May 4, 2018




Collaborative Vision Essential to Automated Driving
Insights on development of the world’s first Level-4 autonomous parking solution

Guest Blog By Anuja Sonalker
Founder and CEO, STEER

Many of the most popular technological developments in today’s global society have evolved from the inspiration of a single individual, company or breakthrough. Steve Jobs’ iPhone, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, Jeff Bezos’ Amazon all have been seismic innovations that have changed the lives of billions.  Advancement of automotive technology, however, rarely has resulted from the vision of just one person. Nearly universally, the vehicles of today and tomorrow represent a “quilt” of exceptional innovations from collaborators, such as those who most recently have come together to advance self-driving technology.

Over the past century, the collaboration of suppliers and manufacturers has been responsible for most of the innovation in our cars and trucks. Today, automated driving is so complex and nuanced that no one entity can resolve all the challenges it represents and be good at creating every aspect of the self-driving vehicle, so collaboration remains essential.

Collaboration and integration have become art forms in the automotive gallery, with a creative supply chain that has enabled the industry to keep up with consumer demand and preferences. Consumers want vehicles to keep pace with their lifestyles just as much as they want a tablet or an online marketplace to reflect their constantly changing needs and tastes. Automotive companies gain this timeliness through collaboration.

Collaborating on driverless parking
One successful example of such collaboration—and one close to my heart—is the work being carried out by Visteon and STEER, the company that I founded. STEER has created the first level 4 fully autonomous parking technology, which transforms everyday cars into driverless vehicles that self-park in designated lots.  This technology, activated by a mobile-phone app, lets drivers and passengers be dropped off at their destination; then the car takes over from the drop-off point, navigates and drives itself to a parking area where it detects an open available spot, and parks itself. When they’re ready to leave, they summon their car with the same app. It’s a complete solution that works with existing systems in vehicles and is cybersecure.

Creating this technology, however, is very different from finding a way to integrate it into current and future vehicles and ensure that it works as intended, every time. For that task, we collaborated with Visteon. A few years ago, I met Visteon President and CEO Sachin Lawande, and I was immensely impressed with his vision and his extreme focus on efficient execution, especially in relation to Visteon’s DriveCore autonomous driving platform. Visteon had very clear goals and sought out the right team members to pursue them. We were on the same page regarding how to conquer the automated vehicle market.




A success formula on a napkin
In 2016, Sachin and I came up with our formula for integrating STEER and DriveCore™, literally on a paper napkin. DriveCore™ was precisely the right technology for making STEER a practical automotive technology. Its high computational capabilities, robust systems and its ability to support more than 10 sensor channels with Ethernet connectivity are packaged in a very small unit. Moreover, DriveCore™ has enough power to integrate our valet parking system with autopilot technology. These two advancements could be developed independently and then be integrated seamlessly on DriveCore™. This results in a better value proposition for automakers – a bigger solution that is developed more rapidly.

During development, STEER and Visteon together addressed countless edge cases that make automated driving an infinite microcosm of slight differences among driving situations and driver reactions. DriveCore™ has all the features we need to exhaustively prove all the scenarios we must consider now and in the future.

My greatest surprise during this experience was how easy it was to collaborate with Visteon. It’s a large, global company, but one with no bureaucracy to get lost in. Visteon has promptly addressed every need as soon as we’ve identified it.

Our ability to bring STEER to market so quickly speaks to the success of this collaboration. Before long, STEER-equipped vehicles using DriveCore™ technology will roll out in Asia, followed by the U.S. and Europe.

What I have learned from this collaboration process is that, if you run a technology company, first you must focus on getting your niche problem right. Then you need to exceed expectations, and build and test the guts out of it. After that, envision the delivery vehicle for your product to go to market and approach the right partner.

STEER has used this process to transform our expectations into a transformative, practical technology for automated valet parking. We envision more great developments, collaborating with great companies like Visteon. Our next collaborative innovation is just one napkin away.


Anuja Sonalker, Ph.D. is the founder and CEO of STEER Tech, and has nearly two decades of experience in the automotive and cybersecurity industries. Headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, STEER builds products that enable autonomous features in mainstream vehicles, stimulate smart transportation and prevent automotive cyber threats. Dr. Sonalker oversees technology development, navigation of industry landscape and development of go-to-market strategies.

Prior to STEER, Dr. Sonalker was vice president of engineering and operations for TowerSec, an automotive cybersecurity company that was acquired by Harman International in 2016. She was also a project manager within the automotive security group in the cyber innovation unit at Battelle, where she led advanced research in vehicular environments and transition to market strategies.

Dr. Sonalker is currently the vice chair of the SAE Vehicle Cybersecurity Systems Engineering Committee and co-chair of on the ISO International Standard on Cybersecurity Engineering for Road Vehicles.

She holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland College Park, a master of science in computer engineering from North Carolina State University and a bachelor of engineering from the University of Mumbai.

March 29, 2018




SmartCore Hits the Road with a New Approach to Cockpit Displays
By Waheed Ahmed
Software Engineering Manager – SmartCore™ Chief Architect

Beginning this summer, vehicle cockpits around the world will become a lot more interesting. That’s when the first production vehicles from a German automaker will roll off the lot equipped with Visteon’s SmartCore technology.

In conventional automotive cockpits, technologies such as the instrument cluster, center stack, infotainment and telematics each are driven by a separate electronic control unit (ECU). SmartCore combines the functions of multiple ECUs into a single box, or domain controller, which ultimately may serve as the brains for every display function across the instrument panel and into passenger areas.

The SmartCore offerings will integrate the instrument cluster, a head-up display (HUD) and Visteon’s infotainment platform into a single domain controller. Visteon engineers already are working on integrating lighting, heating and air conditioning displays into near-future versions. By the early 2020s, SmartCore could be controlling telematics, advanced driver assistance system displays, augmented reality head-up displays, vehicle mirrors, surround-view cameras, driver monitoring and rear-seat entertainment — all from a single box. 

Integrating control of these functions on a single ECU reduces signal latency, eliminates excessive wiring and saves considerable weight. The hardware can be used more efficiently, eliminating the need to duplicate interfaces for memory, display and video in separate ECU boxes. With new approaches from chip designers, SmartCore can generate more computing power to drive an expanded number of functions.

Visteon has incorporated exceptional security within SmartCore™. Downloaded data needs to be signed and authorized by the car dealer. Hardware security walls are built to prevent suspicious applications from intruding into the secure portion of SmartCore™.


A new reality for autonomous driving 
SmartCore will play an important role in the transition to self-driving vehicles. When future cars are in fully autonomous mode, drivers will be able to take their hands and eyes off the road, shifting their focus to screens along the dash. They can view text, images and video there and interact with the screens, with all this functionality driven seamlessly by a SmartCore domain controller. SmartCore also will integrate input from cameras and other devices monitoring the environment outside the vehicle, so drivers and passengers can receive information about their surroundings.

In the future, augmented reality will be incorporated into the SmartCore-driven displays, presenting avatars of people, objects and virtual creations outside the car to the occupants inside. Imagine how all this integration could change your GPS display in an autonomous vehicle, adding detailed information about your destination, images of nearby attractions, audio and video. Your music player expands from showing an entertainer’s album-cover art to presenting a full-motion music video. Eventually, videoconferencing could be integrated into SmartCore, and passengers could play SmartCore-controlled games.

Additionally, SmartCore could make cars and trucks even more secure by enabling vehicle tracking, remote immobilization, remote assistance and security for shared vehicles.

With the first SmartCore-equipped vehicles about to hit the road, we’re embarking on an exciting new chapter in vehicle cockpit efficiency and integration. Watch this space closely – the story will continue to unfold as we approach the autonomous driving era. 

Waheed Ahmed oversees software architecture development of future domain controllers at Visteon. He is focused on next-generation automotive cockpits and their role in autonomous cars. Ahmed has proven leadership and R&D experience in software systems, spanning more than 15 years. Prior to joining Visteon, he worked in the semiconductor industry as an engineer, architect, and scientist. Ahmed earned his master’s degree in computer science from RWTH Aachen University in Germany. He has published six international peer-reviewed scientific papers, filed six U.S. patent applications and authored a white paper on the fundamentals of domain controllers.