Founder & Chairman of PATEO CONNECT+, Ken (Yilun) YING: Vehicles to Be All-new Life Spaces in Autonomous Driving Era

“More of an Expert in Internet than Automakers, More of a Specialist in Automobile than Internet Companies” represents how PATEO CONNECT+ defines itself. Along with the accelerated update of technologies, people have put forward higher requirements for intelligent connected vehicles (ICVs) in the new era. Founder & Chairman of PATEO, Ken (Yilun) YING (Zhenkai YING) (hereinafter referred to as Ken) said, from the business perspective, the top priority of PATEO is digging deep into the trends of intelligent vehicle (IV) software and digitalization; vehicles will become digital, programmable and software defined in the future, and also all-new life spaces in the autonomous driving era.

IV will become a multi-element aggregate

Today, in addition to the basic mechanical capabilities, intelligence will become a core competence of the automobile. Traditional automakers have successively initiated digital transformation in an all-round way to build their own software capability center. As Ken sees it, although the IoV has already been in development for 12 years, it is still in its infancy. Amidst the trend of development from entertainment to new energy, network connection and autonomous driving, the technology pathway, system, hardware, software, and standards & regulations for advancement all have to be progressively improved. “From the perspective of autonomous driving, for a long time to come, IVs will still be 'co-driven by man and machine', and more in the stage of progressive leap from L1, to L2, and L3, so it will be difficult for fully autonomous driving to be commercialized within a short time. In this process, autonomous driving and intelligent cockpit are highly connected and hard to completely decouple. When the autonomous driving era arrives, the vehicle will be not only a conveyance, but more an all-new life space.”

Ken said, “As the level of intelligence keeps rising, the identity of the vehicle is undergoing an accelerated change, from a traditional means of transportation to a third space for mobility, with a gradual decrease in the attribute of moving someone or something from one location to another, and a gradual increase in the experiential, interactive & technological attributes. In the future, it will become the third-generation intelligent mobile terminal after the PC and the smartphone, and the IV will be not merely a means for movement between two sites, but also an aggregate of the Internet of Everything (IoE) + a new space + an immersive experience + virtual reality (VR) + a mobile robot + metaverse. By virtue of superior immersion, all-round interaction from the inside to the outside of the vehicle, and the user-defined scenario, a more personalized and intelligent automotive user experience is created.”

At present, the development of ICVs has ushered in a new stage. According to Ken, “from the perspective of the development of the hardware architecture for intelligent interaction, currently hardware already boasts the CPU with high computational power, as well as high-performance GPU and NPU, including high-speed RAM and large-capacity ROM, supporting extension to multiple screens and connection with multiple cameras. With regard to software, thanks to the powerful SoC (System on a Chip), hardware-based isolation and virtualization technologies have been created, realizing the software architecture that allows(multiple operating systems (OS) to coexist; the software architecture for IVs is evolving from the signal-oriented architecture to the Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), which is more conducive to the separation of hardware and software, while reducing the difficulty of software development, allowing for flexible software deployment & update, and facilitating scalability & maintenance.”

As for how to improve in-car space in the future, Ken holds the opinion that this issue should be solved through vehicle vibration, audio, vision, and smell, combined with certain AR and VR technologies. "With the parts and components of the whole vehicle separated, it is necessary to have an immersive and ritualistic comprehensive experience to explore the space for imagination in vehicle interaction while ensuring its intelligentization."

“Currently, the financial situation of PATEO is fairly healthy.”

Over the 12 years since its founding in 2009, PATEO has developed a client base that covers various carmakers, including not only leading centrally-administered State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), such as FAW, Dongfeng Motor Corporation (DFM) and Changan, but also leading local state-owned enterprises, such as SGMW, BAIC, and BAIC BJEV; not only joint venture brands, such as FAW-Volkswagen, FAW-Volkswagen Audi and SAIC VOLKSWAGEN, but also top private enterprises, such as GWM and Geely.

Facing the different needs of different auto manufacturers for IoV services, PATEO has already gained its own experience. "Most self-owned brands mainly hope for the provision of total IoV solutions from the system planning, R&D, production and manufacturing of hardware products, to the simultaneous planning, R&D and service operation of the IoV-based TSP platforms. From the standpoint of the development of the CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Electric) vehicles, businesses in the fields like New Retail, New Finance, New Insurance and New Mobility that are based on data fusion also require the tier 1 supplier to participate in planning, R&D and operation. As for foreign luxury brands, due to the characteristics of domestic auto culture and their limited qualifications for operations in China, they prefer the tier 1 supplier to provide the R&D and operation of a series of IoV platform solutions," said Ken.

As an IoV company that attaches great importance to IPRs and technological innovation, by now, its headcount has increased from 286 in 2016 to more than 1,200, of which 85% are senior IoV R&D personnel. At the same time, it has been continuously investing more than 30% of its revenue in R&D every year, which has accumulated to more than CNY 1 billion. When asked whether PATEO is under certain financial pressure, Ken said confidently, "Currently, the financial situation of PATEO is fairly healthy."

So far, PATEO has completed two rounds of funding, totaling CNY 1.8 billion, with its strategic investors including DFM and China FAW (China FAW Group Corporation) in the OEM sector, FAWSN (Changchun FAWSN Group Co., Ltd.) in the auto parts sector, Xiaomi Corporation and Haier Capital in the IoT ecosystem, as well as other important investors like Jianyuan Capital (Shanghai Jianyuan Equity Investment Fund Management Co., Ltd.) launched & set up by STEC (Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Co., Ltd.), and CCB Trust (CCB Trust Co., Ltd.). Up to now, its IoV services have been equipped on nearly 100 vehicle models, with 200-plus vehicle variants iterated, an order amount of CNY 14 billion secured, business extended to more than 30 countries and regions, and 34 projects under development.

Committed to promoting the localization and innovative development of China's IV industry

In Ken’s plan, PATEO’s future work priorities will consist of three parts: in the bottom layer, build and improve an underlying IoV platform with PATEO’s proprietary IPRs (including software, hardware, data, and business); in the middle layer, empower OEMs with innovations in the CASE vehicles field (New Retail, New Finance, New Mobility, and New Insurance) that are based on the bottom-layer platform for them to carry out digital and software-based transformation; in the upper layer, according to the national strategy for IVs, implement the construction of smart cities (smart mobile business, smart transportation, etc.) based on the concept of Intelligent Vehicle as a Smart Mobility Space, to achieve rapid and long-lasting development.

Nowadays, the intelligent NEV market is in full swing. Since this year (2021), many technology companies have entered the car making game one after another. As early as many years ago, Ken had made it clear that PATEO would not make cars, which has remained unchanged till now. "PATEO won't build cars, but will focus on being a good service provider," he stressed again.

It is understood that a series of products developed by PATEO, such as the smart cockpit product integrating software, hardware and cloud, the mobile phone interconnection enabled intelligent connectivity system, the cloud-ecosystem integrated product, and the next-generation Qualcomm 8155 powered & multi-screen interaction featured smart cockpit, have been equipped in succession on the vehicle models and products of Dongfeng VOYAH, FAW Hongqi, Dongfeng Fengshen (Aeolus), SGMW, BAIC, ARCFOX, Huawei, and Nobo Auto (Nobo Automotive Systems Co., Ltd.), among others, with mass production realized. 

Ken said, "We hope to work with more technology companies, Internet companies and car companies to jointly promote the intelligentization and digitalization of China's automotive industry with an open attitude, co-build the smart mobility space and provide a smart lifestyle for the society, while facilitating the innovation and development of China's IV industry."

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