ITS World Congress 2014: CTO plenary session overview

GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda and suppliers discuss future of ITS



 The 2014 ITS World Congress was held from September 7 through September 11, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan, USA. At the World Congress, various organizations gathered to share and present the latest innovations in ITS technologies. As more systems are being developed and introduced, the transportation industry is making significant progress towards transforming itself for the future.

 This report focuses on a plenary session featuring technology officers from major automakers and suppliers discussing the impact of ITS implementation and challenges that need to be resolved prior to market introduction. A future report will highlight the exhibits and technologies shown at the 2014 World Congress.

Session: Visions of ITS in 2025
Company Speaker Title
Continental Mr. Ralf Lenninger Senior Vice President, Interior Electronic Solutions
Texas Instruments Dr. Ahmad Bahai Chief Technology Officer
Visteon Mr. Tim Yerdon Global Director of Innovation
Ford Mr. James A. Buczkowski Director, Global Electrical/Electronic Systems Engineering
Toyota Ms. Kristen Tabar Vice President, Toyota Technical Center
Honda Mr. Frank Paluch President, Honda R&D Americas Inc.
General Motors Mr. Jon Lauckner Chief Technology Officer

Related reports: ITS World Congress 2013 Tokyo

Autonomous driving technology beyond reality?

Toyota & Honda demonstrate autonomous driving

"Connected vehicle" becomes a new form of safe driving

Delphi CEO raises questions regarding possible barriers to progress of ITS

Mr. Rodney O’Neal, Delphi Automotive CEO
Mr. Rodney O'Neal, Delphi Automotive CEO

 The CTO plenary session for the 2014 ITS World Congress opened with the CEO of Delphi Automotive, Mr. Rodney O'Neal, bringing up several issues which would need to be addressed before full autonomous driving could become commonplace. These questions focused on overarching themes that would be brought up throughout the plenary session and the World Congress itself.

 One of the first questions which Mr. O'Neal brought up referred to the balance between the need for safety versus the demand for connectivity. Due to advancements in technology, vehicles can now house devices such as navigation systems and infotainment displays, and can also connect to a user's smartphone for additional features. However, as more devices and functions become available in cars, the risk for distracted driving increases. Additionally, increased connectivity in vehicles leads to increased vulnerability to cyber-attacks, another issue mentioned by Mr. O'Neal. Thus, dealing with threats to a vehicle's systems is a need that should be addressed before ITS becomes widespread.

 Another theme mentioned in Mr. O'Neal's opening speech involved the need for ITS infrastructure. Specifically, Mr. O'Neal asked what type and how much infrastructure would be needed to support varying levels and volumes of autonomous vehicles. While certain technologies can operate independently on vehicles (such as cameras or obstacle sensors), others require the support of other devices (such as V2I systems). The issue lies in knowing how much and what kind of infrastructure is needed to gain value from autonomous vehicles.

 The ideas of value and cost were also discussed by Mr. O'Neal. One question that he asked was how long would it take for fully automated vehicles to become affordable. If a large percentage of the public is unable to access autonomous vehicles due to their high cost, then the societal impact of the technology is greatly diminished. Mr. O'Neal also questioned where all the funding to pay for ITS would come from. Consumers, private companies, governments, other entities, or some combination were mentioned as possible parties who would need to pay for the advancement and acceptance of the technology.

 Finally, concerns were expressed regarding policies that would be needed to implement ITS. For example, legal policies would need additional clarification with respect to autonomous vehicles. Currently, all legal issues regarding vehicles are based on the assumption that there is a human driver operating the vehicle. With the possibility of autonomous vehicles, that assumption can no longer be universally applied. Other policy issues that were presented included how insurance would be affected by ITS and what kind of government legislation would be needed for automated testing.


Suppliers find new opportunities as ITS advances

Plenary session panelists. From left to right starting from podium: Mr. Jon Lauckner, Mr. Ralf Lenninger, Dr. Ahmad Bahai, Mr. Tim Yerdon, Mr. James A. Buczkowski, Ms. Kristen Tabar, Mr. Frank Paluch, Moderator: Mr. Jeffrey Owens.
Plenary session panelists. From left to right starting from podium: Mr. Jon Lauckner, Mr. Ralf Lenninger, Dr. Ahmad Bahai, Mr. Tim Yerdon, Mr. James A. Buczkowski, Ms. Kristen Tabar, Mr. Frank Paluch, Moderator: Mr. Jeffrey Owens.

Continental: Mr. Ralf Lenninger opened his presentation by stating the belief that, "The best way [to do business] is to solve problems." The company looks to use ITS, specifically the "Internet of Everything", to prevent the problem of traffic collapses. The "Internet of Everything" refers to a system where all devices are interconnected in some fashion. In order to accomplish its goals, Continental formed collaborations across various industries with Cisco, IBM, and Nokia HERE and assumed the role of systems integrator for the connected car. In terms of financial impact and incentive, an estimated USD 14.4 trillion of total value will stem from the "Internet of Everything" over the next nine years, providing a significant business opportunity for Continental.


Texas Instruments: Dr. Ahmad Bahai emphasized the goal of making vehicles and the transportation system smarter. One trend that Dr. Bahai noted in correlation of this goal was the accelerating pace of change in technology and automotive electrification. Examples can be seen in the growth of connected cars, from 9 million in 2010 to an estimated 24 million by 2016, or by the fact that there are now over 8,000 semiconductor devices in the average car. With the advances in semiconductor technology feeding back into the development of intelligent systems, the growth of the semiconductor market is essential to the progress of ITS.


Visteon: Mr. Tim Yerdon's presentation focused on the opportunity and impact provided by the "Internet of Things" (equivalent to the "Internet of Everything" mentioned by Continental). For example, out of an estimated USD 30 billion in revenue produced by automotive connectivity in 2018, hardware will only contribute an estimated USD 5 billion. Furthermore, USD 20 billion in revenue is expected to be derived from services. Big Data is expected to provide USD 150 in value for a vehicle per year. Mr. Yerdon concluded with the idea that the "Internet of Things" has the potential to change the market, but only if companies can present it in a form that consumers will accept.



ITS achievements give OEMs chance to realize goals for transportation system

Ford: Mr. James A. Buczkowski presented a variation of Henry Ford's vision of "opening the highways to all mankind" in the form of "connecting the highways to all mankind". In order to accomplish this vision, the development of a "network of solutions" was proposed, where an individual would be able to seamlessly navigate through various transportation options to reach a destination. This network would consist of systems such as V2V, IT infrastructure, and vehicle management systems and would be driven by data. Ford believes that being able to gather, manage, and analyze the data provided by connected systems is the key towards advancing ITS. However, due to the variety of systems and the volume of information involved, collaboration will be necessary between all parties in order to realize this goal.


Toyota: Ms. Kristen Tabar's presentation described the goal of a future without any traffic casualties through the use of systems that connect people, vehicles, and the driving environment. The company hopes to utilize advancements in ITS to expand its "Integrated Safety Management Concept", which considers various stages of the driving experience, from a parked state to pre-collision and post-collision scenarios. Technologies are developed for specific stages revolving around degrees of safety, from risk avoidance and risk reduction, to collision mitigation and injury mitigation once an accident occurs. Toyota believes that advancements in connected and automated technologies will expand its vehicle's safety capabilities in risk reduction and avoidance.


Honda: Mr. Frank Paluch highlighted various ITS technologies and their impact, to fit with the company's focus on products that are "clean, safe, and fun". Similar to Toyota, one of Honda's goals is achieving a collision-free mobile society. Mr. Paluch related an anecdote regarding how Honda's Lane Keep Assist technology helped improve his daughter's driving. Other safety technologies mentioned included autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian avoidance systems. ITS Intersection Assist, which helps drivers navigate smoothly through traffic lights, demonstrates Honda's emphasis on clean and fun technology. Honda's main goal of a collision-free mobile society will be supported by progress in ITS.


General Motors: Rather than discussing the impact, utility, or opportunity of ITS technologies, Mr. Jon Lauckner gave several predictions regarding the capabilities of ITS by 2025.

  • ・Vehicles will have autonomous capabilities for highway use.
  • ・Vehicles will have at least partially autonomous capabilities for specific urban driving scenarios.
  • ・A "significant percentage" of US vehicles will have V2V capabilities.
  • ・Vehicles will have V2P capabilities which can identify and avoid pedestrians and cyclists with cell phones.
  • ・Vehicles will have high volume and high speed integrated connectivity, allowing connections to a smartphone, home, or place of work.
  • ・There will be a "massive" acceleration to develop and implement infrastructure for ITS.


Q&A focusing on needs and impact of ITS development

Q: What is the level of computing power necessary to support the advancements in ITS by 2025? How can advances in semiconductors advance ITS?
TI: While processor power has been doubling every 18 months, this exponential trend is impossible to maintain forever. However, as the number of sensors in the car increase, more power will be necessary. A combination of hierarchical processing, more efficient sensors, and improved links between sensors will be the key to provide the power needed.
FO: Processing power will be important, but the usage of algorithms and software will also be needed to advance ITS.
GM: While more processing power is necessary, the cost of processors and sensors must decrease in price in order to be implemented in vehicles. Also, vehicles need sensors and processors designed specifically with automotive characteristics in mind.


Q: What impact does connected vehicles and ITS have on product development?
FO: As the car becomes more connected, there will be more collaboration needed both within and outside the company. Additionally, it is envisioned that product development will shift from being component-focused to being systems-focused. Systems engineering will be needed to find optimal solutions to provide the best value for the customer, which will require cross-discipline focus.
TO: In order to expand the reach of systems, they need to be merged to see where overlap occurs. Systems engineering is gaining a bigger focus at Toyota.
HO: The current methods of development must change. Current development methods emphasize quality, durability, robustness and safety of systems and anticipate how customers use the vehicle. Connected vehicles open up an infinite amount of change points that companies need to react to in their development cycles.


Q: Will ITS transform the business model for automakers or suppliers?
VI: Visteon currently sees three speeds of business model development, one speed based on hardware, one on software, and one on connected services. As the current state of business models are focused on software, new business models in the future will be developed focusing on connected services. Connected services will require collaboration between both automakers and suppliers to find business models and opportunities.
HO: Due to the unpredictability of the market, there needs to be opportunities for flexibility. The traditional dependencies between automakers and Tier 1 companies will not always be applicable. Companies will need to find emerging technologies and then find some method or partner to scale up.
CO: The basic business model of automakers selling cars and suppliers providing components will not change. The addition of new companies from other fields entering the market (such as Google) and new customers using cars in new ways (such as Uber) will introduce new business models.


Q: In a few words, what is the biggest benefit of ITS technologies and the biggest barrier to implementing ITS technologies?

Company Benefit Barrier
Continental Improving the planet Cross-industry collaboration
Texas Instruments Improved safety, productivity, and quality of life Current: Costs
Future: Adoption of technologies
Visteon Pervasive connectivity Acceptance and integration
Ford Safer, smarter mobility experiences Efficient collaboration
Toyota Safety and sustainability Consumer acceptance
Honda Collision-free driving Standards
General Motors Cars that don't crash Cost


Q: Who owns the data for connected vehicles?
FO: The customer owns the data, but it is the responsibility of companies to inform and show customers the value of sharing that data. Transparency is also important when managing data.
VI: The consumer owns the data, but the challenge lies in updatability of systems using the data.
CO: There is a large difference between the internet industry and automotive industry as it relates to data. The internet industry focuses on the importance of a company's private data, while the automotive industry prefers to have data generated by their customers to supplement their business.


Q: Will standards and regulations lead or follow market implementation of ITS?
GM: There are certain existing regulations and standards that are fine for current active safety technologies. However, for concepts such as interoperability (making sure vehicles from different companies can communicate), collaboration is needed to form new standards before product development.
TO: Standards are necessary to ensure quality and reliability. 
TI: One of the issues regarding standards and regulations is the need to minimize them to avoid time delays associated with bureaucracy and standards committees.


Q: ITS technologies tend to be introduced in more expensive cars, whose audience tends to be older and less technologically oriented. Why not introduce ITS technologies in less expensive models directed towards younger drivers?
GM: GM isn't targeting age groups so much as it is targeting specific buyer types. Luxury car buyers tend to be those who want the newest features and gadgets, and are willing to spend money for them. New technologies, including ITS, also tend to be expensive to integrate into vehicles at the outset. Thus, companies will focus first on buyers most willing to pay for the new technologies, before increasing scale and making improvements which will reduce cost.
VI: All of the products that Visteon creates are based on a platform. After initially winning a bid with a new technology, the next discussions that take place involve understanding what architecture the technology is using, and discovering ways to spread it to other vehicles.
CO: Generally, the spread of new technologies is driven by maturity and scalability. However, ITS technologies, such as V2V, are developing at a rate faster than it can be widely introduced. Thus, the industry needs to find a way to shorten the introduction cycle of new systems.


Q: Who will manage the greater network handling V2X communications?
HO: The government will play a role, but cannot be the only organization involved. The most likely outcome would involve a consortium of industries working alongside the government to manage such a network.


Q: In what year will a commercially-viable, driverless vehicle be available?

Company Year
Texas Instruments
Far beyond 2025
Far beyond 2025
Far beyond 2025
General Motors
Far beyond 2025

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