Designing Digital Cockpits for Sensor-Equipped Vehicles

Aug 25, 2021

There has been a lot of evolution happening related to networking-connected, sensor-equipped vehicles. Global carmakers are today competing to design the next-gen digital cockpits with an array of advanced features. Cockpits are getting redefined since advanced safety features are getting added to the cars to achieve full autonomy. Cockpit electronics has become very important for OEMs as new features, intuitive human-machine interfaces (HMI), and safety attracts the end customers. By 2030, we can expect to witness a full-scale digitalization driven by the trend of connected, autonomous, shared, and electric (CASE) vehicles. [1]

Modern Day Cockpit

All modern cockpits are equipped with different sorts of HMI technologies like heads-up displays, rear-seat entertainment systems, steering-based controls, digital clusters, voice recognition, etc. It’s incorporated in every possible touchpoint and assists driver and passenger to control infotainment, connectivity solutions, and ADAS applications. Before going on to the technology, it’s important to understand the layers of the modern cockpit, which consists of the following:

  • Base operating systems: Android, Linux, etc.
  • Application frameworks: Qt, Android UI, Kanzi, GL Studio 
  • Connectivity standards: Ethernet, CAN, LIN, Flexray, etc.
  • Hypervisor (virtual machine monitors): Switching of operations from single SoC 
  • Key infotainment platforms: NXP, i.MX, Qualcomm, 820a, NVIDIA, etc.

Digital Cockpit Controller

The digital cockpit controller facilitates the simultaneous working of infotainment, instrument cluster, and ADAS functionalities in real-time. The cockpit controller architecture integrates all the capabilities into a single multi-core SoC and ECU. The controller is connected to the virtual machine monitor (VMM) which functions on an OS linked with a middleware. The middleware is responsible for the communication or connectivity between components. 

ECU Consolidation 

Automakers are moving towards ECU consolidation as it’s an important step in the automotive’s transition towards eliminating components and reducing associated costs. A single powerful ECU is usually capable of executing functions of several systems, but it’s the complex architecture that further enables ECU consolidation as a step towards the software-defined vehicles. Software-designed systems give automakers the flexibility in adding new features, responding to emerging security threats, and also help in migrating the workloads among different computing resources.

Digital Cockpit Future

It’s estimated that 461M vehicles will be shipped with the head unit and digital dashboard displays and 115M vehicles with digital cockpit architecture between 2020 and 2030. Cellular, WiFi, Bluetooth, and wireless technologies are linked and have become critical. A lot of effort is put into bringing over the air (OTA) updates to fix or to add/delete a feature, address cybersecurity issues, or fix the software bugs. The rapid commercialization of smart devices combined with the reduction of LCD prices has reduced the overall cost of HMI. This forces the OEMs to introduce digital cockpits from mid-size vehicles to autonomous cars shortly. [2

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We contribute our 40 years of design and manufacturing expertise spanning multiple diverse markets. We look forward to discussing how we can deliver world-class products for OEMs across the globe. We understand our home Indian market, familiar with its vast regulatory and selling environments. We foster growth opportunities within India through our strong technology incubation ecosystem. We also assist global OEMs in entering the Indian market by leveraging the local supply chain and favorable operating environments for cost reductions.

Our flagship Chennai location opened in 2006 and lies within a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for electronics manufacturing, offering economic incentives for imports and exports. This primary facility is within 90 minutes of the Chennai seaport and 20 minutes to the international airport. Additional road and rail connectivity links to the rest of India and beyond and infrastructure advantages with faster import and export clearances. We also have labor force flexibility, both technical and manual, to scale to demand rapidly.

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