Today, all the food, clothing, and shelter that form the basis of our lives are undergoing changes, and the biggest change can be said to be the infrastructure revolution from offline to online. Some companies are looking for business expansion by taking advantage of the trend toward digitalized society, but simply placing content on the WEB will not result in business opportunities. It is no exaggeration to say that the success or failure of this digital transformation, which is indispensable for online support, will affect the future of companies. While e-commerce is revitalizing and logistics companies are attracting attention while self-restrained life is required during the coronavirus disaster, in these industries as well, improving the efficiency of QCD management by utilizing the cloud and creating a sustainable new business model is necessary. If you can't do it, it will be difficult to manage your business, and you may end up consuming up your company's valuable management resources unnecessarily.
On the other hand, security risks are rapidly expanding due to the acceleration of online access, and improper response to this problem may induce information leakage and privacy problems, resulting in a decrease in corporate value. For this reason, it is an issue to build a platform that is easy to use and has high robustness that is compatible with [SDGs(Sustainable Development Goals)-Goal9] in order to support online enterprises. In order to see this as a business opportunity and expand our own business, it is necessary to accelerate the introduction of cutting-edge software platforms (edge / cloud cooperation, cross-platform support, etc.) through collaboration with IT vendors in securing our core competencies.
Cars taking a hint from consumer devices?
Conservative development styles still remains in the automotive industry, and there are several obstacles to implementing the agile development models and DevOps needed to create cutting-edge software platforms. Behind this is the tier-type (pyramid) industrial structure with the automotive manufacturer (= OEM) at the top, and the interfaces and data definitions between devices are adopted by each automotive manufacturer. As a result, there is a situation that independent and unique specifications different from the modern IT industry standard are distributed. In addition, it is necessary to consider functional safety, security, real-time responsiveness, etc. in the in-vehicle system, and there are often restrictions such that the standardized general-purpose interfaces or algorithms cannot satisfy the in-vehicle requirements. However, standardization of parts in vehicle design and development is a top priority for ensuring competitiveness, and the introduction of a vehicle common platform is already in progress at the hardware level. As a result, the competitive area is moving toward an area closer to user experience, and there is a demand for the provision of hardware-agnostic solutions similar to mobile phones.
The most important thing for business players involved in application development and service development is the software development environment. In mobility, a digital twin integrated environment that meets in-vehicle requirements is required, but as mentioned above, the automotive business structure is taking a pyramid approach with OEM at the top. Since each company's device has been differentiated, building an integrated environment that can be used across OEMs is a major challenge. However, industrial structural changes are taking place toward the realization of autonomous driving and mobility services, including promotion of standardization, which is the basis of next-generation in-vehicle software platforms, and so collaboration with new players such as IT vendors have begun.
Evolution of automotive value propositions
Behind the accelerating collaboration between the automobile industry and IT vendors for mobility services is the need for automotive usage to provide dynamic support that cannot be achieved with hardware alone. Taking the IT utilization of digital logistics systems as an example, the logistics industry, especially home delivery, is suffering from a serious shortage of drivers. On the other hand, there is data that 87% of Japanese consumers want to receive goods and service at home, and there is no end to satisfaction with services such as high shipping costs, too short receiving time, and too early redelivery deadline. Behind this is the problem of highly uncertain movement and redelivery due to absence of Drivers. In addition to the static information used in such navigation, if there is dynamic information such as weather, human behavior, and traffic information, more efficient delivery will be possible, and it will result in cost reduction and the reduction of shipping charges. Providing services that utilize such big data cannot be realized with hardware alone. Software that can be linked with the cloud is required, and the introduction of IT into automotive systems is now an issue.
Sustainable software development and introduction of modern IT
In-vehicle systems in the future will be required to develop "Long term-value sustainable software" and to support "Advanced IT integration". The phrase “Software first” has become a trend, but design and development have become inseparable, and software design is to be central to system development. Isn't it a demand of the times that cars are not just robust hardware, but software-like entities that can respond to changes more flexibly? However, software is not a perfect medicine and cannot solve all our technical problems. It is necessary to build a system in combination with hardware that can fully handle the use cases. Effective utilization of accelerators is indispensable.
In particular, effective use of hardware IP (such as accelerators) is indispensable to meet performance requirements of a commercial product. In this way, software and hardware are combined as one. Renesas' connected car strategy aims to provide an efficient R-Car development environment that can support the in-vehicle DevOps environment that can utilize modern technology while taking advantage of the characteristics of robust hardware. For this, we would like to strengthen the technical support structures for customers by utilizing the ecosystem through our “R-Car Consortium” partner program. Now, one key item is the presence of a leading IT vendor in the ecosystem.
Collaboration with IT vendors for next-gen vehicle computing platforms
Renesas has been working with IT vendors from a very early stage to develop an automotive system environment in order to play a role in bridging the cloud world and the in-vehicle world. We are developing solutions with IT vendors such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft, to build an execution environment for cutting-edge connected car applications that supports cloud-edge collaboration with short turn-around-time. Below are two collaboration cases:
1) We announced a simulation environment for developing AWS-linked applications compatible with digital twins.
It was historically difficult for software developers in the IT industry to develop in-vehicle applications. Additionally, application development under difficult conditions is also required for actual vehicle testing, and Renesas packaged a vehicle data generation simulator, vehicle data management reference environment, and Vehicle API and connected it to the AWS cloud.
2) We announced that the R-Car Starter Kit has become available as a development environment for Microsoft's Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform (MCVP), a platform for the mobility industry.
It's a platform that mobility companies accelerate the delivery of digital services across vehicle provisioning, two-way network connectivity, and continuous over-the-air updates of containerized functionality. And it allows customers to develop software in the cloud or on a PC, and then install it on an R-Car SoC to perform verification before implementing it in applications for vehicles or embedded mobility device.
The above features lower the threshold for programming. Since introducing the latest web application development method, it is possible to develop applications for connected cars even if you are not familiar with the unique development environment of in-vehicle applications. By utilizing this development environment, it is possible to develop more personalized user applications that can be quickly linked with the latest cloud services to launch new solutions immediately.
In today’s environment where all “things”, including cars, are networked and connected to the internet, Renesas works to embody our customer requirements and ideas with a goal of creating flexible and dynamic automotive solutions. We will further strengthen our technical solutions and support to maximize value together with our key partners.