Delphi is a leading supplier of vehicle connectivity. Its expertise ranges from infotainment systems through Advanced Driver Assistance (ADAS) systems to semi-autonomous driving technologies. Vanessa Scholfield, editor of just-auto’s QUBE Connected Vehicles service spoke to Glen W DeVos, Delphi’s Vice President Engineering, Delphi Electronics and Safety and Global Director of Engineering, Infotainment and Driver Interface PBU, to discuss the latest trends and developments in the market and Delphi’s involvement in this rapidly expanding sector.

The connected car market is evolving rapidly and encompassing a broad range of technologies and applications. How does Delphi scope the market and what are the main market segments today?

Glen De Vos, DelphiWithin the more traditional market for connectivity we have the early telematics systems such as OnStar and other embedded modems which have historically been centred on safety and security services. Now these systems are moving more towards ADAS and are evolving from e-call and other low technology systems for basic functionality. Now the market covers not only in-vehicle connectivity but also vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and Delphi is operating in this market as well as in the infotainment sphere.

There is an industry debate on the future for embedded versus brought-in connectivity within the vehicle. What is Delphi’s view on how this will play out?

We see a future for both approaches but with some differences depending on the vehicle segment and individual vehicle manufacturers. Embedded systems will expand and continue to do so as carriers develop contracts that are more flexible. This will make it more practical for the vehicle platforms. Historically brought-in systems, such as e-call or OnStar, had no connectivity for apps and relied on the telephone. The current approach is much more dynamic and the phone is used in the car as an enabler for connectivity to many vehicle platforms where cost does not support the embedded system. The advantage is that the customer has a much greater ability to personalise the system and have access to apps of his/her choice. This channel is the most dynamic in terms of how it will operate in future. All ADAS systems will be embedded whereas infotainment will continue to be offered via both embedded and brought-in technology.

Are there any new applications for this technology that are emerging?

Diagnostics is one of the latest applications to be offered to consumers through in-vehicle connectivity. However, in a new development in the US Delphi has recently launched an aftermarket diagnostics service in partnership with Verizon Wireless stores. The mobile app, Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi, will troubleshoot and monitor customer’s vehicles from a smartphone or computer. This service is available in the US and will be launched in Europe at the IAA in Frankfurt in September and into the European market in 2014.

What do you see as the future for embedded and brought-in systems?

In order to assess future prospects we have to look at the vehicle segment. In the premium and luxury segments the embedded approach will expand. These are typically found in Audi, BMW, Cadillac’s, Lexus and up-scale Volkswagens and Toyotas. Embedded technology provides the most reliable and robust connection/service that one can get. The demographic of drivers in these segments is such that they may not be using all the technology on offer and may not be as tech savvy as younger drivers. On the other hand, at the entry level brought-in technology has strong market demand as it allows users to bring in content and functions without spending the money that embedded systems demand. In this segment the embedded system is likely to be confined to e-call and similar services only. The approach adopted by the vehicle manufacturers will vary and we expect it to continue to be a vehicle manufacturer mix. As costs for embedded systems come down some car companies will have more embedded systems than others. Delphi supports both approaches and can move between them as the market demands.

Are there any geographic differences in this regard between North America and Europe? 

It will likely be a broadly similar pattern on both continents. The contracts in Europe are slightly more favourable towards embedded systems as users can bring their own SIM into the car and are more flexible.

Legislation is being mooted with regard to driver distraction and the use of connected technologies in vehicles. How do you see this panning out?

At present the industry is being guided by guidelines drawn up by the likes of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These guidelines will evolve and be updated as we move forward. We see this as very much work in progress. The industry takes it very seriously and we all work together to ensure we address the issues as they arise. One of the major challenges concerns the use of cell phones. In the US there are regulatory differences in both states and counties and a high degree of variability between them. In Europe it tends to vary by country. These variations pose a real challenge and our job is to find the best approach that works seamlessly with the vehicle interfaces. These may be the screen or Head up Display (HUD) that can be controlled by existing technology such as voice activation, SIRI etc. Ultimately, the responsibility lies with the driver but if they do not have seamless connectivity in the vehicle they will use the phone and this is to be avoided where possible.

Cyber-security of connected systems is becoming a real issue. What is Delphi’s view on this and how it will be addressed?

As connectivity expands cyber-security will become an important issue both in terms of control of the vehicle, e-commerce and how to protect the customers personal data and information. In general we are addressing this by building firewalls around the connected functions. In particular we will protect safety critical functions, e.g. ADAS, and isolate them through firewalls and gateways to the control point. There are mechanisms being put in place for this but as connectivity channels expand, to WIFI, near field and short range communications, we will need to further develop the science for dealing with security issues. There are industry-wide projects in place for this and software is being developed for such high security systems.

In terms of Delphi’s technology offering what are you looking at for showing at CES 2014 in Las Vegas?

We are looking at the convergence of safety and infotainment systems. We have the V2V and V2X technology and robust platforms but what we need to understand is the user experience and its implications for active safety systems.  One of the challenges is how to seamlessly integrate active safety. In this regard we are already offering semi-autonomous parking systems and adaptive cruise control etc, and are working on how you ensure a good user experience when all this technology is employed? Just adding technology is not necessarily a good experience. We will be showing how we bring all this together in the MyFi – Connected car at the IAA in Frankfurt in September 2103.

The market is moving towards autonomous driving and many of the systems needed for this are already in place. How do you see this market developing?

We see this market developing from the current position to fully autonomous driving but in the mid to long term. It is unclear how fast the market will develop, or when it will be fully developed, but we expect rapid adoption of sub-sets of technology. These will be pulled ahead in the short term to the next model year, or even current model year. Examples include lane keeping assist, valet and self-parking all of which are accelerating into the next development cycle – 3- 5 years ahead. As this happens they will require support from other systems and need an array of systems around them. We will also see more and more of the technologies required for increasing autonomy offered on the market and integrated into the vehicle. Delphi provides a wide range of sensing technologies, including RADAR, vision and ultrasonic systems, as well as our RACam system, which combines RADAR and vision sensing in a single, highly integrated module. Our ability to bring these together is where we have a real advantage. We will bring together controllers for individual systems such as body, safety and infotainment into multi-domain controllers. As the market develops the challenges become greater. How we make all these systems work together is the biggest challenge and Delphi is one of the few suppliers that has all these capabilities and the ability to offer the full solution.