What could be the next big building block, topping the 3 open ecosystems for innovation & new brains for smarter cars? Transformers, of course 🦾. Seriously, what could be a key enabler for SW innovation to make cars smarter at scale? Of course Cybertron 😅, a virtual world enables 10x speed on smarter car development. For passengers stay for the good old day, where no change, no break, this is your stop 😉.
Still, reading? OK, let’s consider how to make cars smarter by rolling out changes/innovation quicker. But why is that not happening for cars? Especially how difficult it can be to just copy from a decade of smartphone innovations? In short, the car industry has been mature & slow for decades. More specifically, it’s too costly, difficult & complicated for anyone to make a car smarter by SW.
- An infotainment device or self-driving car can easily cost 10x more than a smartphone. Not to mention a long time to build & a bigger space to host. The entry barrier is just too high even for a big player if to scale. It may be a necessity for carmakers, but it’s not app/service developers because they can always find other profitable playgrounds. After any business needs to have a reasonable Return on Investment to sustain, one way or the other 😉. For example in the smartphone app ecosystem, it’s viable to build mobile device labs to boost development productivity at scale, such as Facebook’s. Good luck if you need to build a car test lab or “parking lot” at scale 😭.
- It’s more difficult to validate SW whenever a device is involved. Which reduces the development productivity & scalability. It’s even worse if you need to work on proprietary devices. Because it takes special knowledge expertise & efforts to keep them running. Also, don’t forget to multiply by the number of updates. Consequently, the development velocity is much lower. Therefore, I understand why carmakers have been doing “waterfalls” for decades. Adapting agile methodologies will help for sure. But how to make it works by making it easier for developers will be the key “secret sauce”.
- The complexity goes beyond the SW changes on cars. In a smarter car universe, 3 more moving parts come into play: connected services, datasets & real-time changes in the user environment. For an open ecosystem to prosper, different players need to innovate at their paces & hopefully still play nicely with others. Which magnifies the complexity further.
Driver Journey Simulated Reality Universe
To remove those physical limitations, a simulated real-world may be the answer. What if there is a platform for everyone to plug-and-validate their changes in device, app, service & datasets? Even better, what if each entity can have pure SW doppelgängers? Which can come into the play just like “the real entity”. Everyone can create a universe to validate their dev/beta/production… doppelgängers whenever & wherever they need. Therefore it’s quicker to roll out innovations with confidence.
Note, this is less about simulation in a virtual world, even though that’s a good complement. But, it’s more about digitizing the real-world events & interactions to drive & validate system behaviors & interactions by the standard metadata format. So the ecosystem can replay or re-choose test-drive, dog food & user-reported records at scale to reduce validation cost & time. If to scrape the surface, check out Realistic Simulated Model For Testing And Development A Vehicle.
Bonus: as the platform serves more players & jobs, it can then create & facilitate a marketplace for SW entity services, datasets & scenarios. Which can accelerate the virtuous cycle by expanding the scope, driving higher fidelity & substituting more validations in the real world.
But How 🤔
Mckinsey suggests: adopting virtualization for the car development process can bring competitive advantages: lower validation cost, better product quality & higher customer satisfaction. Why only focus on HW, especially “virtualization” literally means SW defined. Also powering more innovations by SW is the quickest way to get smarter. As we talk craze/think bigger for tomorrow, anyone can start small by virtualizing bits and layers in their infotainment & self-driving systems today. So the industry can get smarter every day 😀.
The opinions stated here are my own, not those of my company. They are mostly extrapolations from the news. I don’t have insider knowledge of those companies, nor an EV expert.