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Autonomous driving market to be battle between closed and open platform providers: Q&A with Jamie Fan from Neousys
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With autonomous driving becoming a new trend in the IT market, many first-tier IT players including Google and Nvidia have been aggressively expanding their presence in related development. Taiwan's hardware providers have played a key role in the supply chain of the emerging industry.

Digitimes recently had a chance to sit down with Jamie Fan, marketing specialist of Taiwan-based industrial PC (IPC) maker Neousys - a hardware supplier for autonomous driving platforms - to talk about the autonomous driving market's status and the company's product development for the market.

Q: What is the latest status of the autonomous driving technology development?

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A: Autonomous driving has been a hot topic in the IT industry for the past few years and car vendors worldwide have also been aggressively investing in related developments.

Currently, it is still a long way before we can see all cars feature autonomous driving functionality and drive all by themselves on the road. Most existing autonomous driving systems developed by car vendors are still just driver assistance systems.

Before we can reach the final stage of the autonomous driving development, establishing regulations and policies is the major task for governments worldwide and a necessary transition phase for the market despite the fact that the available hardware is already able to support most of the latest technologies.

Although many autonomous driving systems already feature self-driving functionality, these systems still require a driver to monitor and make decisions while on the road.

Compared to consumer-related applications, we are more optimistic about the adoption of autonomous driving functions in the commercial area. The adoption of the technology from the segment is also expected to be much faster than consumer applications since there are fewer government regulations on commercial machines.

We are already seeing broad implementation of autonomous driving technologies in the commercial sector such as industrial trucks and military-use vehicles. Military-use vehicles were one of the earliest adopters of autonomous driving technologies. Since military-use vehicles are often required to conduct missions in dangerous areas, the function is necessary to minimize the number of casualties.

Q: What are Neousys' roles in the ecosystem? What are Neousys' advantages in the competition?

A: Neousys was originally a supplier of fanless and GPU-accelerated industrial PC (IPC) products. We later crossed into the autonomous driving industry because of our experience in GPU application development.

Neousys is a hardware supplier for autonomous driving platforms. All the platforms need to collect large amount of image data to simulate the road conditions. Our high-end GPU-accelerated IPC hardware is able to collect image data from cars' external sensor radars and conduct simple analysis and then send the information to a back-end processing database to share with other devices.

We have recently partnered with a first-tier autonomous driving platform developer in China. The developer is looking to form an ecosystem for the market and has been aggressively establishing partnerships with software designers and other IT players.

Prior to the cooperation with the China-based platform developer, Neousys also established partnerships with some enterprises in the US and Japan, but not specifically about the autonomous driving products.

Because of Neousys' experience in designing fanless IPC products, our products feature better stability than those from competitors. Neousys also has several patented technologies over the hardware design that helps improve heat dissipation of its IPC products' graphics cards dramatically. One of the technologies can separate the heat generated by graphics card and by main machine so the heat does not add up together.

Neousys also has a special chassis design that helps minimize the shock the GPU received while driving. Since high-end GPUs are heavily relying on its cooling fans for dissipating heat, the fans could be easily damaged if constantly experiencing vibration.

To stay competitive, Neousys continues improving its existing technologies and has also been developing new fanless technologies for its GPU-accelerated IPC portfolio, looking to satisfy clients' demand.

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Q: How is the competition in the autonomous driving application market? What is Neousys' status in the market?

A: Right now, the autonomous driving market is filled with Taiwan's IPC and IT players. Because of its popularity, the competition has been growing fiercer every year. Demand for autonomous driving applications is especially strong in China and many China-based IT players are aggressively investing resources in related application development, looking to grab a share.

Because of China's large land mass, we are seeing strong demand coming from many of the country's traditional industries including agriculture. Applications such as manless cultivators have been enjoying strong sales because of their contribution in improving efficiency.

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The autonomous driving industry is currently still a rather closed market with car vendors all focusing on developing their own systems. To accelerate the development of the autonomous driving market, our China-based platform developing partner is trying to establish a standard so any players are able to use the platform to create autonomous driving products.

As for the competition in the upcoming years, the autonomous driving market is expected to be see two groups of players: the closed platform group of mostly car vendors, and the open platform group consisting of such firms as Google. But Neousys still hopes that there will be a universal standard for the autonomous driving applications, which will truly help accelerate the development of the industry.

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