DETROIT -- The complexity of self-driving vehicles has created a golden opportunity for key suppliers to market themselves as one-stop shops for automakers.
Companies such as Continental AG, Robert Bosch GmbH and ZF Friedrich-shafen AG are promoting their ability to integrate sensors, software, brakes and steering for automakers that don't have the r&d to do it themselves.
Continental CEO Elmar Degenhart says his company is negotiating with customers to provide technology for self-driving cars on a "turnkey" basis.
"We have some customers who don't have the means" to integrate the components of a self-driving car, Degenhart told Automotive News. "They are more than happy to let us do it."
Sensing opportunity, other suppliers also are trying to simplify the task of integrating technology for connected, self-driving cars.
During a panel discussion at the Automotive News World Congress, Visteon CEO Sachin Lawande argued that the proliferation of electronic-control units is a major headache for automakers.
A typical luxury vehicle today has more than 100 electronic-control units, and the number will jump as automakers introduce self-driving vehicles. "ECUs are proliferating at a rate that our customers cannot sustain," Lawande said. "This adds weight, cost and energy consumption."
The solution? Design multidomain controllers that can operate multiple devices.
Visteon, for example, has introduced a multidomain controller that integrates the instrument cluster, center console display and head-up display.
Self-driving vehicles also will require seats that can pivot so that the driver can chat with passengers while the vehicle is driving itself. But that will require new airbags, seat belts and seat structures.
Seat supplier Adient will work with airbag suppliers to design safe cockpits, said Byron Foster, Adient's executive vice president. "We are rethinking the safety implications so that we can do it in a safe and cost-effective way," he said.