Experts Say!Interviews

Trends and Challenges of telematics driven remote vehicle diagnostics: Embitel Technologies

Aneesh Adkadkam
Head-Automotive (Product Engineering Services)
Bengaluru, India

Aneesh Adkadkam_Embitel_White Shirt

Aneesh Adkadkam is Head of Automotive Product Engineering Services (PES) at Embitel Technologies. Aneesh is an industry veteran with experience of more than 13 years in embedded automotive domain.

How the use of telematics & connectivity is continuously changing the way we manage our vehicles?

One of the key challenges for an OEM to provide aftermarket support is the limited access they have to the vehicle. Any diagnostics or prognostics is possible only when the vehicle is taken to the service station for a scheduled service or repair. The error/fault code memory in electronic control units helps to some extent once the vehicle is in service station, but the whole support is constrained with lack access to vehicle parameters, limited expertise available in the service station, lack of knowledge of how the vehicle is used (driver behavior) etc.

This is where connectivity helps where you can get real-time access to the vehicle. This can help the OEM to drastically improve the aftermarket support by providing alerts on potential problem, tips to correct wrong driver behavior or to improve mileage based on the usage pattern, remote support in case of on-road breakdown etc.

What makes telematics-driven vehicle diagnostics useful for a cost-sensitive market like India?

The incremental cost of providing remote diagnostics is not huge. BOM cost of the device will be less than $50. There is an additional cost of setting up cloud infrastructure and providing the service, but OEMs already have similar infrastructure connecting service stations now.

The preventive diagnostics and remote support will also reduce the cost of maintenance of the vehicle. This particularly helps commercial market where the opportunity cost of a vehicle under service/repair is huge. In addition there is advantage of getting access to lot of data which can be monetized and can reduce the overall cost.

Traditionally, Indian fleet managers have been using telematics in its very basic form, i.e. track n trace. Do you anticipate a widespread adoption of telematics services by them in future?

Traditional telematics is limited to access to location information and few other information (such as vehicle speed) derived from this. Connected car helps in accessing a whole gamut of data. This helps the fleet managers to reduce cost of operations through preventive maintenance, remote support from OEM service team, reduce fuel consumption analyzing and correcting driver behavior etc. These cost advantages should trigger wide-spread adoption.

What are the various metrics that are crucial for OEMs (or fleet managers) under remote diagnostic services?

For the OEM, the key parameter is to improve the customer satisfaction through better after market support. The challenge is to make this available at low or no additional cost.

Advantage for the OEM is access to real time data which can be used for improving the product reliability. It is like once the vehicle is on-road every vehicle acts as a test vehicle – any vehicle can be monitored for any parameter. Along with it driver behavior, location details etc. are. This can help in product planning and design, improving the vehicle performance and reliability.

In addition the data can be used for other commercial purposes like targeted sales and marketing, customized insurance plans, etc.

Could you share with us details of any recent telematics or connected vehicle project/pilot done with OEMs in India?

We already executed multiple projects in this area, and we have readily available reference design, which can be customized for remote diagnostics implementation. The reference design includes device (VCI- Vehicle Communication Interface) to access vehicle parameters and DTCs (diagnostic trouble codes), connectivity over 3G/4G and Blutooth, GPS and cloud and smartphone (Iphone and Android) based apps.

When it comes to vehicle preventive maintenance, what can Embitel bring on table that differentiates it from its competitors?

The main advantage of embitel is the expertise available in the entire chain of remote diagnostics from getting the data from the vehicle, making the data available to the cloud servers and application programming.

Embitel has extensive experience working with various control units like engine control units, body control units, ADAS, Chassis systems etc and this gives us a good domain knowledge on making these data available for remote diagnostics application.

We have worked on all the major technologies in vehicle networking and diagnostics like CAN, OBD, KWP2000, UDS, J1939 etc. This along with expertise on embedded technologies like GPS, 3G/4G module integration, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, etc. helps us in providing connectivity solutions.

We also have a strong team working on cloud and mobile technologies, which creates webapps and smartphone apps for both business and consumer.

Globally, there has been a buzz around “autonomous vehicles” and highly automated driving. What is your take on this?

Health of the vehicle and subsystems will be a key concern in autonomous vehicles. This will call for real time monitoring of the vehicles for any safety issues and makes remote diagnostics mandatory for such vehicles.

When do you think telematics features would become “must-have” in new vehicles, rather than a nice-to-have feature?

It is NOW, as already some OEMs started offering connectivity solution and using this as a marketing tool especially in passenger car segment. OEMs are already working on various platforms to offer this and partial adoption is likely to happen quickly. Key challenges will be connectivity issues, legal aspects, privacy concerns and cyber security.

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