2018.10.18

Ma Huateng: Be a Good Digital Assistant and Co-build the Intelligent Connected Vehicles Ecosystem

On October 18, the World Intelligent Connected Vehicles Conference was convened in Beijing. While making a speech at the conference, Ma Huateng, Chairman of the board and CEO of Tencent, said that industrial manufacturing is the main battlefield of the digital economy, and the automotive industry is a key sector of industrial manufacturing. Intelligent connected cars, to a certain extent, are carrying our dream of moving from a big manufacturing country to a manufacturing powerhouse. Intelligent connected vehicles are an innovative carrier of cross-boundary integration. Therefore, automobile companies should “make cars with the doors open”, and they need to build a new ecosystem through cross-industry collaboration.

Ma Huateng said that the focus of the second half of mobile internet development is on the industrial Internet. And the automotive industry is one of the key areas of Tencent’s industrial internet ambition. He believed that the future of the automotive industry requires traditional car-makers and internet technology companies to work together on three major fields: network connectivity, data processing, and security.

In the past, people and vehicle, vehicle and the environment, car-making and car-using were basically isolated, and there was hardly any information exchange between them. In the future, a car should be more than a means of transport, but also a smart mobile device. The pattern of interaction between people and vehicles will also change. Tencent has conducted strategic cooperation with a number of car-makers, including FAW, BMW, GAC, Changan, Geely, Dongfeng Liuzhou Motor, etc. Now, many models equipped with Tencent’s “AI in car” are available on the market.

The “AI in car” system developed by Tencent creates a smart interaction pattern under the travel scene. Through this system, the driver can talk with the car and express more complicated travel intentions. “A few months ago, I explained why we still haven’t launched the vehicle-mounted WeChat, as many car companies are longing for this service. I explained the reasons. Tencent always puts safety first and it is our duty to ensure safety through strict design of our services. Actually we are designing a voice interaction system aiming to help drivers to safely send and receive messages and minimize their distraction while driving. The system can also be used through buttons on the steering wheel. We also consider designing the user status prompts so that drivers can easily switch to WeChat calls when they are sending and receiving messages. At the same time, we hope the driver’s WeChat friends can allow us to locate the vehicle. Besides, voice interaction can also help users with map navigation settings”, said Ma Huateng.

In the car use scene, Wechat mimi programs will be applied in brand new ways, offering drivers smart and convenient service. For example, when users drive to the Fragrant Hills in Beijing, they can use satnav with their voice. If the system detects fuel shortage, it will automatically remind users to refuel and display gas stations along the way. After entering the gas station, the driver does not need to get off, as the mini program will automatically complete the service and payment. When approaching the destination, users can ask the mini program to buy tickets and book the parking space.

Now, a single car can generate a lot of driving and interaction data every day.The automotive industry is increasingly becoming a data-intensive industry. In order to meet the challenges of the future, Tencent is supporting auto companies in building their own IoV cloud platforms and super computing centers. Ma Huateng mentioned that Tencent is able to support car companies with its technological advantages in the core platform of autonomous driving. In particular, Tencent can provide three major platforms: high-precision map, simulation and data service. Among them, the simulation platform is created with Tencent’s advantages in game engine, virtual reality and cloud gaming technology. In the virtual environment, it can help car-makers simulate the road environment and traffic flow, and perform simulation tests, thus helping them shorten the development period and reduce testing costs.

When vehicles are connected with everything, the system security and information security of the intelligent connected cars are critical. “The security of connected cars is a matter of life and death, and we must take it seriously. In the past two years, we have conducted in-depth research on the security of connected vehicles. Our Keen Security Lab has discovered several high-risk security vulnerabilities in Tesla and BMW models, and realized remote control on their vehicles based on these vulnerabilities. But in accordance with internationally accepted practice, the Keen team reported the vulnerabilities to the two car companies and assisted them in related improvements for the safety of drivers. What the lab did was highly recognized by the two companies”, said Ma Huateng.

 

The following is the full text of Ma Huateng’s speech:

Respectable government leaders, distinguished guests, friends from the media, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon!

I’m very happy to attend the 2018 World Intelligent Connected Vehicles Conference. Today, we have government officials, experts, scholars, and representatives from various fields, including traditional automobile manufacturers, newly-established car companies, and also internet and technology companies. It can be said that the “friend circle” of the entire automobile industry has rapidly expanded, and the industrial landscape is undergoing tremendous changes which have never been seen before in the past 100 years. We have realized that “making cars behind closed doors” is no longer possible. Today, there is no single auto company that is able to possess all the resources and capabilities needed for making intelligent connected vehicles. Therefore, “making cars with the doors open” is becoming a reality, and we need to build a new ecosystem through cross-industry collaboration.

I have also noticed that the conference has proposed six new concepts. In addition to the “new ecosystem” I just mentioned, there are also “new products”, “new technologies”, “new standards”, “new models” and “new governance”. This would mean that intelligent connected cars are becoming the intersection of many innovative fields. Artificial intelligence, the industrial internet, the coming 5G era, smart manufacturing, use of new energy, intelligent transport, and smart city management are all waiting for the auto industry to make major breakthroughs and new innovations in developing intelligent connected cars.

After 20 years of development, Tencent has become an internet-based technology and culture company, and we hope to improve people’s quality of life with our internet services. Just last month, we announced an important strategic upgrade: Tencent will take root in the consumer internet, embrace the industry internet, and build a new ecosystem that connects consumers and industries (C2B). We believe that the first half of the mobile internet is coming to an end, and the second half is kicking off. The focus of the first half is on the consumer internet, and that of the second half should be the industrial Internet. The automotive industry is one of the key areas of Tencent’s industrial internet ambition. Therefore, I would like to share with you what Tencent has been doing in this area, and some of my ideas about the development of the automotive industry. I believe that the future of the automotive industry requires traditional car-makers and internet technology companies to work together on three major fields, which are network connectivity, data processing, and security.

Let’s talk about network connectivity first. It is often said that intelligence, connectivity, electrification and sharing are the future trends for automobiles. In my opinion, these trends are mutually conditional, and connectivity depends more on cross-boundary cooperation. In the past, people and vehicle, vehicle and the environment, car-making and car-using were basically isolated, and there was hardly any information exchange between them. In the future, a car should be more than a means of transport, but also a big smart mobile device. In addition, as the vehicle will gradually take over people’s driving task, the relationship between people and cars is undergoing profound changes. These changes will first lead to changes in the pattern of interaction between people and vehicles. Ten years ago, our priority was to move the important functions and services of the internet on PCs to the mobile internet. Today, young digital natives have already become the main consumers of automobiles, and they are more used to the mobile internet. And because of distractions from their mobile phone, many drivers have caused traffic jams and accidents.

In order to solve these “pain points”, Tencent’s Internet of Vehicles (IoV) team has made a lot of efforts. A few months ago, I explained why we still haven’t launched the vehicle-mounted WeChat, as many car companies are longing for this service. I explained the reasons. Tencent always puts safety first and it is our duty to ensure safety through strict design of our services. Actually we are designing a voice interaction system aiming to help drivers to safely send and receive messages and minimize their distraction while driving. The system can also be used through buttons on the steering wheel. We also consider designing the user status prompts so that drivers can easily switch to WeChat calls when they are sending and receiving messages. At the same time, we hope the driver’s WeChat friends can allow us to locate the vehicle. Besides, voice interaction can also help users with map navigation settings.

WeChat mini programs will also be used in car-using scenes. The original intention of mini programs is to connect the real world and the digital world through QR codes. Today, every effective scene based on geographical information can be regarded as a special “matrix barcode”. When a car enters a gas station, a parking lot or a tourist attraction, the corresponding mini program will automatically “wake up”, and users can use voice interaction to use the program, and they don’t need to download any application for the purpose, or to delete the app after using it. This is also what we’ve done so far in exploring the connection of “vehicles and services”. Of course, to truly realize V2X (vehicle to everything), the automotive industry still has a long way to go. It is an important part of smart transportation and smart city, relying on not only the digital upgrade of public facilities such as roads, but also the widespread application of the next generation of communications network. But more importantly, it depends on the joint efforts among the government, car companies and a great many partners in the ecosystem.

For auto companies, if they don’t want to become mere workshops in this industrial transformation, they have to realize the connection between production and consumption as soon as possible, and establish a value chain that connects car-making and car-using, thus truly reaching the end users. They can’t just be satisfied with building a complete manufacturing chain. More importantly, auto companies should consider using their manufacturing advantages to further realize the combination of hardware, software and service, and to build an ecosystem that includes these three aspects. In this sense, the production of L3 or L4 self-driving cars in the future is quite likely to be just the first step. Car companies should also create the synergy among hardware, software and service in that ecosystem. This requires auto companies to conduct cross-boundary cooperation with internet companies to gain access to massive users and the ability to provide corresponding services. In this regard, Tencent currently has more than 1 billion monthly active users as well as the ability to connect with the most abundant scenes and products in China. Besides, we are committed to creating a new ecosystem from consumption to industry (C2B). We would love to become a digital assistant to the automotive industry and help auto companies to transform and upgrade. Tencent has signed strategic cooperation agreements with a number of car-makers, including FAW, BMW, GAC, Changan, Geely, Dongfeng Liuzhou Motor, etc. Now, many models equipped with Tencent’s “AI in car” are available on the market.

Second, data processing. The automotive industry is increasingly becoming a data-intensive industry. A single car can generate a lot of driving and interaction data every day. How could the service center analyze and respond in real time? How could the R&D and design department gain insight and inspiration from massive amounts of data? In order to meet the challenges of the future, Tencent can support auto companies in building their own IoV cloud platforms and super computing centers. At present, Tencent Cloud is able to provide car companies with big data application and intelligent decision-making platforms which cover the entire industry chain including production, sales and after-sales; meanwhile, Tencent can also provide stable and reliable cloud computing for autonomous vehicles.

At the same time, Tencent is able to support car companies with its technological advantages in the core platform of autonomous driving. In particular, Tencent can provide three major platforms: high-precision map, simulation and data service. Here, I have to mention our simulation platform. Tencent has comprehensively utilized the advantages in game engine, virtual reality and cloud gaming technology. In the virtual environment, these advantages can help car-makers simulate the road environment and traffic flow, and perform simulation tests. As autonomous driving requires a lot of real road tests, Tencent’s simulation platform can help car companies shorten the development period and reduce testing costs.

Next, security. While improving the quality of life, artificial intelligence and internet have also brought us new risks and challenges. When vehicles are connected with everything, the system security and information security of the intelligent connected cars are not only something that car-makers need to master while pursuing industrial development, but the prerequisite of everything, because unlike smart phones, the security of connected cars is a matter of life and death. We must take it seriously.

In the past two years, we have also conducted in-depth research on the security of connected vehicles. Tencent now has seven security laboratories. Our Keen Security Lab has discovered several high-risk security vulnerabilities in Tesla and BMW models, and realized remote control on their vehicles based on these vulnerabilities. About the test of Tesla, researchers of the Keen Security Lab slammed on the brakes and opened the trunk of a running Tesla by remote control. These are dangerous situations that jeopardize the safety of drivers. In another test, the Keen Security Lab hacked a BMW vehicle and sent diagnostic commands to its network remotely. But in accordance with internationally accepted practice, the Keen team reported the vulnerabilities to the two car companies and assisted them in related improvements for the safety of drivers. What the lab did was highly recognized by the two companies.

Intelligent connected vehicles are an innovative carrier of cross-boundary integration. Traditional auto companies and internet-based technology companies are highly complementary. In the future, Tencent hopes to grasp the opportunities of the industrial internet and become a digital assistant to automobile companies. To this end, we must first play well the role of “connector” while supporting car companies in integrating value chains more effectively and helping car companies and users realize the connection between “people and vehicle”, “vehicle and the environment”, as well as “car production, consumption and services”. In this sense, we can also provide users with a range of digital products such as music and information, as well as abundant O2O products and services. Secondly, we must also be a good “toolbox”. Tencent will not only provide auto companies with high precision map, simulation, data services and autonomous driving technology platforms, but also help them build their own cloud platforms and super computing center. In addition, we will also help auto companies boost their security capabilities, aiming to make intelligent connected vehicles safer and safer. Finally, we hope to build a new ecosystem of intelligent connected vehicles through cooperation with auto companies and our partners.

Industrial manufacturing is the main battlefield of the digital economy, and the automotive industry is a key sector of industrial manufacturing. Intelligent connected cars, to a certain extent, are carrying our dream of moving from a big manufacturing country to a manufacturing powerhouse. Beijing enjoys great advantages in developing new energy intelligent vehicles. Last month, Tencent was issued by the Beijing government the road test license for self-driving vehicles, and two years ago, Tencent established its autonomous driving laboratory in Beijing. Also, Tencent’s main IoV business is in Beijing. It should be said that Tencent’s rapid development in the field of intelligent connected vehicles has benefited a lot from the high-caliber talents, policies and industrial environment of this city. I believe that Beijing has the determination and ability to explore a new model for the transformation and upgrading of China’s auto industry. To conclude, I wish the 2018 World Intelligent Connected Vehicles Conference a full success!

Thank you!