German automotive major Continental on Thursday confirmed that India is an important base for its research and development (R&D) operations in the development of advanced driver assistance systems, popularly known as ADAS.
ADAS-equipped cars can do one or more of the following: detect lanes and steer themselves to stay within them; keep safe distance from the car ahead; and break to a stop if required. They usually feature night-vision and blind-spot detection, besides stereo cameras to identify pedestrians.
Revenues from ADAS sales are currently only 1.5 per cent of Continental’s 2014 annual revenues of 34.5 billion euros, but Continental President (Chassis and Safety Division) and Executive Board Member Frank Jourdan told Deccan Herald that the company is betting big on the technology.
“Last year, Continental’s revenues were at 34.5 billion euros, of which, ADAS sales were to the tune of 500 million euros. We aim to take it to 1- billion euros in 2016, and 1.5- billion euros by 2018,” Jourdan said, confirming the goals set by Chief Executive Officer Elmar Degenhart.
Jourdan said the company’s R&D team based in Bengaluru is constantly working on different technologies and software going into ADAS. Continental opened the new 13,000-sq metre Technical Centre India (TCI) in Bengaluru on Thursday, which boasts of a headcount of around 1,000 engineers.
“Of the 1,000 engineers, 263 are involved in our ADAS projects. Bengaluru provides us with immense software competencies and we expect that the biggest growth of engineering for ADAS will be from the city,” Jourdan said.
The 263 engineers make up roughly 15-20 per cent of the total number of engineers working on the technology worldwide for the company. Jourdan also hinted that the number of engineers for ADAS from Bengaluru is likely to more than double by 2020.
Presently, ADAS development by Continental at Bengaluru is done in collaboration with engineers at R&D centres elsewhere. The products are made for large automobile companies in the US, Europe, Japan, and South Korea. As part of this, cars are fitted with hardware incorporating sensors connected to radar systems, and cameras that make driving more comfortable and safe.
Invests 12.4 m euros
The company claims to be the market leader in ADAS. In 2014, it sold 10 million units of ADAS, a majority of them being radar systems.
The German auto component major is also betting on a large R&D spend towards this. Continental’s total research and development spend in 2014, across automotive, was around 1.8-billion euros. The Bengaluru-based TCI enjoys an investment of 12.4-million euros.
Talking about introducing ADAS in India, Jourdan said there is still a long way to go. “Better infrastructure, awareness and government policy will ensure that in the years to come, ADAS will find its place in India,” he said, adding that as of now, anti-lock braking systems (ABS), electronic stability control (ESC) systems, and airbags are among the products sold to car companies in India.
The future of ADAS seems bright, according to Jourdan. “By 2025, driverless cars may be a reality, at least in the West. But even before that, one can expect autonomous and driverless parking to emerge, for which ADAS will lay the foundation,” he added.