Anyone who’s tinkered with a car lately will know that the cars of today are not the same as those our forbearers drove. Where getting under the hood of a car once required engineering and mechanics savvy, today the same can be done with an advanced computing degree.

An apt example of the same would be Tesla bumping the power output on its entry-level Model 3 with the help of an over-the-air software update. Yes, much like our phones and other connectivity devices, vehicles are now becoming yet another computational device. A few of these embodiments include GPS navigation, radar sensors and 360-degree cameras.

Software in new cars run everything from entertainment systems to security systems.

For a brief period of time, it looked like hardware led the future of cars with each new model coming out hot out of the factory with all kinds of mechanical trickery. However, tracking the current trajectory of the automotive landscape, it seems like the supremacy of hardware is due to fade. A report titled “Global Automotive Software Market Size, Market Share, Application Analysis, Regional Outlook, Growth Trends, Key Players, Competitive Strategies and Forecasts, 2018 To 2026,” that was published by ResearchAndMarkets.com, the auto world is set to see software and not hardware, take on a key role in the automotive development going into the next decade.

The use of software to improve functionality has already enjoyed popularity in cars. Almost a decade ago, the Chevrolet Volt featured 4 million more lines of code than the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter plane. And in the following years, the amount of programming used in cars has only increased. These algorithms, as we know, run everything from entertainment systems to security systems. We are entering an era where cars can communicate between themselves in order to advance road safety for drivers.

The aforementioned report goes on to explain that the trend is set to define car development in the future and will place the Asian Pacific market at the forefront. Countries such as China and India are specially placed to take on major roles. These areas now house a number of top auto industry headquarters and have lately witnessed a significant jump in country GDP.

This would mean a higher net disposable income thereby spurring the demand for passenger cars. These factors in combination are expected to drive the automotive software market growth in the Asia Pacific region.

In 2010 the Chevrolet Volt featured 4 million more lines of code than the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter plane.

What Does This Mean For The Future?

At the outset, increased use of the software will allow manufacturers to push the boundaries of possibility for cars. In the coming decade, manufacturers will largely be dependent on software as it takes little physical space, has fewer limitations and opens up a whole lot of possibilities that lie in the hands of developers. We have seen several tech companies pair up with major automotive players to marry driving and deep learning in various ways. The most recent partnership for the same was seen between Amazon’s partnership with GM.

In addition to this, we can also expect a stronger focus on security. A major downside to heavy software used in cars is the vulnerability to cyber-attacks where hackers could take control of cars and wreak havoc on drivers and infrastructures alike. As mentioned in the report, several automakers have already begun to develop new ways to protect and secure vehicle software, in order to prevent it from hindering the progress made possible by software so far.