Friday 18 October 2019

Irish tech firms helping to drive the future

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Jens Altmann

The internal combustion engine might not yet be dead but talk of its decline is certainly not exaggerated. Global sales of almost three million electric cars are expected this year. Tough EU carbon emission limits on new cars from next year could cost non-compliant manufacturers billions of euro in fines.

Advances in digital connectivity mean that drivers already have the power of the internet at their fingertips. Autonomous technology systems are developing so quickly that, last February, Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicted a "feature-complete" self-driving car would be ready by the end of 2020.

The future of mobility is connected, autonomous, shared and electric (CASE) vehicles. It is already here, and it presents tremendous opportunities for Irish technology companies.

READ MORE: IDA chief keen to place Ireland in the driving seat for next car revolution

Several of those companies have already attracted global attention for their ability to develop solutions for the automotive sector.

Decawave's ultra-wideband technology enables centimetre-precise distance and location measurements for cars. The Dublin company's breakthrough came in keyless entry systems but it is now involved with applications such as wireless electrical vehicle charging, which also requires precise positioning technology.

Stéphane Barrazza, Decawave's EMEA automotive business development manager, says: "It is important to identify the areas where your technology can be applied and develop partners there. Car manufacturers want their supply chains to be collaborative, so that they are incorporating the best technology in the finished vehicle."

The artificial intelligence (AI)-based object and gesture recognition systems being developed by Shannon software manufacturer Emdalo Technologies certainly fit that description when it comes to powering the capability of autonomous vehicles and driver assistance systems - and not just in cars.

Emdalo co-founder Daire McNamara explains: "We have an AI solution running with a company that operates autonomous boats for surveying the ocean, which enables them to detect and avoid potential hazards such as other boats or unmapped rocks."

There is also the global connectivity platform of Cubic Telecom, which allows more than 2.5 million drivers across 180 countries to enjoy internet capability, and manufacturers such as Audi, Skoda and VW to collect data on vehicle performance.

Jens Kötz, connected architecture, energy and security lead at Audi AG, says: "Cubic's technical solution allows Audi to drive efficiency and competency in our delivery of connected services, enhancing the ultimate driving experience."

Wexford-based Taoglas is providing cutting-edge antenna and radio frequency solutions for Internet of Things (IoT) applications, which allow leading car makers to network their vehicles with the outside world.

David Connolly, product manager at Taoglas, explains: "Automotive projects can take five or six years to come to full production, so it's all about building relationships early on with other companies in the supply chain.

"We've been involved in numerous automotive projects with different companies - both in new cars and retrofitted to existing models."

The challenge for car makers and their suppliers is as much about software as hardware, and Ireland's burgeoning reputation in automotive technologies was enhanced earlier this year when Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) opened a new centre for networked and autonomous vehicles at Shannon.

JLR and French vehicle technology giant Valeo, which employs more than 1,000 people in Tuam, are also at the heart of the CAV (Connected and Autonomous Vehicles) research hub in the west, which is backed by the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, Department of Transport and the Lero research centre.

Capability is king for these car makers and suppliers, and Irish companies with the ability to innovate and solve exacting problems will be well placed to help drive the future of mobility.

A visit to the JLR centre will take place on the second day of CASE: Driving the Future, a transatlantic forum on future mobility on October 23-24.

The first day of the Enterprise Ireland event will bring together leading global automotive manufacturers, suppliers, industry experts and opinion leaders at the Convention Centre Dublin.

For more information, please visit: http://tiny.cc/CASE19.

Jens Altmann is a market adviser based in Enterprise Ireland's Dusseldorf office

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