Ashish Naik: What are your roles at Jaguar Land Rover?
I’m the manager of the vehicle engineering and instrumentation teams in the Assisted and Automated Driving (AAD) department. AAD does everything from features and systems for meeting legal and national standards to research work on self-driving vehicles. My team looks after all elements of setting up production vehicles for AAD feature, system, and component testing, ranging from creating the measurement technique and ground truth systems to developing and integrating new systems, features, and sensors into vehicles for research and development. We also assist in building closed-loop vehicle setups and in training our companies’ safety drivers. I joined Jaguar Land Rover in 2004 after spending eight years working for a global powertrain consultancy doing hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) design, engine test bed support, rapid control prototype system modeling, and more. Since joining Jaguar Land Rover, I have been promoted several times, working in most roles in electrical engineering. I was responsible for all the embedded software hosted on production electronic control units (ECUs), and I managed the brakes and steering production hardware electronics and software. As you can see, you can make quite a career here. Working for Jaguar Land Rover is my dream job; I love the technology, the cars, the people, and I completely love AAD.
As a senior technical specialist for AAD in verification and validation, I support all other technical specialists and product owners with my experience, knowledge, ideas, and assistance to deliver best-in-class verification and validation of Jaguar Land Rover AAD features.
I joined Jaguar Land Rover in 2019, coming in with Tier 1 experience after working for a few automotive suppliers in worldwide locations. Joining Jaguar Land Rover was a fundamental step in my career. It provides many opportunities to influence products delivered to our end customers. I also get the privilege of working with people like Mark who are full of passion and motivation to learn, try new methods, and explore engineering solutions to deliver fully validated and verified products. These all work together to make Jaguar Land Rover vehicles easier to drive, and even more enjoyable.
AN: We have partnered on developing one of your AAD applications.
Can you share a bit about that application and its importance in the
work you do?
MK: We’re working on the next generation of AAD features that deliver the next levels of driving automation and driver support and give our customers a modern luxury experience. We are collaborating with NI to deliver solutions we need as part of an early technology partnership designed to build a core framework around standards like PXI, LabVIEW, and other parts of the wider NI ecosystem. We have been incredibly involved in the ADAS logger application development, having run prerelease versions of it for nearly 12 months.
Photo courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover
MF: We have been working hard to rationalize our toolchain and integrate several new products from NI in our development. In the AAD vehicle technology space, we must solve several use cases that include logging, calibration, rapid prototyping, simulation in the cloud, component test bench, and more. The ecosystem of tools, processes, hardware, software, storage, computing, operating systems, sensors, interface standards, synchronization, localization, and ground truth is extremely complex, even before accounting for legacy system support. As the system requirements for all these use cases get more demanding over time, we must also drive efficiency, cost reduction, synergy, and robustness into this toolchain. It’s difficult to design and deliver a toolchain that covers all the use cases while being technically advanced enough for state- of-the-art operation so that it can be delivered operational and working every day. This all has to be done without massive support infrastructure while taking the everyday knocks a real system gets. It takes time, investment, commitment, and a long-term vision to develop and deliver this system in advance of business needs. To be clear, there is only so much high-specification computing, electronic, and software technology—fully integrated and working reliably—that you can fit into one vehicle. We have learned some tough lessons over the years and have refined the approach with help from some great suppliers and partners.
AN: NI’s vision and goal is to provide a data- and software-connected
validation workflow for ADAS and autonomous driving that is enabled
by an open partner ecosystem. What’s your perspective on this?
MF: NI brought together a collection of internal technologies adapted for our domain and worked very openly with others to deliver further key elements. From the onset with NI, we were very honest about the wide scope of our use cases (see previous response) and the flexibility and scalability requirements. We have not seen all that goes on behind the scenes to build up this open partner process, but we have seen the results of it so far that have led to solutions that fit our needs very well. There are always challenges when looking at the wider automotive electronics and software landscape—challenges like file formats, interface standards, storage, camera video acquisition, and cross-domain logging synchronization. We, and the entire automotive industry, don’t have all the answers to these complex challenges yet, but the work we have done with NI and other partners in this ecosystem leads me to think that we are on the right track and can make it work when we need it to—for today and in the future.
MK: I would like to echo Mark’s response and build on it further, as partnerships have been critical for our success. Earlier this year, we announced a new partnership between Jaguar Land Rover and NVIDIA. This relationship is another significant step in our evolution toward becoming a leading high-tech company. What does it mean to become a leading high-tech company? In the past, we primarily managed innovation—suppliers provided us with their technologies and then we, simply speaking, deployed it. Nowadays, with the technology partnerships between Jaguar Land Rover, NVIDIA, and NI, we are taking significant ownership and control of innovation, which allows us to transform from what you would consider a traditional high-tech-oriented OEM to a leading high-tech company.
Photo courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover
AN: Seagate is one of the many partners that NI has brought in to
jointly tackle ADAS and autonomous driving in-vehicle data logging
with Jaguar Land Rover. How has this worked out for you so far?
What benefits have you seen up to this point?
MF: This is a great example of a partnership that has been a win-win. The use cases around storage are hard to meet and the current solutions all have compromises. It is a very specialized area at the cutting edge, and you really want a partner with scale who knows this area inside and out. NI introduced us to Seagate, and we shared with them the same vision and use case as we looked for the win-win among the three of us. I expect that we wouldn’t have considered Seagate LYVE Mobile without NI’s introduction. Furthermore, NI made it quite easy for all of us to work together as a group on our joint development.
AN: But what if you need to bring in another partner and their
technology that is not covered by the NI ecosystem?
MF: Honesty between all parties is particularly important to me. We get the best results only when everyone is honest and we all respect each other. During the early stages of working with NI, we made it clear where we found adopting NI’s ecosystem approach to be challenging, and we asked NI to work with partners that most people would consider competitors. Jaguar Land Rover wants to develop a vehicle- and domain-wide data acquisition and data handling process. To do this, we need to address existing deep integrations of other companies’ products, too. Jaguar Land Rover introduced a series of projects for which we asked NI and other companies to work together on specific proofs of concept to determine the feasibility and the gap between where we are now and where we want to be in the future. NI and the other partners made what could have been an exceedingly challenging task relatively easy. NI took a lead position as the system integrator, and everyone respected their relative technology “spaces.” The results give me as the customer and overall system integrator some interesting choices for future logging, calibration, and rapid prototyping setups. The key point that is relevant to this format is that NI listened to our needs, accepted the reality of the use cases, and worked hard to apply their technology to the problem with the other partners involved.
MK: Another notable example is the strategic partnership with NVIDIA. Though this partner was introduced by Jaguar Land Rover, the three of us quickly turned things into a coherent working model. The open technology and mindset from NI have made it very straightforward to tackle challenges together, explore new technologies, use experience from other high-tech industries, adapt quickly, check results, and then be able to react accordingly. The collaboration between Jaguar Land Rover, NI, and NVIDIA delivers many opportunities to define new standards and best practices in AAD verification and validation. Delivered solutions and methods will stay and evolve the industry for many years to come.
AN: Jaguar Land Rover is recruiting talent in various countries
globally. What should people interested in applying know about
Jaguar Land Rover as a technology company?
MK: Like I mentioned before, we have evolved as a company quite a bit and are still doing so. Previously, we were primarily looking for project or program manager profiles, as this was the primary job that had to be done when managing innovation. With the shift to a leading high-tech company and taking more control over innovation in-house again, there is the clear need for engineers like Mark and me. That means if you want to be part of developing state-of-the-art, modern luxury vehicles paired with exquisite design and end-to-end engineering, then Jaguar Land Rover needs to be on top of your employer list. Moreover, as amplified through COVID but not only driven by it, we have embarked on a “work from where you are” journey. We are creating hubs across all of Europe to allow talented engineers to work from various places such as United Kingdom, Hungary, Ireland, Germany, Spain, or Italy. This evolution allows us to be more flexible and create some nice benefits in terms of work-life balance.
MF: Like Marek has alluded to, our history, products, and brands are global icons. In one way or another, I have worked on all the products we have made in the past 10 years, and, again, I love what we do—the technology, the people, the passion. I have been working in this field for 25 years, and, today, I am doing some of the most exciting work I have ever done. Where else do you get to work with radars, scanning lasers, cameras, server-level computing, and network technology all in the context of our great vehicles? Engineers all over the world should apply to work at Jaguar Land Rover because we are doing some amazing, innovative, and groundbreaking things. We are looking for people skilled in NI technology and other hardware and software domains. We are searching across Europe but are not limited to that continent for talent. To learn more, visit jaguarlandrover.com.
AN: Thank you both for taking the time. We are thrilled to see how our partnership and the wider NI ecosystem can continue to work together to solve the challenges of the ADAS and AD validation workflow. It has been great to join forces with you on the path toward zero collisions, and, aided by our partnership, we look forward to accomplishing Vision Zero.