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As we come to the end of what has been an exciting and eye-opening E-Week, we shift our focus to Mobility Moments. This week, we sit down with Punitha Sinnapan, Vice President of Automotive Design and Innovation at Cubic Telecom, to discuss the rise in electrification and demand for zero-emission transportation. 

So Punitha, you have worked on the ‘smarter’ side of automotive during your time at Intel and, of course, in your latest position at Cubic Telecom. Looking in from a technology perspective, how have you seen the industry change and become intertwined with the software sector?

Traditionally, the automotive industry has been hardware-driven. However, as software technology advances at a rapid pace, there has been significant growth due to increased demand for ‘smart’ solutions and features. Automakers are investing heavily now in additional software to be integrated into their vehicle fleets.

Embedded technologies are of great benefit to automakers giving them the ability to add and modify their services in live vehicles via software updates, without the need to replace any hardware. This leads to cost savings for the automaker as well as enhanced user experiences for the drivers.

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What has been the catalyst to the rise in EV popularity?  

I see autonomous driving as a major influence on this initial shift to electrification, while global concerns regarding the environment and sustainable energy have made the switch to EVs an even more popular option.

To deliver safe self-driving cars, it is vital that every component within the vehicle is inter-connected. It is just as important for information that is exchanged externally, between the vehicle and its external ecosystem, to be as safe and seamlessly connected too. This can be achieved when all the key mechanical components transform as electronic parts. That’s what was the driving force behind electrification.

What are the main challenges for automakers in this newly connected and electrified era and how can we overcome them?

For automakers on the journey to develop software-driven vehicles, they face many logistical decisions before implementing the software. Several questions must be answered: How can we off-load our dependency on hardware? How do we go about adding more software capabilities to our live fleets in future? How can we best connect the vehicle to external systems?

Ultimately automakers need to bring software experts to the decision-making table to overcome these challenges. Together they can build a new ecosystem to support the software-driven journey, which would be mutually beneficial.

Over your time spent working in Malaysia, Japan and Ireland, you have gained a truly global understanding of the automotive market. Do the challenges mentioned previously extend across the world, or are they unique issues for each region?

Based on my interaction with them, I believe every automaker across the globe faces similar challenges. There is a strong desire to transform vehicle architecture; but this is restricted by experience, knowledge and an overarching interest to retain legacy investment for cost advantages.

Global deployment then becomes a challenge as you have a single vehicle architecture which is developed in a single location but needs to be deployed across multiple regions with the need for custom configuration and regulatory compliance specific to local landscapes. A logistical nightmare!

How does a company like Cubic assist in the electrification of automakers and where do your capabilities fit into all of this?

We at Cubic Telecom provide various solutions for automakers, mainly a connectivity and software solution that resolves the global deployment challenges I just mentioned.

We enable vehicles to communicate with external systems via a cellular network. Our combination of software and infrastructure enables advanced global connectivity, giving automakers more control over their fleets with a one-stop platform (PACE) delivering real-time analytics and insights. We also give automakers the ability to identify and understand the types of services being consumed by vehicles dynamically via our PLXOR service.

We provide regulatory compliance, covering tax and security on a country-by-country basis and our solution is fast-tracked for global markets as the technology is embedded at the point of manufacture of the vehicle.

My experience in vehicle architecture and the automotive ecosystem is important at Cubic. I can apply this knowledge to the design and development of future products seeking to solve industry challenges and get automakers few steps closer to their end goal. 

Finally, how is Cubic connecting the electric vehicle revolution going forward?

Cubic started its automotive journey as a connectivity supplier. Now we have evolved into a software and data insights provider beyond connectivity management. We have various innovation projects ongoing both internally and as external collaborations with our partners. These will deliver end-to-end solutions that bring multiple players in the ecosystem together to support the electric vehicle revolution. This is an exciting time for us at Cubic. 

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