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Diagnostics for the future of automotive

Diagnostics for the future of automotive

As vehicles use more complex software, diagnostics must evolve, says DXC Luxoft’s Luz Mauch 

Elly Yates-Roberts |

With vehicles becoming customisable and updateable, the relationship between automakers and their customers is becoming much more direct. One area in which this shift will have a profound impact will be the field of diagnostics. Tools in use today are focused on diagnosing hardware issues, so that a mechanic can identify the location of a problem. However, as vehicles begin to incorporate more complex software, this approach will no longer be sufficient, as Luz Mauch, executive vice president of automotive at DXC Luxoft, explains. 

“With increasingly complex software being brought into the vehicle, mechanics will not be able to just view an error code and look up a solution,” he says. “They will need support, either from an expert or perhaps from artificial intelligence (AI).” 

To deliver this support, vehicles will need to be enabled with the capability to be remotely diagnosed. The vehicle would be able to monitor its own status and request repair when it identifies an issue. Furthermore, analysis of the data that a vehicle or fleet of vehicles produces could allow faults to be detected before they impact performance.  

“As automakers place priority on customer experience, remote diagnostics will enable them to deal with issues in the vehicle with minimal interaction from the consumer,” says Mauch. “Having remote diagnostic services enabled therefore significantly improves the quality of service.” 

According to Mauch, however, automakers are not yet approaching these solutions as part of a unified, car-to-cloud strategy. 

“Every automaker currently has their own custom solution,” he says. “But because most don’t handle it as a car-to-cloud feature, and an integrated part of a digital service platform, they are struggling. This is what we’re emphasising to our customers right now, and where we spend our research efforts when we’re creating solutions jointly with our partners like Microsoft.”  

DXC Luxoft leverages Microsoft technologies to help deliver innovation in fields such as diagnostics. 

“In the automotive industry, Microsoft serves our customers as a trusted enablement and technology partner,” says Sanjay Ravi, general manager of automotive at Microsoft. “We offer intelligent cloud and edge capabilities, AI, tools, and more that help companies build unique branded mobility experiences. We are thrilled to work with companies like DXC Luxoft and help them innovate services that make vehicles safer and easier to maintain. Leveraging capabilities such as predictive maintenance can help original equipment manufacturers reduce warranty costs and avoid expensive recalls by making good use of collected vehicle data.” 

In the future, remote diagnostics may even be leveraged to deliver repairs to the vehicle outside of the garage. A remote repair solution would enable non-safety critical issues to be resolved without a consumer knowing, reducing the number of trips they make to the garage. 

“Currently, if a feature isn’t working, most of the time a mechanic will change the entire control unit,” says Mauch. “In the future, issues could be resolved by remotely reconfiguring affected services or with an update over the air. It will be that easy, and we believe that the future for diagnostics will be in enabling those kinds of scenarios.” 

This article was originally published in the Spring 2021 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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