Visteon | General - Part 2

Q&A with Visteon Senior Systems Engineer Ivaylo Vasilev

Interested in finding out what our global team is like? Check out this Q&A with Bulgaria-based Senior Systems Engineer Ivaylo Vasilev.

1. Describe yourself in a few sentences.

I consider myself a highly motivated, adaptive and organized systems engineer with extensive interdisciplinary and multi-cultural experience. In my private life I love traveling, playing tennis and football, and spending time with family and friends.

2. What made you decide to work at Visteon? What gave Visteon the advantage over other companies you were considering?

For me, the most decisive factor was the team I knew I would join. During my first visit to the company, I met a lot of very talented people who put great value on teamwork. I believe this is the only way one truly excels at what they do – by reaching their goals while working in a great team. Another key factor was the scope of the position and field of work. For several years, I wanted to go back to working in the automotive sector, and my dream finally came true at Visteon.

3. You previously worked at Visteon, and then got international experience in Germany. Why did you decide to look for career opportunities in Bulgaria again?

I know one can develop professionally very well abroad, but after spending 12 years in Germany and Sweden I strongly believe in the simple saying: “There is no place like home.” When I realized I could also reach my professional goals in Bulgaria, it was a very simple and easy choice.

4. What are the primary responsibilities in your current role?

I am part of the systems engineering department at Visteon in Sofia, and my current role is senior systems engineer. The project I am currently working on is an instrument cluster for a well known and established German automaker. My main responsibilities include the development and maintenance of the product system specification, as well as the investigation of risk assessment and mitigation strategies in order to ultimately improve product quality. Moreover, I am in constant contact with all other areas of the business and the customer, in order to ensure that the customer technical requirements are understood, fulfilled and verified.

5. What is the best parts of your job? What do you enjoy most about working at Visteon?

I find it very exciting and challenging to work with sophisticated automotive components on a systems level. This helps me learn something new every day and develop constantly. Moreover, I really enjoy the dynamics of the systems engineer position. I am in constant contact with talented and ambitious engineers within Visteon and at our customers. All of these make working for Visteon a true pleasure.

6. What is something valuable you have learned by working at Visteon?

Perhaps the most valuable lesson I learned at Visteon is that a high level of professionalism and dedication ultimately lead to greater efficiency and great products.

7. What might surprise people about working in automotive electronics?

In general, people tend to underestimate the complexity of automotive systems, how crucial they are in our everyday life and the manpower needed in order to successfully develop products for major OEMs.

8. What is today’s biggest challenge in your work?

One of the biggest challenges in my line of work is the engineering complexity of the products we develop. A systems engineer should possess an excellent system-level understanding of the product, which in our case includes topics from software, hardware, mechanics and optics. Another key challenge I face every day is the efficient communication with external and internal stakeholders. Often one needs to achieve a fine balance in order to keep customer satisfaction high while complying with internal schedules and resources.

9. Do you have any career tips for others?

Do not settle at a position you are not entirely happy with. Keep saying “yes” to trying new things at work. Being outside your comfort zone will greatly accelerate your professional growth.

10. What would you say to someone who is considering applying for a job at Visteon?

I would say the work climate in the company is fantastic, and the possibilities for future development are excellent. If you join Visteon you will be at the forefront of automotive electronics research and development, and you will be working with a talented team who will make even the hardest chores at work seem like a lot of fun.

Innovating in the City of Cars with Dalpreet Saluja

Visteon’s Associate General Counsel and chief IP counsel, Dalpreet Saluja, was recently featured in Profile Magazine to give his take on the complex field of automotive electronics IP law.

“Ever since I can remember, I’ve had an interest in new things, new technologies,” explains Dalpreet Saluja. “I wasn’t a tinkerer, I didn’t build things, but I was always interested in what tech does, how it works, what its purpose is.”

As associate general counsel and chief IP counsel for automobile technology company Visteon, Saluja oversees all the IP concerns for the nearly $3.2 billion company, from patents to trademarks, open source, copyright, litigation, transactions and more. “Anything that relates to IP for the company falls under my responsibility,” Saluja explains. It’s that interest that sustains him and keeps him passionate in his IP work, allowing him an opportunity to learn about new automobile electronics technologies that are happening three or five years down the road.

Saluja’s current passion for IP law is partially borne from his background in computer science, which has frequently interwoven with his primary line of work. Starting his career in the public sector as a patent examiner for the U.S. Patent Office, Saluja sees this initial work as a solid foundation for the rest of his career – he got to see the ins and outs of how the patent office works, gaining a solid grasp of the rules and processes behind patent law. From there, he worked at IP boutique Brooks Kushman and automotive electronics firm Harman International Industries (acquired by Samsung Electronics in 2017) before settling into his current role.

Read the full article featured in Profile Magazine.

Deep Reinforced Learning: Addressing Complex Enterprise Challenges

Current deep learning algorithms and methods are nowhere near the holy grail of “Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).”

Current algorithms lean more towards narrow learning, meaning they are good at learning and solving specific types of problems under specific conditions. These algorithms take a humongous amount of data as compared to humans who can learn from relatively few learning encounters. The transfer process of these learnings from one problem domain to another domain is somewhat limited as well.

Recently, reinforcement learning (RL) has been gaining popularity compared to other deep learning techniques. The buzz around reinforcement learning started with the advent of AlphaGo by DeepMind. AlphaGo was built to play the very complex game of Go. The essence of RL is that it can train models through the interaction with the environment and learn and calibrate from their mistakes. Learning happens through a delayed and cumulative reward system where an agent deduces an action, which then acts on the environment to make a state change. The agent takes the next best action based on the optimized delayed reward. The system retains the learning and recalls the best action when a similar circumstance arises.

Read the full article by Visteon’s CIO, Raman Mehta, on DZone.

CES 2019 – Visteon CTO Markus Schupfner talks about the company’s latest technology for the digital, electrified and autonomous cockpit

In this Q&A with Just-Auto, Chief Technology Officer Markus Schupfner discusses topics ranging from CES 2019 and Visteon’s autonomous driving solution to trends for curved displays and the digital cockpit of the future.

What is the headline message that you would like to put out here at the CES this year?

Visteon’s theme for CES 2019 is “Digital. Electrified. Autonomous.” – charting the evolution of the cockpit from the new electric/electronic architectures enabled by electric vehicles and ultimately autonomous driving when the cockpit will become a smart, learning, mobile assistant. We will focus on the how the interplay between cockpit and safety domain controllers are able to create a new user experience inside the digital cockpit and demonstrate an AI-enabled voice assistant, in-cabin sensing and new display solutions – 3D, curved and flexible – that combines to increase occupant confidence in the autonomous driving experience.

We will debut a first-of-its-kind digital cockpit solution for autonomous vehicles which will unveil the integration of the SmartCore™ cockpit domain controller and DriveCore™ safety domain, offering one integrated HMI experience. The cockpit represents the first cohesive, integrated digital cockpit using AI and machine learning to integrate domain controllers that run both cockpit displays and automated driving features. The interface represents the user experience of drivers and passengers as the vehicle seamlessly transitions from driver control through each level of autonomy, demonstrating how the vehicle takes control or gives it back. The featured autonomous capabilities include: highway pilot, traffic jam assist, self-parking and augmented reality.

Through the single driver interface, SmartCore™ independently operates multiple displays throughout the cockpit while the DriveCore™ platform delivers Level 3 and above autonomous driving capabilities by incorporating the hardware, middleware, and software toolchains required to implement machine learning algorithms. This enables reliable fusion of data from various cameras, LiDAR, radar, infrared and sensors both inside and outside the vehicle.

What does DriveCore offer that competing solutions can’t?

Current systems for autonomous driving are based on distributed electronic control units (ECUs) – which have specifically defined functionality or closed, centralized systems which do not scale – and do not offer an open platform for collaborative automaker and partner development. This demand for open architectures in autonomous vehicle development is driven by the need for increased collaboration between multiple developers to meet automakers need to differentiate.

The DriveCore™ autonomous driving platform is the first open and scalable centralized computing approach featuring sensor fusion, object detection and tracking, situation analysis and trajectory planning enabled by AI. It is designed to enable automakers and partners to easily contribute content for fast development.

DriveCore’s™ environmental perception model also incorporates advanced sensor fusion techniques for the highest level of accuracy and failsafe driving.

Centralised computing – using domain controllers – provides unprecedented flexibility, power and speed for handling the vast amount of sensors required for failsafe autonomous driving. Visteon’s DriveCore™ Compute hardware offers maximum flexibility through its unique modular design that on the A-sample level consists of a baseboard and three types of daughter boards:

  • A computation carrier, which provides the computation power and can incorporate any SoC the automaker wants.
  • A safety carrier, which provides ASIL D compliance, if needed, and an Ethernet extension board that allows connection of a multitude of sensors to the ECU.

Up to eight daughter boards can be stacked on one baseboard through Visteon’s unique connector system. As a result, DriveCoreTM Compute is scalable to enable all levels of automation – ranging from driver assistance to fully autonomous driving – in a very efficient and cost-effective way. Designed as an autonomous end-to-end platform, DriveCore™ incorporates three components: DriveCore™ Studio; DriveCore™ Compute and DriveCore™ Runtime:

  • DriveCore™ Studio is a PC Tool to simulate the interfaces and environment for algorithm development. It contains a rich tool suite for sensor data record/playback, visualisation, configuration, fusion, testing, comparison, configuration, validation and versioning. Here, we offer and enable open collaboration third-party providers.
  • DriveCore™ Runtime is a middleware and real-time environment to sandbox algorithms. It contains open APIs for algorithm development and functional safety support up to ASIL D.
  • DriveCore™ Compute is a scalable, modular and failsafe hardware platform catering for Level 2+ up to Level 4 autonomous driving.
  • DriveCore™ is unique because of its modular approach that offers the flexibility needed to design made-to-measure solutions for all levels of automation with exactly the computation power requested by the automaker.

What stage is DriveCore at in terms of commercial readiness?

DriveCore™ development started in 2016, leveraging the expertise we had established in cockpit computing – though SmartCore™ – which we extended to a concept encompassing scalable and fail-safe technology. During the start of 2017, we entered into the first common customer development agreement with GAC, a leading Chinese automaker, to collaborate on their next electric vehicle platform. At the start of 2020, we will have a start of production (SOP) ready system featuring Level 3 functionality with highway pilot and automated parking applications. At the end of 2020, we are planning to launch this system into production. In parallel, we are progressing development towards a Level 4 autonomous driving solution and are extending the functionality step-by-step with permanent re-design of the computing boards to enable the latest high-end computing power and performance.

To what extent can we expect to see more curved, OLED and dual displays in car cockpits?

The on-going trend in automotive is to incorporate more and larger displays, which are shaped, curved and offer high contrast. The demand for OLED displays is growing and Visteon’s new developments are successfully addressing this demand. In addition to OLED, new cockpit designs require curved cover lenses and additional integration of sensors and functionality, e.g. for driver monitoring and in-cabin sensing.

At CES 2019, Visteon will feature a range of new 3D and driver monitoring clusters as well as large, curved and flexible displays that will be the primary interface between humans and the vehicle in future digital cockpits. These include curved OLED displays providing rich, high contrast images on a par with mobile devices.

Fulfilling the growing market demand for OLED and curved displays, we will also demonstrate a new VX display platform – the Visteon eXperience – offering haptic feedback and proximity sensing; as well as smart displays featuring dimmable lenses and real 3D-displays.

How will the autonomous car change the look and feel of the cockpit?

In the autonomous era, the cockpit will become a smart, learning, mobile assistant and displays play a critical role in this evolution.  Larger, smart displays with curved surfaces will sweep the cockpit area to create an immersive experience for all occupants.

Visteon’s design and manufacturing capabilities are transforming the shape of vehicle displays with surfaces arching across the entire dashboard, incorporating photo-realistic color rendering and contrast, freeform shapes, flowing curves and slim profiles.

The new generation of displays also offer a deeper, more engaging user experience with integrated features such as haptics, force sensing, proximity sensing and knob-over-glass. We want to create an intuitive information experience that understands intent by detecting ubiquitous interactions, and responds in a visceral way.

Chief Technology Officer Markus Schupfner leads Visteon’s global advanced technology development, especially in the areas of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X), and autonomous driving, as well as product management of all Visteon products. Schupfner joined Visteon on April 1, 2016, bringing more than 20 years of experience leading software development for global automotive suppliers, primarily serving high-end vehicle manufacturers. He is based in Karlsruhe, Germany.

To read the full Q&A with Matthew Beecham, visit the Just-Auto website.

Visteon in Japan: Perspectives on the Future

By Yo Iikubo, Vice President, Visteon Japanese Customer Business Group

iikubo-yo-visteon-corporation-headshotThe power of innovation has become clear to me as we introduce new Visteon products and systems in Japan. It is particularly evident at our customer tech shows in Japan, where we acquaint individual automakers with our latest technology for new-generation vehicles.

The most frequent questions we address at these events are: What specifically differentiates Visteon’s products from those of competitors, i.e., what makes our products innovative? And, how does Visteon deliver new technology products that meet customer requirements for quality, cost, delivery, development and management (QCDDM)?

We spend considerable time with our Japanese OEM customers focusing on their particular interests. For example, Mazda, our largest Japanese customer and a longtime partner, values our connectivity master unit (CMU) for infotainment, as well as display technologies. Nissan and Mitsubishi are becoming more strategic customers with our instrument clusters, head-up displays (HUDs) and telematics. And we are working to expand our business relationship with Honda and Toyota around the world.

The greatest interest from Japanese customers centers on instrument clusters. Visteon leads the market in digital clusters, and our capabilities and new developments in displays and domain controllers have further attracted attention in Japan.

In fact, instrument clusters will be the biggest-selling Visteon products in Japan. We continue to invest in advancing these products and making them even more effective. At the same time, the Mazda CMU has been extremely popular, reflecting Visteon’s unique value proposition and QCDDM performance.

A bold and realistic vision

We have consistently presented a bold and realistic vision of cockpit electronics at our Japan tech shows, building on the evolution of the digital cluster. We have also emphasized the critical role clusters and displays will play in autonomous vehicles – helping occupants understand what the vehicle is seeing and doing, and monitoring drivers to ensure their readiness to retake control of the vehicle in certain situations. Because Japanese automakers produce and sell more than 80 percent of their vehicles outside Japan, they are especially sensitive to having a strong hand in the future of autonomous vehicles, the technologies that enable them, and the industry standards that will apply to them.

When considering our overall technology roadmap, Visteon must also remain aware of the features and requirements for the North America and China markets, where Japanese automakers historically have focused their product planning. Within a decade, Japan’s automotive sales to China will outnumber those to North America, so the voice of Chinese customers increasingly will help define new global requirements for Japanese automakers.

Overall, opportunity in Japan abounds. Japan has modernized roads, bridges, tunnels and railroads, and mobility within the Japanese islands is generally easy and efficient. Many structures are funded by tolls and government subsidies – some urban areas require maintenance and rural or desert areas require upgrades. Visteon can play a large role in helping car owners deal with difficult roads and bridges by offering driver information products fully connected to infrastructure updates, along with autonomous vehicles that intelligently avoid heavily congested roads and risky surfaces. Connection to real-time road information will play a significant role in improving the driving experience in Japan in the future.

Over the next two to three years at Visteon, I expect to see unique technology emerging around clusters, dimmable lenses, OLED, HUD and the SmartCore™ domain controller. We also anticipate a new infotainment product for the Mazda CMU. For Japan as a country, I hope to see Visteon’s DriveCore™ autonomous driving platform make a leap among Japanese OEMs over this same period.

Fueled by the power of innovation, I am very optimistic that the best days of Visteon in Japan are ahead of us.

Based in Yokohama, Yo Iikubo is vice president, Japan customer business group at Visteon Corporation. He is also the representative director and president at Visteon Japan Limited. Prior to joining Visteon in April 2017, Yo spent 24 years at Lear Corporation, where in his last six years he served as director of sales and business development – Japanese OEMs North America.

Yo has a BSE in materials science and engineering from Purdue University and a master of business administration from the University of Michigan – Stephen M. Ross School of Business.  

 

Collaborative Vision Essential to Automated Driving

Insights on the development of the world’s first Level-4 autonomous parking solution

Guest Blog By Anuja Sonalker, Founder and CEO, STEER

 

steer-guest-blog-anuja-sonalker-autonomous-parking-solutions

Many of the most popular technological developments in today’s global society have evolved from the inspiration of a single individual, company or breakthrough. Steve Jobs’ iPhone, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, Jeff Bezos’ Amazon all have been seismic innovations that have changed the lives of billions.  Advancement of automotive technology, however, rarely has resulted from the vision of just one person. Nearly universally, the vehicles of today and tomorrow represent a “quilt” of exceptional innovations from collaborators, such as those who most recently have come together to advance self-driving technology.

Over the past century, the collaboration of suppliers and manufacturers has been responsible for most of the innovation in our cars and trucks. Today, automated driving is so complex and nuanced that no one entity can resolve all the challenges it represents and be good at creating every aspect of the self-driving vehicle, so collaboration remains essential.

Collaboration and integration have become art forms in the automotive gallery, with a creative supply chain that has enabled the industry to keep up with consumer demand and preferences. Consumers want vehicles to keep pace with their lifestyles just as much as they want a tablet or an online marketplace to reflect their constantly changing needs and tastes. Automotive companies gain this timeliness through collaboration.

Collaborating on driverless parking

One successful example of such collaboration—and one close to my heart—is the work being carried out by Visteon and STEER, the company that I founded. STEER has created the first level 4 fully autonomous parking technology, which transforms everyday cars into driverless vehicles that self-park in designated lots.  This technology, activated by a mobile-phone app, lets drivers and passengers be dropped off at their destination; then the car takes over from the drop-off point, navigates and drives itself to a parking area where it detects an open available spot, and parks itself. When they’re ready to leave, they summon their car with the same app. It’s a complete solution that works with existing systems in vehicles and is cybersecure.

Creating this technology, however, is very different from finding a way to integrate it into current and future vehicles and ensure that it works as intended, every time. For that task, we collaborated with Visteon. A few years ago, I met Visteon President and CEO Sachin Lawande, and I was immensely impressed with his vision and his extreme focus on efficient execution, especially in relation to Visteon’s DriveCore autonomous driving platform. Visteon had very clear goals and sought out the right team members to pursue them. We were on the same page regarding how to conquer the automated vehicle market.

A success formula on a napkin

In 2016, Sachin and I came up with our formula for integrating STEER and DriveCore™, literally on a paper napkin. DriveCore™ was precisely the right technology for making STEER a practical automotive technology. Its high computational capabilities, robust systems and its ability to support more than 10 sensor channels with Ethernet connectivity are packaged in a very small unit. Moreover, DriveCore™ has enough power to integrate our valet parking system with autopilot technology. These two advancements could be developed independently and then be integrated seamlessly on DriveCore™. This results in a better value proposition for automakers – a bigger solution that is developed more rapidly.

During development, STEER and Visteon together addressed countless edge cases that make automated driving an infinite microcosm of slight differences among driving situations and driver reactions. DriveCore™ has all the features we need to exhaustively prove all the scenarios we must consider now and in the future.

My greatest surprise during this experience was how easy it was to collaborate with Visteon. It’s a large, global company, but one with no bureaucracy to get lost in. Visteon has promptly addressed every need as soon as we’ve identified it.

Our ability to bring STEER to market so quickly speaks to the success of this collaboration. Before long, STEER-equipped vehicles using DriveCore™ technology will roll out in Asia, followed by the U.S. and Europe.

What I have learned from this collaboration process is that, if you run a technology company, first you must focus on getting your niche problem right. Then you need to exceed expectations, and build and test the guts out of it. After that, envision the delivery vehicle for your product to go to market and approach the right partner.

STEER has used this process to transform our expectations into a transformative, practical technology for automated valet parking. We envision more great developments, collaborating with great companies like Visteon. Our next collaborative innovation is just one napkin away.

Anuja Sonalker, Ph.D. is the founder and CEO of STEER Tech, and has nearly two decades of experience in the automotive and cybersecurity industries. Headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, STEER builds products that enable autonomous features in mainstream vehicles, stimulate smart transportation and prevent automotive cyber threats. Dr. Sonalker oversees technology development, navigation of industry landscape and development of go-to-market strategies.

Prior to STEER, Dr. Sonalker was vice president of engineering and operations for TowerSec, an automotive cybersecurity company that was acquired by Harman International in 2016. She was also a project manager within the automotive security group in the cyber innovation unit at Battelle, where she led advanced research in vehicular environments and transition to market strategies.

Dr. Sonalker is currently the vice chair of the SAE Vehicle Cybersecurity Systems Engineering Committee and co-chair of on the ISO International Standard on Cybersecurity Engineering for Road Vehicles.

She holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland College Park, a master of science in computer engineering from North Carolina State University and a bachelor of engineering from the University of Mumbai.

SmartCore™ Hits the Road with a New Approach to Cockpit Displays

 

By Waheed Ahmed, Software Engineering Manager – SmartCore™ Chief Architect

waheed-ahmed-shows-visteon-smartcore-technologyBeginning this summer, vehicle cockpits around the world will become a lot more interesting. That’s when the first production vehicles from a German automaker will roll off the lot equipped with Visteon’s SmartCore technology.

In conventional automotive cockpits, technologies such as the instrument cluster, center stack, infotainment and telematics each are driven by a separate electronic control unit (ECU). SmartCore combines the functions of multiple ECUs into a single box, or domain controller, which ultimately may serve as the brains for every display function across the instrument panel and into passenger areas.

The SmartCore offerings will integrate the instrument cluster, a head-up display (HUD) and Visteon’s infotainment platform into a single domain controller. Visteon engineers already are working on integrating lighting, heating and air conditioning displays into near-future versions. By the early 2020s, SmartCore could be controlling telematics, advanced driver assistance system displays, augmented reality head-up displays, vehicle mirrors, surround-view cameras, driver monitoring and rear-seat entertainment — all from a single box.

Integrating control of these functions on a single ECU reduces signal latency, eliminates excessive wiring and saves considerable weight. The hardware can be used more efficiently, eliminating the need to duplicate interfaces for memory, display and video in separate ECU boxes. With new approaches from chip designers, SmartCore can generate more computing power to drive an expanded number of functions.

Visteon has incorporated exceptional security within SmartCore™. Downloaded data needs to be signed and authorized by the car dealer. Hardware security walls are built to prevent suspicious applications from intruding into the secure portion of SmartCore™.

A new reality for autonomous driving

SmartCore™ will play an important role in the transition to self-driving vehicles. When future cars are in fully autonomous mode, drivers will be able to take their hands and eyes off the road, shifting their focus to screens along the dash. They can view text, images and video there and interact with the screens, with all this functionality driven seamlessly by a SmartCore™ domain controller. SmartCore™ also will integrate input from cameras and other devices monitoring the environment outside the vehicle, so drivers and passengers can receive information about their surroundings.

In the future, augmented reality will be incorporated into the SmartCore™-driven displays, presenting avatars of people, objects and virtual creations outside the car to the occupants inside. Imagine how all this integration could change your GPS display in an autonomous vehicle, adding detailed information about your destination, images of nearby attractions, audio and video. Your music player expands from showing an entertainer’s album-cover art to presenting a full-motion music video. Eventually, video conferencing could be integrated into SmartCore™, and passengers could play SmartCore-controlled games.

Additionally, SmartCore™ could make cars and trucks even more secure by enabling vehicle tracking, remote immobilization, remote assistance and security for shared vehicles.

With the first SmartCore™-equipped vehicles about to hit the road, we’re embarking on an exciting new chapter in vehicle cockpit efficiency and integration. Watch this space closely – the story will continue to unfold as we approach the autonomous driving era.

Waheed Ahmed oversees software architecture development of future domain controllers at Visteon. He is focused on next-generation automotive cockpits and their role in autonomous cars. Ahmed has proven leadership and R&D experience in software systems, spanning more than 15 years. Prior to joining Visteon, he worked in the semiconductor industry as an engineer, architect, and scientist. Ahmed earned his master’s degree in computer science from RWTH Aachen University in Germany. He has published six international peer-reviewed scientific papers, filed six U.S. patent applications and authored a white paper on the fundamentals of domain controllers.

Visteon Makes Its Mark at New Proving Ground for Autonomous Driving

By Upton Bowden, new technology management

american-center-for-mobility-visteon-partnershipIf the world’s highways, local roads and city centers were all brand new with bright white lanes, sparkling signs, fresh concrete and protected pedestrian overpasses, most of us might be tooling around in autonomous cars and trucks by now.

But the real world has a way of deflating those expectations by populating cities and countrysides with potholes, confusing layers of repositioned lane markers, construction areas, broken-down vehicles, inconsistent entrance and exit ramps, and the occasional stray pedestrian chasing lost cargo.

The variety of situations that may confront an autonomous vehicle seems endless, but the automotive industry is tackling all of them, seeking to build algorithms that can manage any challenge that the vehicle encounters. To achieve this daunting goal, the algorithms and associated equipment must be tested in a realistic, flexible setting that can be monitored and controlled, so real highways and downtowns are not the best places to determine if an engineer’s latest software tweaks really do the job.

Fortunately, the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the University of Michigan, Business Leaders for Michigan and Ann Arbor SPARK have joined to create the American Center for Mobility (ACM), a full proving ground for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure testing, validation and education. The remarkable facility is under construction at the Willow Run site near Ypsilanti, Michigan, with its first phase opening on Dec. 11.

 

500 acres of tunnels, roundabouts and potholes

Visteon is delighted to be the first Tier 1 automotive supplier to become an ACM partner, investing $5 million in this nationally designated proving ground, one of only 10 across the United States. This world-class, non-profit facility is specifically designed for developing, testing and creating standards for autonomous vehicle software and hardware, with roadways that mimic real-life situations and the obstacles they can present.

Stretching across more than 500 acres, ACM preserves a mile-and-a-half portion of M-12, with its potholes and worn lane markings. It adds triple-decker overpasses, bridges and a 2.5-mile, high-speed loop. Workers also are constructing a 700-foot curved tunnel, two double overpasses, intersections, roundabouts and a complex pedestrian zone. It even will offer an urban canyon, with movable glass and steel walls that generate reflections and potentially block wireless signals.

Computer vision algorithms should not always look at brand-new pavement, so ACM has lines with older faded paint. Indeed, ACM can make lane markings disappear and add construction barrels or put debris on the road along with stalled vehicles.

At ACM, virtually any type of driving environment can be custom-designed for testing by the industry. We can test autonomous driving in a simulated rainstorm, where glare from the road can interfere with sensors. We can turn off the lights in a tunnel to imitate a power failure. We even can create a snowstorm without needing to wait for January in Michigan.

An ideal environment for perfecting DriveCore™ technology

Situated just seven miles from Visteon’s headquarters, ACM will serve as an ongoing base for perfecting Visteon’s DriveCore™ technology, an integrated autonomous driving controller providing a scalable, failsafe platform that Integrates advanced driver assistance systems through levels 3 and 4 of autonomous driving.

Visteon’s first autonomous vehicle will be on site for ACM’s Dec. 11 opening, so our autonomous team can test hardware, software, sensors—the entire setup—while controlling surrounding vehicles to reproduce an amazing variety of traffic situations.

ACM will be a great site for proving edge-use cases for computer vision in autonomous driving—those unusual situations that defy ideal conditions.

We are confident that ACM will help us more quickly validate the performance and safety of systems we are developing. Our proximity will be a huge advantage, as team members no longer will need to drive across the country to find certain test-case environments. Also, as a founding partner, Visteon can book the ACM facility in advance and permanently occupy a garage on the grounds.

We believe that this strategic investment in ACM will accelerate the development of our products and demonstrate our long-term commitment to autonomous driving systems, as well as our ability to move quickly to test edge-use cases.

The American Center for Mobility is an ideal, unique venue for making possible the safe validation and self-certification of connected and autonomous vehicle technology – helping ensure autonomous cars will perform reliably and safely on those unpredictable “real-world” roads and highways.

Upton Bowden oversees new technology management in the Chief Technology Office at Visteon. He is primarily focused on technology and approaches that enable autonomous driving and other next-generation mobility solutions. Bowden earned a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Wayne State University. He holds 14 automotive electronics patents and serves on the board of the Connected Vehicle Trade Association (CTVA). 

 

Artificial Intelligence Emerges from Data Rooms to Help Drive Autonomous Cars

By Vijay Nadkarni

A century ago, many large businesses ran their operations with rooms full of skilled clerks rapidly entering figures into a comptometer, a type of mechanical calculator considered very efficient for the times. After many decades, the comptometer proved too limiting for a rapidly advancing marketplace and was replaced by teams of data entry clerks feeding powerful mainframes. Technology continued to accelerate to the point where the calculating and data entry power of an entire corps of workers could be managed by a laptop. Today, apps have generated brilliant machinery and pocket-sized communications devices, thanks to innovative programmers and billions of lines of code.

In considering the challenge of autonomous vehicles, however, yet another level of technology will be required. Conventional programming and computational approaches to problem-solving will be far outpaced by the speed and complexity needed for automated driving.

The programming approaches for autonomous driving that are currently getting the lion’s share of attention – high-speed cameras, LIDAR and ultrasonic sensors – are unable to incorporate all potential driving scenarios while staying up-to-the-minute with traffic conditions, weather, construction zones and other driving issues. There is an approach, however, that will allow cars and trucks to learn and respond quickly and accurately to their constantly changing surroundings. That approach involves artificial intelligence (AI).

Artificial intelligence allows the vehicle to analyze in real time the massive amounts of data – gigabytes per second – received by its cameras, LIDAR and other sensors to avoid objects and plan the vehicle’s path. Applying AI in an optimal manner involves using neural networks for object classification and reinforcement learning for path planning.

Consumers already are bringing AI into their vehicles via their smartphones. Voice-based search engines and in-car navigation depend on a level of AI from off-board servers, and more infotainment systems are integrating connected features from outside servers that use AI in the background.

To manage an autonomous vehicle, engineers will need to transform AI from its typical location in a room full of servers for computer and Internet access to a self-contained location in the vehicle that, for the most part, does not need to depend on outside data connections. They also will have to solve the challenge of AI’s huge demand for power, resulting in heat generation that must be dissipated, contributing to higher fuel consumption.

Another area that needs to be addressed is which type of microprocessor will prove most efficient. Should it be a central processing unit (CPU), a graphics processing unit (GPU) or an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC)? Each has benefits and drawbacks in terms of power, performance and cost. This issue is complicated by the need to decide between a CPU, where all information is received and processed, and a decentralized system with several smaller processors. Both have value, depending on how the vehicle manufacturer wishes to establish the architecture.

To meet this demand, Visteon is developing a scalable autonomous driving solution applying AI – specifically neural networks and machine learning. This approach can support either centralized or decentralized processing and can greatly improve the accuracy of detecting and classifying objects in a vehicle’s path. This approach holds much promise for moving autonomous driving from a few real-world examples among a roomful of innovators to an everyday reality on our roads and highways.

Vijay Nadkarni is the global head of artificial intelligence and deep learning technology for Visteon’s product lines, including autonomous driving/ADAS and infotainment. He is based in Santa Clara where he has management oversight of Visteon’s Silicon Valley technology center. Vijay is a hands-on technology veteran whose current focus is machine learning, Cloud computing and mobile apps. Prior to joining Visteon, he founded Chalkzen, which developed a novel Cloud platform for vehicular safety.

Visteon – an Intern’s Point of View

By Courtney Schultz, Communications Intern

Internships are a great way to get a taste of the job field before graduation. Most academic programs require an internship to graduate; however, students usually don’t have time to commit to something more than part-time. Many of my peers in the public relations program at Eastern Michigan University chose internships that only required working 12-15 hours a week. But I didn’t want a cookie-cutter internship – I wanted something full-time where I could really immerse myself.

I wanted an experience.

After spending hours searching, I applied for a communications intern position at Visteon. I was intrigued to learn that Visteon is a Tier 1 automotive supplier and a technology company that is focused on cockpit electronics and autonomous driving. It sounded new and exciting to me.

I went through a two-step interview process – a phone interview followed by an in-person interview. I was especially nervous as this was my first-ever interview for my field of study. My nerves were put to rest during the in-person interview. Visteon had a casual atmosphere, open work environment, and I felt I really meshed with the people interviewing me. I left the interview hopeful, and later that day I was offered the communications intern position.

My tenure at Visteon began on May 8, and I didn’t know what to expect. I certainly never would have thought that I would truly immerse myself into the communications and marketing team. I have been incredibly fortunate to have supervisors who truly care about my growth and development in the communications field and who strive to foster an all-inclusive environment.

The summer has flown by in the blink of an eye, and these four months have been much more than an internship. I’ve had the opportunity to explore areas of communications and marketing that I previously didn’t consider “part of the job.” I’ve attended and participated in many meaningful events that have solidified my passion for community service and diversity.

The biggest project our team is undertaking this summer is the redesign of the company website, visteon.com. Over the years, Visteon has gone through a dynamic transformation. We’ve solidified our position as a technology leader. And our website needs to reflect this. From collaborating on site maps and graphics to drafting web copy and learning about workflows, I have been involved in every step of the website redesign process. And as a millennial, my input was not only requested, it was highly valued. We are working relentlessly to get the new site up and running soon; although I won’t be here for the launch, I’ll be on the lookout for the new site. I never would have imagined that I would be an integral part of such a big project.

This summer, I’ve also had the opportunity to host media. Last month, a reporter from Reuters, as well as a group of Chinese journalists, toured our facilities and interviewed our CEO. It was cool to see the feature videos and news articles that came out of those sessions that I helped coordinate.

Perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of my position was the numerous opportunities for community service. From playing bingo with sick children at the Detroit Children’s Hospital to working with Life Remodeled to clear blight in a Detroit neighborhood – I loved being able to help those who needed it. I had the opportunity to promote these events with photos, video and employee news articles. It was fun to watch the number of “likes” for my work add up on the company intranet!

The internship program at Visteon is a wonderful experience. It’s clear that a lot of thought and effort goes into planning it. This summer, my fellow interns across various functions heard from a LinkedIn representative, attended a Detroit Tigers game, experienced the Ford Rouge factory tour, and met with many company executives and employees who shared valuable insights.

While my time here is drawing to a close, the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met will remain in my memories forever. The opportunities I’ve had here are ones I will always look back on. I’ve grown tremendously since starting here in May.  I have gained confidence in my abilities and have learned so much.

For that, I’d like to thank every person at Visteon whom I’ve encountered who has truly made me feel a part of this company – not just an intern. It means so much to be truly valued and appreciated.

In the end, I got what I came for – that once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Courtney Schultz is a recent graduate of Eastern Michigan University and holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations. She received her associate’s degree in liberal arts from Washtenaw Community College in 2015. Following her summer internship at Visteon based in Van Buren Township, Michigan, she is moving to the state of Washington, where she will pursue a career in communications and public relations.