Interview: Sudeepth Puthumana, Head of Segment ADAS, Continental Automotive Systems | Autocar Professional


Bengaluru-based Continental Automotive Systems (CAS) is making significant strides in revolutionising the automotive industry in India through the development of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). By leveraging localisation combined with cutting-edge technologies, CAS aims to democratise advanced features such as Automatic Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Adaptive Cruise Control, making them accessible in mid-premium category vehicles within the next two or three years. Sudeepth Puthumana talked about how India was catching up with global automotive safety protocols and the company’s localisation efforts in making ADAS technologies more democratic for the auto industry.  

How has safety evolved in the automotive industry?

When Continental began operating in 2015, our primary goal was to support customers — domestic and global — for airbags, which we have been doing for the past 30 years. We also started actively participating in Indian regulations, forums, different consortiums, and regulatory discussions. Earlier, one airbag was mandatory, but now we are talking about six airbags in India.

Previously, airbags were considered a feature, but now they have become a requirement. As people have become more aware, they want their vehicles to be equipped with the latest features and advanced technology, which has led to a significant increase in the importance of safety in India. The market demands and expectations have evolved.

How is India placed in terms of growth of ADAS adoption compared to China?

There is absolutely no comparison between China and India. A McKinsey Centre for Future mobility survey has showed that Chinese consumers are more likely than Western consumers to embrace autonomous driving with higher willingness to pay — all of which has culminated in a high interest in purchasing L4 pilot vehicles.

China has been aggressively investing in ADAS technologies, spurred by consumer demands, technological growth, government policies, and the rapid growth of its automotive market. As a result, it often leads in terms of the scale of ADAS deployment and R&D investments.

China has also introduced policies that allow L3/L4 autonomous vehicles to be used. Additionally, they are increasing the focus on building an entire ecosystem for autonomous mobility.

India is gradually evolving in the uptake and growth of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), but it lags China in terms of adoption and market penetration. Right now, most of ADAS technology in India is at L1 and L2, primarily in SUVs and sedans, with hatchbacks being minimal at L0.

What are the challenges you see in the adoption of autonomous technologies?

India has its own set of challenges in terms of the adoption of autonomous technologies, especially for entry-level and mid-segment Indian cars. More affordable and cost-effective ADAS solutions for the Indian market will certainly drive the inclusion of these technologies in mass segments.

The average Indian customer is value-conscious, and we need to ensure that the technology is not beyond the reach of the majority.

Therefore, the expectation from the industry is to reduce the technology cost of Indian OEMs. As the average Indian customer is value-conscious, we need to ensure that the technology is not beyond the reach of the majority due to costs.

We are trying to address the ‘warnings’ part.  We are also integrating ESC; our ADAS solution with ESC to have closed-loop systems, which are like ABS or adaptive cruise controls. This is what the customers want today.

In India, the growth of ADAS segments is likely to mirror global trends, with certain features gaining popularity faster than others due to factors such as market demand, consumer demand, regulatory requirements, and infrastructure readiness.

Which ADAS features do you see having good traction in India?

Some features that could see an uptake in India include Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB). AEB is likely to witness significant growth in India, driven by its effectiveness in reducing rear-end collisions. With increasing traffic congestion and a high incidence of accidents, particularly in urban areas, AEB can play a crucial role in mitigating collisions caused by sudden stops or distractions.

Also, we see good potential in Lane Departure Warning (LDW) Lane Keep Assist (LKA) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). As traffic volumes increase and drivers seek convenience during long-distance travel, ACC can enhance both safety and driving comfort.

Other features where we see good traction are Park Assist, Blind Spot Detection (BSD) and Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR): TSR systems, which detect and display traffic signs such as speed limits and stop signs, are likely to become more prevalent in India as road signage improves and regulatory requirements evolve.

Is CAS looking at localisation in India for ADAS systems?

India-made ADAS systems are expected to outperform global Tier I components makers by 20-25% in the next two years. We see it being democratised to mid-priced cars priced from, thus improving the safety landscape in general.

Localisation efforts will be combined with cutting-edge technologies to democratise advanced features such as Automatic Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Adaptive Cruise Control from premium to mid-premium category vehicles in the Rs 15-25 lakh pricing segment in the next 2-3 years.

Any possibility of ADAS features in trucks?

The features or the use cases are quite similar. There will be blind spot detection which is very important and also adaptive cruise control. Some of the customers already have these solutions in place, but not on a large scale. This is an opportunity to improve safety on the roads.

Globally, we have entered into an exclusive partnership with Aurora Innovation, Inc. to jointly design, develop, validate, deliver, and service the scalable autonomous system for the trucking industry. The system for trucks is expected to be available for carriers and commercial fleet operators across the US and to help reduce costs to facilitate broader adoption.

With BNCAP, do you see the safety regulations getting stricter?

Policy, vehicle safety standards and infrastructure are key to driving ADAS in India. Continental, along with other industry experts is part of consultations by governments and industry bodies to provide expert views and recommendations on relevant technology topics.

As far as ADAS goes, the government is poised to notify standards for installing ADAS features as an additional safety feature.

We all know that in the government has focused on improving road safety through legislations, ranging from ABS to the most recent one which is under implementation — a component of the ADAS system — electronic stability control (ESC). Advanced Emergency Braking System (AEBS), another component of ADAS, is also under draft norm.

Additionally, the BNCAP, with its stricter crash testing norms, is poised to catalyse the uptake of passive and active safety, laying the groundwork for ADAS becoming a mandatory requirement in the future.

This feature was first published in Autocar Professional’s May 15, 2024 issue.

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