Tata Elxsi licenses driverless car software to leading global auto firm

Tata Elxsi Showcases Advanced Automotive Technology Solutions at CES 2017, Las Vegas

Tata Elxsi Showcases Advanced Automotive Technology Solutions at CES 2017, Las Vegas



Indian engineering design firm Tata Elxsi has licensed its software platform to one of the top five carmakers globally that will help hasten the development of their own driverless car.

Tata Elxsi's middleware platform AUTONOMAI will act as an interface between the hardware such as stereoscopic cameras, radars and lidars and the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms that will be trained to react to complex driving scenarios.

The firm, which is part of the Tata Group, is already a Tier-1 supplier of software-based driving aids and assistance systems to some of the world's largest automakers. 

With the licensing deal, it is penetrating deeper into the upcoming autonomous vehicle sector that technology giant Intel expects to grow to $7 trillion by 2050.

"We are delighted with this latest win for AUTONOMAI by one of the world's top 5 car OEMs (original equipment manufacturers)", said Nitin Pai, senior vice-president in marketing, Tata Elxsi. "Carmakers will need to ensure that self-driving cars are able to communicate with each other through technologies such as V2X, adapt to different driving conditions, receive real-time maps and over-the-air software updates."

This also would help the company to increasingly generate revenue through the internet protocol (IP) than merely providing engineering services. 

While Tata Elxsi did not name the customer, the top five carmakers globally are Volkswagen, General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Daimler.

Tata Elxsi stock spiked by 4 per cent on the Bombay Stock Exchange after the firm announced the development.

As self-driving cars start appearing outside of closed test tracks and the roads of Silicon Valley, they will need to be trained to adapt to local terrain and driving conditions. 

AUTONOMAI promises to speed up this for automakers with its rapid region-specific adaptation capabilities by using AI and machine learning.

Business Standard first reported in January that Tata Elxsi was planning to test its autonomous car on the roads of Bengaluru to build visibility for its self-driving car related products. The Indian firm has built two of its own self-driving cars to simulate and fine tune its middleware components such as AUTONOMAI.

All large global auto manufacturers and even technology companies such as Google, Uber, Intel and NVIDIA are working on building autonomous vehicles. 

Tata Elxsi says it isn't going to compete with them but rather work with companies to speed up development of their own self-driving cars, trucks or any other type of vehicle.

"What we're developing will be useful in many ways for OEMs and suppliers of parts. It will provide them with a platform to get more research and development faster than ever," Pai told Business Standard in an earlier interaction.

This is right up the alley of the Indian company, which today does complete functionality testing of critical automotive systems such as anti-locking braking system (ABS), electronic stability program (ESP), the traction control system (TCS), hill ascent control (HSC), and hill descent control (HDC) for various automakers.

While Tata Elxsi will steer clear of building hardware sensors used in autonomous driving, the company is also working with large Tier-1 suppliers to co-develop sensors that will be work with its underlying software. 

The company is also looking to cross sell its other software-based safety solutions through such deals.