and all the electronic control units (ECUs) are connected via various networks. In the fourth generation (which some vehicles are already using), there is a central domain controller that manages all the interactions throughout the vehicle. Eventually, we’ll see a fifth-generation system that runs on a highly redundant computing platform as well as a network that can process and move larger amounts of data more quickly and utilizes technologies that we would typically attribute to a high-performance computing environment.

As we move toward this fifth generation (likely to be introduced late this year), there will be more consolidation of ancillary services and systems-on-chip (SoCs) that are typically spread throughout the vehicle. In that central compute core, we’re going to see fewer SoCs that contain multiple computing core as well as specialized cores that can be segregated and used for virtualization to provide services to the vehicle that typically would have been provided via a dedicated microcontroller (MCU) or a dedicated ECU.

2. Automotive Cybersecurity Will Become More Integrated into Automotive Organizations

Last year, we predicted that 2021 would be the year of the automotive standard. This year, auto manufacturers are going to be asking a lot of the important questions around how to implement these standards, specifically ISO/SAE 21434, which includes security management, project-dependent cybersecurity management, continuous cyber security activities, associated risk assessment methods, and cybersecurity within the product development and post development stages of road vehicles.

Recently, SAE started a new working group called the Cybersecurity Maturity Model that helps organizations map the activities and processes that they may already be implementing to the requirements of the ISO/SAE 21434 standard to leverage existing programs and processes. As organizations mature, the next step is to look at it from a metric standpoint. How do we as an organization collect and measure metrics that show the organization’s progress over time and ensure that cybersecurity practices are continually evolving and addressing new threats?

In 2022, organizations need to prioritize cybersecurity and weave new activities into their established programs. The work coming from SAE’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Task Force certification authorities are going to help automotive manufacturers and OEMs improve their overall cybersecurity program.

3. Digital Twins Will Become More Prevalent in Automotive Design and Testing

The need for digital twin technologies in the automotive industry will only increase in 2022 as customized processors and more software is managed and delivered through the automotive software pipeline. Consider a brand-new ECU that is coming into play. System architects need to answer many questions about it, such as: how does it operate, what is the packaging, and when can software start to be tested on it? The hardware required to start software testing can take months, if not years, to be ready. When a digital twin is available, that time shrinks dramatically. As designers are developing the next iteration of hardware design, they can model it in a digital twin version and make it rapidly available to software developers. Digital twins will help organizations increase the pace of software development and drive innovation on how they test and deploy software, especially for vehicles that are already on the road.

4. The Electric Vehicles Era Begins in Earnest

It is very likely that 2022 will be the tipping point where we start to see electric vehicles (EVs) become mainstream. Consumers will soon be able to choose from multiple lines of electric vehicles by different manufacturers. OEMs will introduce models that cover a wide spectrum of needs, from lower-end, entry-point EVs to high-end EVs that have all the capabilities of cruising, extended range, traditional driver aids, smart capabilities around autonomous driving, highway driver assist, high driving automation, etc. Manufacturers are starting to nail down what consumers are really looking for in their vehicles along with solving technical challenges, such as material availability and cost of manufacturing.

Consumers will also start to see some brands that have not typically been associated with EVs become more prevalent, as well as new brands coming from startups that are trying to get ahead of the curve in the global market. The EV market has a lot of players and it will be very interesting to watch EVs become common.

5. Cars May Start Move Away from Individually Owned Vehicles

Will group-owned or fleet-owned vehicles become more of the norm versus individually owned vehicles, especially in high-density metropolitan areas? Consumers who buy into this model have access to a vehicle that they can schedule or call on-demand and receive in 30 minutes or less. We have already seen many organizations and startups provide this type of solution, but there is a lot of room to grow and understand what consumers are looking for in this market segment. The result will depend on many factors, including how consumers perceive potential COVID-19 (or other pathogen) transmissibility within a shared vehicle over the next 12 months.

Ultimately, auto manufacturers will bring innovation and creative problem solving to the table in 2022 to address challenges caused by the supply chain disruption, economic effects of COVID-19, changing consumer preferences, new cybersecurity standards, and the need to develop sustainable options. Vehicle technology is evolving and becoming more sophisticated than ever before. Manufacturers are delivering on smarter, safer, and more environmentally friendly choices for consumers.

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