Satnav and car infotainment experts NNG’s India head Prabhaker Misra talks to us about what goes into making a modern-day ‘connected’ car.
Android Auto, Audi’s virtual cockpit, and Tesla’s sci-fi-level autonomous driving. That’s what the future holds for the motoring enthusiast. But what happens behind the scenes? We speak to the chaps making our cars smarter to get a better idea about all the hard work that goes in towards making your next 'ride' a closer cousin of your smartphone. As NNG’s India head Prabhaker Misra explains, it’s a lot more technical than what the end user would imagine.
Will cars eventually become a motorised extension of our smartphones?
Consumers demand the same user experience in their cars that they get on their consumer electronics: user friendliness, connectivity, integration with other devices, more screens, etc. However, one must not forget that the primary task of the driver is to keep the car safely on the road, so this needs to be taken into account when designing an in-vehicle user experience. Voice control and gesture control is surely going to become more common.
In these areas, integration with the system of the car is key, to make sure that the information flow between driver and car is smooth and timely. We have been working with our partners on a solution that manages the interaction between the driver and the car - to make sure that notifications and alerts are given only when the driver is able to pay attention - and not when merging onto a busy motorway or while overtaking.
Getting your car hacked while on the expressway sounds scary. Is this really a threat for the upcoming generation of vehicles?
Indeed – the more connected a car is, the more vulnerable it is to hacking attempts; the number of software embedded into vehicles is also growing. With some searching on the Internet, and a cheap device (costing less than $20), a hacker can easily access material and manuals on how to hack a car. OEMs are looking into how to address these vulnerabilities, and NNG is also working on the issue – last year we acquired Arilou Technologies, which created a solution for cars preventing the most frequent types of hacker attacks.
How far are we from seeing autonomous vehicles on Indian roads?
There are many steps before autonomous vehicles can be seen in India. First and foremost is approval from the government. Once the approval is received, any innovation for semi or fully autonomous vehicles can be tested in India.
The way we navigate is quite unique - we rely more on landmarks than addresses. Does that change how you design navigation tech for India?
Driving culture can differ from country to country and that is where adaptability to localisation becomes key, be it local languages or the way people search and navigate. We work together with the best map, content and service providers around the world to provide more country-specific content than any other car navigation provider. Our iGO Navigation engine is a white-label navigation engine - it’s one of the most modular and flexible GPS navigation engines in the navigation industry. We also provide the all crucial map updates to keep the contents up to date - via our global content and service delivery platform Naviextras, which is fully integrated with our navigation engine.
Are you working closely with any carmakers in India?
We have been in India since 2012 and have been working with car manufacturers in India since then. Some of the OEM’s that we are working with are Renault, Ford, VW and JLR.