Drivetrains go High-tech: Continental ties up with IIT Madras for High Performance Computing and Cyber Security for Powertrain applications


Chennai: The technology company Continental and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for joint research in and high computing platform and cybersecurity for powertrain applications.

With vehicles becoming ‘mobile devices’ with permanent and seamless connectivity, the rate of risks and security become higher, an area of concern for vehicle manufacturers. Continental takes into account security from the beginning of component development, addressing the design of the product and its architecture, and the way it is developed. The company’s joint research with IIT Madras addresses an industry white spot – cyber security for conventional drivetrains. The research will focus on intrusion detection and reporting on powertrain applications.

Fast-paced evolution of mobility technologies also demand higher computational power. Drive trains are no longer all-mechanical systems. Specifically for India, with the impending BS VI implementation, electronics content is on the rise, making higher computational power imperative. With high computing platforms, car manufactures will be able to maintain ability to compete on various innovative functions and enlarged flexibility on software development. Together with IIT Madras, Continental will conduct research on technologies that involve time deterministic behavior on powertrain controllers and its applications.

According to Soorajith Radhakrishan, who heads Continental’s Powertrain business in India, “Vehicles of tomorrow are computers on wheels, opening up areas of research hitherto unaddressed. Continental is implementing a sustainable growth strategy with a high level of investment in R&D and in capacities for future technologies. India is an important market and R&D location for Continental, and we will drive innovation from India.”

“For Continental, cyber security is at the heart of the development of products and services. We have a proactive approach that considers cyber security right from day one in product development, so that potential security loopholes do not arise. Cyber security for powertrains is still at its infancy for the industry, and as a technology company that focuses on mobility of tomorrow, this topic is important to address right now,” he added.

As explained by Girish Ramaswamy, Head of System Engineering – India, Engine Systems, Division Powertrain, “To achieve safe, secure and reliable drive train electronic systems, more sophisticated and advanced features along with higher computational power become necessary. As inter and intra vehicle networks become more complex and multi nodal, they become more vulnerable to threats. Hence, secure communication becomes paramount. This, in turn, is achieved through robust and less intrusive networks. Continental expects this collaboration with IIT Madras to address these next gen topics for drive train electronic systems.”

Says Ravindra Gettu, Dean (Industrial Consultancy and Sponsored Research), IIT Madras, “This is our second MoU for joint research with Continental this year. As an institution that is in the frontier of research, we are pleased to collaborate with Continental. Our respective areas of expertise are complementary, and I am confident of the results.” Continental’s MoU with IIT Madras earlier this year was for advanced research in machine learning and bio-inspired neural networks for Continental’s ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) business.

As mentioned by Pratyush K Panda, Assistant Professor, Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Madras, Chennai, “Our research team from IIT Madras involved in this project has made several research contributions in the inter-disciplinary area of Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS), specifically in the design of fault-tolerant, secure, and reliable systems. This project with Continental is an excellent opportunity to innovate further, focusing on the powertrain of a modern car – an area in which Continental brings industry-leading expertise. Together we are looking forward to attack two interesting and timely problems: (A) how do we achieve high performance with reliable timing guarantees on the powertrain, and (B) how do we automatically detect and flag intrusions on to the powertrain software.”

Continental’s MoU with IIT Madras earlier this year was for advanced research in machine learning and bio-inspired neural networks for Continental’s ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) business.

The technology company had recently announced investments in the country, on a high three-digit crore rupees level within the next two years in India, and a plan to increase headcount to 10,000 in the same period. Additionally, Continental Technical Center India is on a rapid growth path ramping up headcount aggressively in several technology areas, and well on its way to become a centre of competence for different technologies like Artificial Intelligence and ADAS. The company also recently announced an additional R&D facility in its existing plant in Gurgaon.

Continental develops pioneering technologies and services for sustainable and connected mobility of people and their goods. Founded in 1871, the technology company offers safe, efficient, intelligent and affordable solutions for vehicles, machines, traffic and transportation. In 2017, Continental generated sales of €44 billion and currently employs more than 243,000 people in 60 countries. In India, Continental operates across 15 locations with over 8,000 employees across 15 locations, including eight plants that cater to the Indian market, and a Technical Center that supports global R&D.