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Q&A with Amit Mehta, New Technology Leader, FISITA Autonomous Hardware & Software cluster

Updated: Jun 9, 2021

Amit Mehta leads FISITA’s Autonomous Hardware and Software cluster. In this FISITA Q&A, he notes that the provision of seamless mobility demands partnerships between a wide range of disciplines and stakeholder types, and that FISITA provides the bridge that connects all of the key players and facilitates this pre-competitive collaboration.

The trends in mobility can be grouped into four, namely business, technology, regulatory, and public opinion, says Amit, who is also the Head of Innovation at North American Lighting, and an advocate for innovation and tech start-ups.

Please could you outline your current role and responsibilities

I am Head of Innovation at North American Lighting Inc., a fully owned subsidiary of The Koito Group, the world’s leading Tier 1 supplier of exterior automotive lighting. My major responsibility is technology scouting to bring adjacent and transformational start-ups into our core so we may provide added value to our customers. Developing the right brand image is essential in order to attract the right technology start-ups to conduct a proof-of-concept, pilot, partnership, or investment. To attract passionate founders with revolutionary technology, I focus on developing a presence in Silicon Valley through technical meetings, hosting a podcast, and speaking at conferences and events about our business and mission.

What is your role within FISITA?

I am the New Technology Leader for the Autonomous Hardware and Software cluster.

What are the key mobility trends shaping discussions in your technology cluster?

There are various trends taking place around mobility, but they can be grouped into four, namely business, technology, regulatory, and public opinion.

In terms of business trends, we are seeing partnerships and collaborations that we haven’t seen in the past 100 years, including OEMs working with each other, and Tier 1s collaborating. At the centre of all of this are start-ups working to develop new ADAS and autonomous technology to create all-new profit pools which come from business models the automotive industry is just starting to explore, such as data, on-demand service, and components for battery and fuel cell vehicles.

Technology continues to follow the trajectory of aligning with what’s known as “SWaP-C” – that is, size, weight, power, and cost. Most of the sensors being introduced to vehicles today have not been automotive qualified, have not reached maturation in terms of form factor and weight, and are still in their infancy of performance. We will continue to see lidar, hi-def radar, and camera makers improve in all these categories while adding the perception necessary to make these systems smart.

In terms of regulation, driverless vehicle testing is becoming more widespread. We are seeing companies continue to apply for driverless testing permits and accumulate the necessary data and miles required to safely introduce AVs. Governments will start to play a larger role in regulating these technologies as they become more mainstream and coupled with infrastructure solutions.

Finally, polls show people warming to driverless cars. In the U.S., pilots have already started in Phoenix and in limited areas around San Francisco. Geo-fenced autonomous vehicle solutions have been deployed in small areas in the Midwest and appear to offer both convenience and cost savings.

What challenges do these trends present?

Companies that are 100 years old need to work with new start-ups in order to bring autonomous vehicle technology to market. To spread the cost of development, different OEMs will continue to partner as well. Technology validation and qualification is incredibly difficult and expensive. Advanced semiconductor technology will be required in vehicles that will compete with consumer electronics. All of this, plus working with governments to progressively implement regulations and meet customer expectations, will be very challenging.

And what opportunities do these trends offer?

Besides creating new markets built on the foundation of data, there are opportunities to reduce fatalities through Vision Zero, which aims to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all. It was first implemented in Sweden but has now started to gain traction in North America and around the world.

What does all this mean for engineers developing the technology of mobility?

It now means that siloed engineering majors such as mechanical, electrical, or software engineering will no longer exist. A new university graduate or even a tenured engineer will need to evolve and adapt by developing new skills and merging multiple disciplines.

How can FISITA membership help engineers develop these solutions?

This decade is mobility’s inflection point. As we try to bring in multiple technologies into mobility with the aim of providing seamless transportation to the world, melting electrification, autonomous driving, blockchain technology, and many others all into one platform, we need the expertise of the academic, corporate, and start-up world to bring this to reality. FISITA provides the bridge allowing multiple members to work in technology clusters that impact all of these things.

What would you say to anyone considering FISITA membership?

It’s been an amazing experience being part of FISITA and meeting people passionate about the advancement of mobility. Koito and North American Lighting’s dedication to this field also remains unparalleled. With the foundation of our development activities being based around increasing safety, we continue to look for ways to add value by housing sensors such as lidar, radar, and camera into our headlights and taillights coupled with perception. We are happy to work with anyone that shares our mission and vision, and anyone interested in FISITA membership should contact my FISITA colleague, Kelly Williams.


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