PARIS -- Autonomous driving will become Valeo's main growth driver by 2020, says Guillaume Devauchelle, who is head of innovation at the French supplier. Valeo expects to combine its expertise in sensors, radar and other technologies to play an integral role in automakers' development of autonomous vehicles.
Devauchelle, 58, told Automotive News Europe Correspondent Bruce Gain at an event here in March that the move would change "every single product line."
Q: What are Valeo's main r&d challenges?
A: There are two. Our main missions continue to be reducing CO2 emissions and boosting fuel economy. The second is intuitive driving, which is a mix between autonomous driving and car connectivity. Everyone wants to be connected in their car, and that requires an easy-to-understand human machine interface [HMI]. Today, every automaker has to decide how to design this interface, and we believe those choices will change dramatically. Today, many drivers have their own iPhone or smartphone, and they want to use the interface they are familiar with in the car.
How would you describe the state of HMI?
If we did this interview more than five years ago, we would have referred to BlackBerry, which hardly exists as a company now compared to what it once was. The speed of evolution will change even more quickly.
In the automotive sector, the life cycles have historically been long, but the consumer-electronics interface will change much faster. To offer autonomous-driving value, we need to provide solutions that follow this trend and that remain open and compatible with developments in the consumer-electronics sectors. We need to be part of consumer electronics.
How important will autonomous driving become to Valeo?
Today, the main growth driver for Valeo is CO2 reduction. In 2020, the main growth driver will be autonomous driving. Autonomous driving will also drastically change every single product line. This does not only include sensors -- wipers, clutches, wind-drag dynamics and more will be affected. Everything will be different.
What are some examples?
Automakers will demand connected air conditioning, for example. Lighting will be different. We will need to offer lighting that will indicate to pedestrians and other drivers whether a car is being driven autonomously or not when in motion. Lighting will also need to replace human eye contact. When a pedestrian is crossing a street, for example, the autonomous car will send a light signal indicating to the pedestrian that it is OK to cross. It will do this just as a human driver would indicate that it is OK to walk across the street. I am pretty sure you will see the application by 2020. Autonomous driving is a lot more than just driving sensors -- it is about changing the car's DNA and changing every single part of the car.