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DETROIT—The direction of travel for automotive Ethernet applications is clear: up and to the right. But the growth of the technology’s adoption faces stiff headwinds in large part due to the automotive industry’s traditional caution.
That was the assessment from Ian Riches, director of automotive electronics services with Strategy Analytics, who delivered a keynote here during the first day of the IEEE Standards Association’s Ethernet and Automotive IP Day in October 2014.
“Automotive Ethernet demand will grow. It's the only realistically proposed solution for high-bandwidth connectivity in vehicles,” Riches told an industry audience at the COBO Center. The event was pinned to the end of the annual SAE Convergence event for the automotive industry (click here for additional blog coverage of that event and here for our video interview playlist).
What’s driving the technology’s embrace is autonomous vehicle technology and automated driver assistance (ADAS) systems. He noted as an aside that despite the media hype around these applications, they’re really just extensions of automotive engineering and safety efforts stretching back to Henry Ford.
"The least enjoyable parts of the driving experience have (always) been automated,” Riches said.
But the headwinds buffeting adoption are slowing the drive to widespread Ethernet adoption, chiefly the industry’s DNA:
“The general automotive industry is conservative by nature, reluctant to adopt technology. Even something relatively simple can go wrong in a car, and particularly in the U.S., if it goes wrong it costs you big time."
He noted during his presentation that the number of automotive-industry articles about recalls in a recent period outnumbered the number of stories about autonomous vehicle technology five-to-one.
"Very few people don't get fired for making incremental improvement. People do get fired for making transformational change that fails."
Riches (pictured, left) said a number of things are driving the headwinds buffeting automotive Ethernet, including:
Riches emphasized the importance of standardization in kick-starting the momentum for automotive Ethernet adoption.
“The prompt and consensual conclusion to IEEE standardization efforts is perhaps the key point at the moment to remove some of these risk factors and increase confidence in the market,” he said.
Riches shared his forecast for automotive Ethernet growth, but it came with some caveats and caution:
He noted that the fast-paced change of technology can easily change many predictions overnight.
To speed adoption of automotive Ethernet, Riches recommended:
—Functional Safety and ISO 26262: Designing Against the Worst Case
—Using Virtuoso Custom Design Platform to Model an Engine Control Unit
—Designing Automotive Ethernet Using Allegro, Sigrity Tools