Why is Carmenta entering the automotive industry?
"There are many intertwined factors leading us to believe that we'll succeed. Vehicles are rapidly becoming connected and there's also the strong trend towards autonomous vehicles. However, the automotive industry is taking an infotainment and nice-to-have approach to this connected world. We have both the products and the expertise necessary to take a safety-critical approach to building management systems for a connected world. We believe that our experience will enable us to bring something new to the automotive industry," says Kristian.
Copious data to manage
The business unit at the core of Carmenta's operations is Carmenta Geospatial Technology, encompassing software components for building management systems.
"You can consider it a toolbox that is used to manage all information with geographical aspects, everything that has some sort of position in the world. And there's often a great deal of data that needs to be managed, everything from map data to the information received via radar or different kinds of sensors. This must be combined into shared situational awareness, so that you have full control over your actions, your location and where different vehicles, people or objects are found, enabling you to use the information to make decisions."
And this is something that Carmenta's software is clearly good at. Customers include Saab, Thales and Airbus – major international companies which build solutions for these types of operations.
Directing emergency service vehicles
Moreover, there is another business unit, Carmenta Public Safety and Security, for which Carmenta acts as a system supplier. They use the company's proprietary software and develop complementary software to create complete systems. As a system supplier, Carmenta's customers include SOS Alarm, the Swedish emergency services call centre provider, for which Carmenta provides the entire management system for handling 112 calls and directing emergency service vehicles to the right place in good time. Carmenta has also supplied the Swedish Maritime Administration's air and sea rescue service at Käringberget in Gothenburg, which handles air and sea rescue for all of Sweden.
"This product is also used in a number of other countries, mostly European, and is a typical safety-critical system where nothing is allowed to fail. There are an incredible number of operators sitting and using this system in different contexts," says Kristian.
Knowing what is happening one kilometre away
The expertise and products that Carmenta has in these two business units have now been introduced to the automotive industry and Carmenta TrafficWatch, where a management system for connected and automated vehicles is being developed. Carmenta's approach remains the same, to produce safety-critical systems that add additional layers of safety when operating vehicle fleets. It's based on the same idea of processing all the available information in real time in order to make the best decisions.
"When we're talking about an autonomous car, it's not enough to use the car's sensors – the cameras can't see very far, and any radar sensors might cover about 100-200 metres. But you need to know what's happening one kilometre away or five kilometres away. What's the traffic situation, is a heavy rainstorm on the way or has the road suddenly turned slippery on the bridge up ahead," says Kristian.
"There's a great deal of information that the driver needs to keep track of in a connected environment in order to make the right decisions, regardless of whether the driver is a person or a computer. We'll need a system designed to handle all this. What's more, the technology has begun to reach the maturity required to create these solutions thanks to the various cloud-based management systems available to us," says Kristian.
Where do you envisage potential customers for your systems?
"We focus solely on what's outside the car, not in-car software. Accordingly, we rely on other actors. Naturally, some of these actors are the auto manufacturers themselves, which to varying degrees create the necessary systems and connect their own cars. Then there are companies which supply the automotive industry and which in some cases will also create complete offerings centred on self-driving functions, such as Zenuity here in Gothenburg or Bosch in Europe. They could incorporate our software as part of their offerings. The third customer group comprises actors which take a system approach at a higher level than the auto manufacturers – government agencies such as the Swedish Transport Administration or actors offering smart city solutions that require an integration point to gather all the information and make decisions on an infrastructure level."
Carmenta has experience in this field as their software is used in Sweden's national traffic management system, so the company has expertise on systems of this type too.
The mobility of tomorrow today
However, these systems need a number of additional dimensions. Simply being able to see what's happening will not suffice – there's a need to start proactively managing and directing traffic.
"And in order to be able to manage and direct, you need a management system that enables you to make decisions based on all the available information. So then you need to add the connected vehicles currently in traffic to the management system."