Cars are transforming into data centres on wheels

Telematics Wire in an interaction with Khalid Wani a Senior Director in Sales, India, Western Digital.

  • Can you share in brief about storage products and solutions for automotive from Western Digital?

We have a strong presence in both Flash and HDD technologies, and we leverage advancements in memory tech to create groundbreaking innovations and robust data storage solutions. We believe in empowering the world to achieve its ambitions through data.

The automotive storage sector is particularly fascinating because it demands a wide range of capabilities. Our solutions are specifically tailored and optimized for the harsh conditions often encountered in automotive environments, including extreme temperatures and extended usage periods.

Western Digital offers a well-established lineup of automotive-grade products designed to meet the evolving needs of the connected and autonomous vehicle market. Our offerings fall into two main categories: removable storage solutions like automotive-grade SD cards, and embedded storage solutions that are integrated into the vehicle’s systems. Our iNAND® storage devices are engineered for exceptional reliability and are designed to handle the data requirements of the latest infotainment and navigation systems. Western Digital’s storage solutions are carefully crafted to support the data demands of cutting-edge technology and are known for their outstanding reliability. 

  • Do you see the demand for storage solutions for connected vehicle picking up in India?

Today, almost every car has some degree of digital features. Vehicles are evolving into connected forms through the integration of applications and technologies such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), autonomous computing, improved entertainment systems, over-the-air (OTA) updates, and V2X (vehicle-to-X) technology. This V2X technology enables vehicles to communicate with “X,” where “X” can represent another vehicle, roadside infrastructure, cyclists, or similar entities. Furthermore, connected vehicle technology in India experienced a substantial growth rate of more than 60% compared to the previous year’s first quarter, according to data from CMR. This indicates a significant surge in the adoption of connected vehicle features and technologies.

With the advancement of automotive technology, cars are transforming into data centers on wheels, making it essential for OEMs to prioritize storage as an integral part of their data strategy. The complexity and data-intensive nature of connected cars require robust storage solutions to ensure seamless operation and optimal performance. As technology continues to advance and consumer preferences evolve, the connected vehicle market in India is poised for further expansion in the coming years, creating an extensive demand for storage solutions for connected vehicles in the country. 

  • What are your predictions for data storage in autonomous mobility in the future? 

The data storage requirements for autonomous mobility are poised to grow significantly due to the proliferation of sensors, cameras, and AI systems in autonomous vehicles. To address these challenges, several key trends are expected to shape the future of data storage in this domain. Cloud storage is expected to play a crucial role in storing and managing the vast datasets produced, especially for AI training and operation. Additionally, edge computing, which brings computation closer to data sources, will help reduce latency and enhance real-time performance in autonomous driving applications.

The future of data storage in autonomous mobility is promising, driven by ongoing technological advancements and the development of storage solutions tailored to the unique needs of this field. This evolution will contribute to the increased capabilities and reliability of autonomous vehicles, ensuring their continued growth and integration into our transportation systems.

  • Do you see the usage of cloud storage in the automotive sector driving the connected vehicle?

Yes, the usage of cloud storage in the automotive sector has the potential to drive the development and functionality of connected vehicles. Connected vehicles, often referred to as “smart” or “connected” cars, rely on internet connectivity and data storage to provide a wide range of features and services.  Connected cars often require high-capacity storage solutions to handle the large amounts of data generated and processed by their advanced systems. This includes storing data related to vehicle performance, navigation, entertainment systems, driver behavior, and more. As autonomous vehicles increasingly exchange information outside of the car, they will rely on actual data centres. These will not be traditional data centers, but Edge data centers, located along the road to allow computation of raw sensor data. (Edge data centers are small data centers that are located close to the edge of a network). Therefore, the infrastructure outside of the vehicle also plays a critical role. Cloud computing brings a supporting infrastructure to Edge data centers that can deliver much faster response times. As vehicles advance from Level 0-5 autonomy increasing amount of storage will be required to support ADAS. With 5G, this connectivity will further increase creating need for further storage requirements. 

  • What emerging technologies or trends in automotive do you believe will impact the data storage industry in India, and how is Western Digital positioning itself to leverage these opportunities?

Initially, in the beginning, the use of traditional HDDs for navigation maps has evolved into the use of flash-based e.MMC and UFS devices in contemporary vehicles. Usually, high-performing SSDs are now the preferred choice for storing autonomous vehicle data, playing a pivotal role in driving this transformative shift. A prominent trend in this evolution is the increasing significance of NAND flash memory. NAND flash has seamlessly integrated itself into numerous facets of the automotive industry, with a special focus on data storage solutions. Western Digital has recognized the importance of this trend and positioned itself to leverage these opportunities. We have adapted our solutions to accommodate NAND flash, which is essential for in-vehicle applications like storing map data, music, and even data from drive recorders in race cars. 

Western Digital also introduced the e.MMC (embedded Multi Media Card) storage solutions designed for automotive applications. These solutions were built on embedded flash storage technology initially developed for the mobile market. Western Digital has adapted to the changing needs of the automotive industry by meeting high-quality and reliability standards. They’ve transitioned to 3D-NAND technology to provide scalable, high-capacity storage solutions for in-vehicle infotainment and other automotive applications. 

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