The future of automotive innovation and the ability to move with speed is reliant on High Performance Computing (HPC). With the world of mobility shifting to software-enabled products and services, and the need for processing multiple sources of data at once, managing massive amounts of computing quickly is imperative. HPC provides critical lifesaving tools for the future of the automotive industry. Having HPC capabilities is the foundation for accelerating autonomous vehicles and connected car technology, reframing the design process, automating and accelerating testing and launching new functionality. Today, every OEM is using HPC in some form.
With autonomous vehicles, success relies on robust 5G networks paired with dynamic cloud architecture. Autonomous vehicles require complicated technology using multiple sensor systems that simulate a range of external conditions like road conditions, other vehicles or unexpected obstacles. Without HPC, there is no way to accelerate the data-intensive process of the vehicles’ response systems.
Connected car software provides the ability to use data to create better predictive and preventative maintenance tools and other experiential services like infotainment, convenience mapping and parking services. With the ability to implement HPC at scale, exponential adoption and the ‘always-on’ high-speed reliability of the services build trust through safety and value and thus generate loyalty. It enables a personalised experience and builds the foundation for customer lifetime value. With the connected car, OEMs can differentiate their brands to rally around customers’ evolving expectations.
HPC fosters the ability to render a model quickly, create prototypes remotely and design virtual crash tests. No matter the vehicle type, the opportunity for dynamic collaboration across skillsets, experiences and geographies is not only a cost saver but also a way to elevate the product and test new ideas and safety without requiring the hardware and physical space.
Across new product and services development—whether a new plug-in hybrid vehicle, electric vehicle (EV) or combustion engine—all vehicles have software that is taking over the driving experience and using HPC for ongoing innovation, efficiencies and testing. A new way of working is emerging in the industry. The notion of the plant floor will change. Although there will always be the physical components of a vehicle’s hardware, now there will be software engineers constantly retooling the functionality of the vehicle.
New vehicle launches will no longer be every few years and many model year changes will happen throughout the lifecycle of owning the vehicle. This means each OEM today needs to transform its organisation into a product mindset and move away from waterfall projects. Teams will need to be de-siloed and multiple functions will work hand-in-hand to create the constant evolution of the product and services.
HPC provides critical lifesaving tools for the future of the automotive industry
Test-and-learn will be the underlining impetus for speed and innovation. This new approach will engage a dynamic and compelling workplace that attracts and retains innovative and visionary talent. It all sounds easy, but it’s not. It requires a commitment to new ways of working that go beyond being nimble and agile. The focus needs to be on outcomes, not milestones, with the customer at the centre at all times.
Services will become true drivers of profitability and in many ways offer the potential for greater margins and market share. Building businesses that no longer rely on the physical project but elevate brands into platform businesses will change the landscape of the automotive industry. HPC is the key enabler of the brand becoming a true platform.
What are the risks?
As autonomous, connected car and software-enabled mobility become more prevalent, consumers are more sceptical about how their data is used. OEMs need to show that they are creating the governance and tools to protect consumers all while innovating their products and services to consumers expectations just as they did with safety in the 1930s.
The supply chain is most susceptible to potential cyber attacks with multiple layers of third parties touching data throughout the entire supply chain. Ultimately, the software inside and outside the vehicle are at risk. Governance will need to be tailored regionally but built consistently across the entire world and must not require each OEM to invest heavily in building its own bespoke tools. Although each OEM and mobility player can create competitive differentiation, there will be a high bar for data integrity and management that consumers and industry players can trust. If not managed at the industry level, it will impact innovation and remove the value of having HPC in their arsenal.
Smartphone and apps are updated multiple times in a year, with at least one update on a typical phone or tablet occurring daily. The complexity of vehicle software updates poses many risks, with timing and safety being paramount. HPC can provide the tools to determine how and when to make updates, but the dangers still exist. Updates cannot be made when the vehicle is moving, but how does a standing vehicle know when it will be moving? What if the updates do not work and paralyse the vehicle from working? Gaining consumers’ confidence that they can receive new functionality and be safe at the same time will also need some level of governance by the industry. Entire road infrastructures could fail if software updates on even a few vehicles are not timed right or fail to work.
The future of HPC in Automotive
The future of the automotive industry relies on the ability to leverage HPC. Without it, the cost to serve customer expectations will be too high and make the move to autonomous vehicles slow and unimpactful. The industry will need to adopt new ways of working and develop global rules for managing and storing data, testing vehicle and software safety, and ensuring infrastructure consistency and confidence.
To do this, OEMs, start-up electric and autonomous vehicle companies as well as technology companies venturing into mobility, will need to create new ways of working focused on constant product evolution and connectedness across their enterprise.
HPC will help create the foundational infrastructure on which autonomous vehicles will live, and any product or service that touches that infrastructure will need to move in tandem with it
5G will play a key role as an infrastructure foundational element that will connect multiple systems and require new governance approaches at scale. Marketing and selling vehicles will be a completely new landscape, requiring dynamic pricing models and the ability to launch new functionality in existing vehicles on a regular cadence. Surprising and delighting the customer will be the focus while still being vigilant on safety and security.
HPC will allow more companies into the mobility space, growing the complexity of the supply chain and expanding the competition. Players that are quick to retool their entire businesses consistently will win in the space. Without HPC, automotive companies will miss the opportunity to capture market share and profit as new mobility features and functionality enter the market.
The complexity of HPC brings a new way of thinking and doing to the automotive industry. Brands can no longer rely on the look-and-feel of the vehicle and how customers feel when driving it; it is the entire experience that becomes integral to customers’ lives. HPC allows automotive brands to extend their connection to the consumer and react to behavioural changes in real-time and at scale.
HPC will help create the foundational infrastructure on which autonomous vehicles will live, and any product or service that touches that infrastructure will need to move in tandem with it. The future of mobility relies on HPC and full-scale adoption across the automotive industry.
Alyssa Altman is Senior Vice President, Transportation & Mobility at Publicis Sapient