Under the hood: exploring digital transformation in automotive

Emilien Coquard
4 min readNov 30, 2022

The automotive industry is becoming more digitised as companies strive to create new technologies that can provide consumers with a better quality of life. This shift in lifestyle and technology has resulted in many benefits for the industry and consumers alike. Digital transformation in automotive has changed how a car is built, serviced by companies, and driven by its customers.

How digital transformation in automotive has led to the growth of autonomous driving

The development of autonomous driving technology has allowed cars to begin to drive themselves. Despite years of debate over the practicality of the technology, manufacturers have only recently begun implementing it. ‌ ‌

The first major auto manufacturer to bring this new technology to market was Tesla. The Tesla Autopilot feature caused a media frenzy, with Tesla owners eager to try the latest technology. There were and continue to be critics of the feature, however the evidence is clear that the technology provides safer conditions than being driven by a human.

Tesla recorded one crash for every 4.31 million miles driven using Autopilot technology. Meanwhile, they recorded a crash every 1.59 million miles for drivers without Autopilot technology. Meanwhile, more and more traditional automotive companies such as BMW are creating their own in-house autonomous driving departments. But what does all this mean for the future of the human workforce? Will smart factories and technologies like Autopilot reduce the number of jobs for skilled workers?

A recent MIT study actually states that because of the rise in these digital technologies the world will see an enormous number of high-level positions appear over the next 20 years. In fact, the study claims that the development could create approximately 300,000 dedicated positions! Autonomous driving will be a significant factor in this increase. These new jobs will involve the design and production of autonomous vehicles and their maintenance.

Fully autonomous driving technology is still in the early stages of development. Some critics are not that hopeful of the technology’s development and claim that it is decades away from being perfected. This might be true, however, we already see autonomous vehicles on the market capable of driving ‌without human input.

Multiple tests have been performed on autonomous technology, and they have proven to work very well. However, a significant amount of research still needs to be done before the technology can be applied everywhere.

As previously mentioned, Tesla has made significant progress in the autonomous industry. In 2019, it upgraded its full self-driving hardware from HW2.5 to HW3. It’s now said to have twice the computing power as before, putting it years ahead of the competition. This advancement is in large part due to the extensive machine learning that has gone into its development, allowing cars to drive around obstacles, and stop before they reach pedestrians.

Continual training via machine learning will lead to huge leaps forward for the automotive industry. This can enable autonomous vehicles to learn what actions to take in specific conditions.

The need for data security and protection in the automotive industry

As digital transformation in automotive increases, so does the amount of data produced. With this increase in data comes a rise in the need for companies to protect it from cyber threats.

‌Cybersecurity is a growing concern within the automotive industry. The most harmful threat to a company is often a cyberattack. Hackers can steal personal information and any other type of data a company holds. Unfortunately, this transformation has made the automotive industry even more vulnerable to hackers.

Auto manufacturers are working hard to protect their data systems from hackers by heavily investing in security measures, like firewalls. Vehicle manufacturers have implemented many layers of security to prevent cyberattacks on their systems and the theft of their valuable information. This includes using encryption to keep confidential data secure.

All this has been done to protect in-depth financial information and digitised vehicle assembly lines from being compromised. The stakes are high for manufacturers, but they understand that the amount of data they hold is extraordinarily valuable. Intelligent vehicles collect a lot of data, and the cybersecurity measures used to protect this data are significant.

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