At Autotech Council’s biggest meeting of the year, members and guests meet experts, see demos, and review startups in each 4 major innovation segments in automotive: CONNECTED, AUTONOMOUS, SHARED & ELECTRIC.
Silicon Valley, California, April 6, 2023/Meeting Recap/ The Autotech Council held our biggest meeting of the year in April on the subject of CASE – the Connected, Autonomous, Shared, and Electrified car. This meeting is larger since we also invite our friends in the Telecom Council who are actively involved in the Connected part of the equation. In this year’s meeting, we allocated an hour to discuss each of the four categories, generally starting with a 30-minute panel, and ending with 4 startups active in that category.
But we kicked off the meeting with an analyst presentation from Alex Oyler, of SBD Automotive. Alex led the group through a 20-minute speed run of what makes a Software-Defined Vehicle, how it’s the ONLY smart way to think about car production today, and how the ideas of CASE are interwoven throughout this concept of a modern vehicle. This was a brilliant presentation in which Alex alternated between slides with data, and slides that illustrated the inter-relationships between CASE. Alex also covered how the auto industry has found that partnerships are the only sane way to navigate the required pace of innovation.
In each of our for segments, the panels offered insightful perspectives within each of the CASE segments, but put together, the lesson was that each of the letters in CASE is a trend in itself, but a trend that is a catalyst for the other three letters. Each one blowing wind in the others’ sails and increasing the rate of change in the industry.
What were some of the other most interesting take-aways?
Connected: Car connectivity is definitely about connecting the car to Wide Area Networks, often via Wi-Fi or cellular. But it’s also now about connectivity within the car, or “at the edge” as the telco industry calls it. What are the protocols and connectivity solutions inside the car, how much data gets sent within, and what gets filtered and sent up to the cloud? We also heard about the services and the business models that a connected car can have. Subscriptions? In-vehicle infotainment? Absolutely.
Autonomous: The autonomy section spent a good deal of time talking about “operational domains” and how the way to succeed with autonomy was to constrain the domain, moving through the autonomous levels only as you gain mastery of the prior level. We distinguished between self-driving (no driver at all), autonomous vehicles (augmenting and sharing roles with drivers), and high-performance ADAS. We were especially happy at the level of emphasis the panelists and startups offered to the issue of safety, both inside and outside of the vehicle.
Shared: This panel discussed how car-sharing has evolved, and should now be thought of as a spectrum of ownership. On one hand, you have a fleet of vehicles (like ZipCar) that the users can share, and on the other extreme you have fully private cars. The spectrum in the future will run between those, with some private cars offered up for sharing, some larger fleets run by carmakers, and smaller fleets run by private equity. These also run across many vehicle types, from trucks, to cars, to bikes and more. Among the key enablers are digital solutions and connectivity: software-based keys, GPS and location. But also some brick and mortar services like cleaning, refueling, maintenance (but these can also be automated, to take the hassle off the vehicle owner).
Electrified: While our electric startups were all about hardware for EVs, our Electric panel was very much about the software that can enhance the EV ownership experience. With range anxiety and charger availability as inhibitors to EV adoption, our panelists explained how the problem can be solved with a bigger battery OR smarter batteries. That is, Big Data and ML can be used to give far better predictions of EV range, so users will know exactly what to expect from their car, even if it’s cold, there are hills, or a big headwind. Meanwhile, improved BMS systems can extract the most performance possible from a battery pack, while extending its life and improving it’s safety. The panel essentially discussed getting more out of the same size battery.
In summary, this was a big meeting with a lot of big ideas. We could easily have dedicated an entire meeting on any one of the letters, but by putting them together in a single meeting, it emphasized the interaction among the four categories, and how they blend into this concept of a Software-defined car that we heard about from our opening analyst. A huge thanks to all the contributors to this CASE meeting - to Analog Devices for hosting, our expert speakers for their insights, and to the companies who introduced their innovative propositions as part of the rapid-fire pitches.
As always, members can access all of the presentations from our CASE meeting in the member-only presentation library.