IRVINE, Calif.--Back-up cameras seem almost quaint today, even
though the technology is just moving into the mainstream automotive
market. That's because there's a sense that technology is catching
fire really quickly in automotive design and not just at the high
Earlier this year, as we steered the Volt through the sunny southern
California climes on the Drive for Innovation, we pulled into
Broadcom and convened a panel of automotive experts to get their
perspective on what's going on in the industry.
Two big take-aways:
Open standards are helping quicken the pace of automotive
They're giving OEMs are car manufacturers an opportunity to
move their R&D dollars into new and exciting areas.
The 34-minute panel -- featuring Ali Abaye, Richard Barrett, Yongbum
Kim, and Tim Lau -- is embedded below, but what follows in the text
are some highlights with links to the segments within the videotaped
panel where they expounded on an idea or question.
First off was our discussion of ethernet, which is rapidly becoming
the de facto networking backbone in automotive designs. This has
implications not only for reducing cabling weight in an automotive
design but allowing design engineers to leverage the standard to
plug in ethernet-ready services inside the car, according to Abaye (1:29-6:50),
who is senior director of marketing, networking infrastructure.
The question arises, then, is this the type of solution, given the
relative low cost of an established technology such as ethernet,
that might get proliferated quickly from high to low-end vehicles? (6:55)
We then asked Barrett, who is product marketing director for
wireless connectivity in the automotive sector, what trends he is
seeing; the biggie? Wireless LAN leveraging the smart phone as the
control device, Barrett said (starts
at 9:21 and runs to 14:42). Barrett went on to
describe how the expected completion of the 802.11ac wireless
standard will affect automotive design (startsat 10:31). The big application? Personalization
of the car.
Driverless cars are getting a boost from ethernet
but more so from wireless communications. You have microseconds
improvement in the ability of a car to respond.
Passive to active safety
In fact, if you take into consideration that the automotive design
cycle is 5-7 years, engineers at this very moment are designing driverless
systems that will be introduced in model years at the end of the
decade, according to Kim, who is senior technical director at
Broadcom for automotive (17:00-20:00).
senior product line manager for automotive ethernet, dived into designs that are happening now especially the shift from
passive safety to active safety (20:01-21:25).
fact, at a higher level, the automotive industry is about to enter a
period of explosive innovation, according to Lau (starts
Perhaps the biggest impact we will see in the coming years
is how the adoption of technologies such as WiFi and ethernet will
free car makers to focus their R&D in other more pressing areas,
Abaye said (Starts
But all this automotive electronics innovation may have a downside
for drivers, according to Kim, who acknowledges that he loves to
drive; he helped close our panel with a funny observation: (Starts