December 4, 2017

Visteon Makes Its Mark at New Proving Ground for Autonomous Driving
An Ideal Setting to Ready Autonomous Cars for Realities of the Road   
By Upton Bowden, new technology management

If the world’s highways, local roads and city centers were all brand new with bright white lanes, sparkling signs, fresh concrete and protected pedestrian overpasses, most of us might be tooling around in autonomous cars and trucks by now.

But the real world has a way of deflating those expectations by populating cities and countrysides with potholes, confusing layers of repositioned lane markers, construction areas, broken-down vehicles, inconsistent entrance and exit ramps, and the occasional stray pedestrian chasing lost cargo.

The variety of situations that may confront an autonomous vehicle seems endless, but the automotive industry is tackling all of them, seeking to build algorithms that can manage any challenge that the vehicle encounters. To achieve this daunting goal, the algorithms and associated equipment must be tested in a realistic, flexible setting that can be monitored and controlled, so real highways and downtowns are not the best places to determine if an engineer’s latest software tweaks really do the job.

Fortunately, the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the University of Michigan, Business Leaders for Michigan and Ann Arbor SPARK have joined to create the American Center for Mobility (ACM), a full proving ground for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure testing, validation and education. The remarkable facility is under construction at the Willow Run site near Ypsilanti, Michigan, with its first phase opening on Dec. 11.

500 acres of tunnels, roundabouts and potholes

Visteon is delighted to be the first Tier 1 automotive supplier to become an ACM partner, investing $5 million in this nationally designated proving ground, one of only 10 across the United States. This world-class, non-profit facility is specifically designed for developing, testing and creating standards for autonomous vehicle software and hardware, with roadways that mimic real-life situations and the obstacles they can present.

Stretching across more than 500 acres, ACM preserves a mile-and-a-half portion of M-12, with its potholes and worn lane markings. It adds triple-decker overpasses, bridges and a 2.5-mile, high-speed loop. Workers also are constructing a 700-foot curved tunnel, two double overpasses, intersections, roundabouts and a complex pedestrian zone. It even will offer an urban canyon, with movable glass and steel walls that generate reflections and potentially block wireless signals.

Computer vision algorithms should not always look at brand-new pavement, so ACM has lines with older faded paint. Indeed, ACM can make lane markings disappear and add construction barrels or put debris on the road along with stalled vehicles.

At ACM, virtually any type of driving environment can be custom-designed for testing by the industry. We can test autonomous driving in a simulated rainstorm, where glare from the road can interfere with sensors. We can turn off the lights in a tunnel to imitate a power failure. We even can create a snowstorm without needing to wait for January in Michigan.

An ideal environment for perfecting DriveCore™ technology

Situated just seven miles from Visteon’s headquarters, ACM will serve as an ongoing base for perfecting Visteon’s DriveCore™ technology, an integrated autonomous driving controller providing a scalable, failsafe platform that Integrates advanced driver assistance systems through levels 3 and 4 of autonomous driving.

Visteon’s first autonomous vehicle will be on site for ACM’s Dec. 11 opening, so our autonomous team can test hardware, software, sensors—the entire setup—while controlling surrounding vehicles to reproduce an amazing variety of traffic situations.

ACM will be a great site for proving edge-use cases for computer vision in autonomous driving—those unusual situations that defy ideal conditions.

We are confident that ACM will help us more quickly validate the performance and safety of systems we are developing. Our proximity will be a huge advantage, as team members no longer will need to drive across the country to find certain test-case environments. Also, as a founding partner, Visteon can book the ACM facility in advance and permanently occupy a garage on the grounds.

We believe that this strategic investment in ACM will accelerate the development of our products and demonstrate our long-term commitment to autonomous driving systems, as well as our ability to move quickly to test edge-use cases.

The American Center for Mobility is an ideal, unique venue for making possible the safe validation and self-certification of connected and autonomous vehicle technology – helping ensure autonomous cars will perform reliably and safely on those unpredictable “real-world” roads and highways.

Upton Bowden oversees new technology management in the Chief Technology Office at Visteon. He is primarily focused on technology and approaches that enable autonomous driving and other next-generation mobility solutions. Bowden earned a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Wayne State University. He holds 14 automotive electronics patents and serves on the board of the Connected Vehicle Trade Association (CTVA). 

September 6, 2017

Visteon – an Intern’s Point of View
By Courtney Schultz, Communications Intern

Internships are a great way to get a taste of the job field before graduation. Most academic programs require an internship to graduate; however, students usually don’t have time to commit to something more than part-time. Many of my peers in the public relations program at Eastern Michigan University chose internships that only required working 12-15 hours a week. But I didn’t want a cookie-cutter internship – I wanted something full-time where I could really immerse myself.

I wanted an experience.

After spending hours searching, I applied for a communications intern position at Visteon. I was intrigued to learn that Visteon is a Tier 1 automotive supplier and a technology company that is focused on cockpit electronics and autonomous driving. It sounded new and exciting to me.

I went through a two-step interview process – a phone interview followed by an in-person interview. I was especially nervous as this was my first-ever interview for my field of study. My nerves were put to rest during the in-person interview. Visteon had a casual atmosphere, open work environment, and I felt I really meshed with the people interviewing me. I left the interview hopeful, and later that day I was offered the communications intern position.

My tenure at Visteon began on May 8, and I didn’t know what to expect. I certainly never would have thought that I would truly immerse myself into the communications and marketing team. I have been incredibly fortunate to have supervisors who truly care about my growth and development in the communications field and who strive to foster an all-inclusive environment.

The summer has flown by in the blink of an eye, and these four months have been much more than an internship. I’ve had the opportunity to explore areas of communications and marketing that I previously didn’t consider “part of the job.” I’ve attended and participated in many meaningful events that have solidified my passion for community service and diversity.

The biggest project our team is undertaking this summer is the redesign of the company website, Over the years, Visteon has gone through a dynamic transformation. We’ve solidified our position as a technology leader. And our website needs to reflect this. From collaborating on site maps and graphics to drafting web copy and learning about workflows, I have been involved in every step of the website redesign process. And as a millennial, my input was not only requested, it was highly valued. We are working relentlessly to get the new site up and running soon; although I won’t be here for the launch, I’ll be on the lookout for the new site. I never would have imagined that I would be an integral part of such a big project.

This summer, I’ve also had the opportunity to host media. Last month, a reporter from Reuters, as well as a group of Chinese journalists, toured our facilities and interviewed our CEO. It was cool to see the feature videos and news articles that came out of those sessions that I helped coordinate.

Perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of my position was the numerous opportunities for community service. From playing bingo with sick children at the Detroit Children’s Hospital to working with Life Remodeled to clear blight in a Detroit neighborhood – I loved being able to help those who needed it. I had the opportunity to promote these events with photos, video and employee news articles. It was fun to watch the number of “likes” for my work add up on the company intranet!

The internship program at Visteon is a wonderful experience. It’s clear that a lot of thought and effort goes into planning it. This summer, my fellow interns across various functions heard from a LinkedIn representative, attended a Detroit Tigers game, experienced the Ford Rouge factory tour, and met with many company executives and employees who shared valuable insights. 

While my time here is drawing to a close, the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met will remain in my memories forever. The opportunities I’ve had here are ones I will always look back on. I’ve grown tremendously since starting here in May.  I have gained confidence in my abilities and have learned so much.
For that, I’d like to thank every person at Visteon whom I’ve encountered who has truly made me feel a part of this company – not just an intern. It means so much to be truly valued and appreciated.

In the end, I got what I came for – that once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Courtney Schultz is a recent graduate of Eastern Michigan University and holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations. She received her associate’s degree in liberal arts from Washtenaw Community College in 2015. Following her summer internship at Visteon based in Van Buren Township, Michigan, she is moving to the state of Washington, where she will pursue a career in communications and public relations.

August 15, 2017

Bumps and Promises for Automated Driving             
By Timothy Yerdon, Head of Global Marketing and Communications

If you’re navigating the future course of the automotive industry, you’re likely to find insight to help you steer at the annual Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars (MBS) in Traverse City, Michigan. This event consistently has provided a solid perspective and vision of where the global automotive industry is headed. Increasingly, that course leads toward automated driving, a shift that is filled with curves, bumps and promise.

It’s not surprising that more than 1,000 people from across the industry attended the MBS conference a few weeks ago. Executives from OEMs and Tier 1 and 2 suppliers, financial analysts from Wall Street, various industry analysts and automotive media participated in sessions that largely reflected three mega-themes for the industry: automated driving, vehicle electrification, and automotive regulation.

What will the technologies be?

The most widely discussed topic was automated driving and all its ramifications. One prominent financial analyst summarized the road ahead by saying he’s not fixated on what production volumes will be for automated driving. He’s more interested now in what will be the technologies for automated driving that will hit the market sooner and ultimately support fully autonomous vehicles. No one really knows when automated driving will achieve its goals and who will make money at it. This analyst suggested that, instead of focusing on the vehicle, OEMs look at the companies developing vehicle computing platforms, sensors and software. The value will be in the companies that can deliver those advanced technologies. These technologies will embed themselves in more conventional cars and trucks and eventually dovetail into fully automated vehicles.

An un-electrifying prospect for electrification

The second major theme was the continued interest in the electrification of vehicles. Much of the industry’s conversation has centered on pure electric, battery-powered vehicles with no internal combustion engines. Prospects are, however, that even in 2025 only 4 to 6 percent of the overall vehicle market will be fully electric. On a global scale, that’s a lot of cars and trucks, but it’s still a very small proportion of total production. Consumer preferences, legislative hurdles and costs for both automakers and vehicle buyers will combine to keep electric-car volumes low, so companies in the traditional powertrain business will need to reinvent themselves or face major business challenges. 

Standards to drive automated vehicles globally

The final theme follows inevitably from the others: regulation. What regulations will really drive the industry as automated and electric vehicles flow into the marketplace? We will need to develop global standards, as we have with current vehicles, so that the industry doesn’t find itself engineering varying components and systems for different geographies. No one will tolerate curtailing automated mode when their self-driving car crosses a state line because of a regulation. The most important consideration is not to add more complexity atop a technology that already is complex. All parties will need to negotiate and reach agreements to move legislation through more quickly than they have in the past, or risk holding back the autonomous wave.

Michigan as an Innovation Champ

MBS participants also learned why Michigan is such an important focal point for all these developments. A 2017 innovation scorecard from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) designated Michigan as one of its 10 “Innovation Champion” states. Among nearly a dozen reasons the CTA said Michigan earned this recognition were its business-friendly tax policies, a nearly 388,000-person technology workforce, the absence of laws restricting self-driving cars, and the state business community’s high level of investment in venture capital and research and development. Michigan ranks eighth in the nation for combined venture capital investments per capita and R&D per capita.

As I noted during a panel discussion at MBS on the Car of Tomorrow, those of us based in Michigan need to sustain these advantages, by continuing to be innovation- and technology-friendly. While views on how to best navigate the course of the auto industry may vary, ensuring that Michigan remains the hub for developing America’s mobility in the future is something on which just about everyone at MBS could agree.

Tim Yerdon is head of global marketing and communications for Visteon. Leveraging more than 20 years of experience in engineering and thought leadership in innovation, Yerdon fosters collaborative efforts with technology/industry partners and government agencies to advance growth beyond traditional automotive electronics into the future of connected and automated vehicles.

Yerdon serves on the Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA™) Board of Industry Leaders and is vice-chair of CTA’s Vehicle Technology Division Board. He also chairs the MICHauto/Detroit Regional Chamber talent committee, and serves on the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Industry Advisory Board.