Ireland hasn’t always been synonymous with automotive manufacturing. While Henry Ford did establish a factory in the land of his father 100 years ago, Ireland hasn’t had the heavy car manufacturing footprint of Detroit or Japan.
What Ireland does have is a very strong and innovative technology sector, and as the future of mobility motors towards increased use of connected, shared, autonomous and electric (CASE) vehicles, Irish companies are providing global automotive manufacturers with a range of software and hardware solutions.
This capability is being delivered across the whole CASE ecosystem spectrum, from software and data platforms, to connectivity solutions, and all forms of componentry and electronics.
It is also being provided individually and collectively through collaborative industry organisations such as CAV (Connected and Autonomous Vehicles) Ireland.
Many of these companies are new disruptors from non-automotive backgrounds but with technologies and solutions that can be applied across sectors. All of them are focused on meeting the needs of a rapidly changing industry. Here are some of the companies leading the charge.
At Cubic Telecom, the vision is to enable any connected device in a car. Their connectivity platforms overcome the technical and data issues that automotive manufacturers encounter with mobile carriers and regulators in 145 countries around the world.
Cubic CEO Barry Napier says: “Digital enablement is what we are trying to achieve. You talk to anyone at the OEMs and they’ll tell you they want to try to do more via connectivity and software. Go via the cloud, get rid of the hardware, get rid of the cost, get rid of the wiring, create the car lighter, create it faster, make it more efficient, make it safer.
“We provide the specialist knowledge around connectivity, giving them a software solution that any part of the car ecosystem can plug into.”
The right signal
Taoglas CEO Ronan Quinlan says: “There is probably a need for 30 antennas in the next generation of cars. You hear a lot of talk about connectivity, but you also need to know exactly where the vehicle is and what kind of vehicle it is, especially with autonomous vehicles. With our products, we can know where a device is within one centimetre outdoors, and two centimetres indoors.”
“Our verticals include the navigation of robotics and heavy machinery, vehicle tracking, connected vehicles, e-bikes and scooters, drones, agricultural equipment, and a range of IoT applications,” Ronan says. “Last year, for example, we sold one million antennas for positioning in robot lawnmowers.”
The artificial intelligence-based object and gesture recognition systems developed by software manufacturer Emdalo Technologies also have benefits beyond the automotive sector.
CEO Daire McNamara says: “There are solutions out there using AI and IoT that can help improve car parking, public safety, congestion detection on streets, at airports, and in subway stations.
“Our customers tend to be experts within their own field – whether that’s automotive, medical imagery, smart cities, agriculture, or whatever – but they’re not experts in AI. We work with them to determine whether an AI solution can solve a problem that they have.”
Cost saving solutions
Transpoco’s GPS tracking and fleet management software solutions offer benefits across areas including fuel consumption, vehicle maintenance, driver behaviour and administration.
CEO Andrew Fleury says: “With the Spanish national airline Iberia, for example, we get data from their vehicles on the ground at airports that allows us to really understand where savings can be generated. We can look at it by driver to driver or journey to journey together with the customer. With Iberia, we generated a 66% reduction in their vehicle running costs.”
Moulding the future of vehicles
Producing the vehicle of the future is not just about software and digital hardware. It involves rethinking every part of the traditional car, including the materials it is made from.
The company’s Vice President of Business Development, Caolan Bushell says: “Lightweight air management systems is really what we’re famous for. Companies like Zoox and Canoo have come to us to design heating and air conditioning duct systems in their cars.
“That involves a number of different technologies, which have traditionally been blow moulding but is now flow moulding, injection moulding, polyester fibre ducting, and foam blow moulding. These enhance the performance of the car, particularly the acoustic performance. It also lowers the weight of the car, which in the electric vehicle market increases the vehicle range. We’re also using recycled materials in many cases as well, which increases the environmental credentials of the cars.”