From infotainment consolidation to domain fusion and vehicle functions in the cloud
The autonomous car of the future could become a mobile platform with two central computers for ADAS/safety/chassis/powertrain and infotainment/connectivity/body/comfort
The central body control module was the first ECU to become a sort of hub or gateway managing multiple basic functionalities related to doors, windows, seats, lighting and air conditioning. However, infotainment is currently the vehicle domain where the most radical consolidation is happening. Cockpit domain controllers are expected to quickly penetrate both premium and entry market segments globally, aggregating in one powerful silver box the computing and memory capabilities that were before distributed around the car in stand-alone modules. This will reduce harnessing and packaging weight, simplifying at the same time the electronics bill of materials by eliminating redundancy of common integrated circuits such as microcontrollers, analog interfaces, transceivers or power discretes. Security can also benefit from using standard communication protocols and having a sole robust master brain, but the increasing software complexity intrinsic to these multipurpose systems will cause real struggles in the industry. Particularly the leading car manufacturers at the top of the automotive supply chain will have to go through a fundamental corporate restructuring effort to be able to adapt to this new paradigm and remain competitive against disruptive electric car startups.