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.