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January 22, 2020 26 mins

As of January 16th, 2021 PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles officially merged to create Stellantis - bringing together 14 vehicle brands across the globe. Since the recording of this episode, our featured guest Mamatha Chamarthi also assumed a new role within the organization. Mamatha is currently the Head of the Software Business and Product management P&L at Stellantis. All references to Fiat Chrysler and Mamatha’s prior role as Chief Information Officer remain as is at the time of the recording.  


The digital revolution is driving improvements in the automotive industry at unprecedented speeds. Thanks to advancements in connectivity, the car of tomorrow will have some level of guaranteed autonomy. In this episode, host Jonathan Strickland sits down with Mamatha Chamarthi, Chief Information Officer of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) - North America and Asia Pacific, to talk with her about attaining higher levels of autonomy in vehicles, getting customers to trust the technology, and how she plans to use edge-computing to update the manufacturing process.


Make sure to check out other episodes in this series featuring: Firdaus Bhathena, Chief Digital Officer of CVS Health and Rob Carter, Chief Information Officer of FedEx.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to the Restless Ones. I'm Jonathan Strickland. I've spent
the last twelve years covering technology and learning how it works,
demystifying everything from massive parallel processing to advanced robotics and
everything in between. As we stand at the beginning of
a new era of unprecedented connectivity with the rollout of

(00:21):
five G technology, I'm partnering with T Mobile for Business
to sit down with some of the visionary leaders in
tech across all industries from companies like Intuit, FedEx, many
more than play an integral part of our economy to
get a better understanding of how tech and connectivity will
change business forever. These leaders are the pioneers who don't

(00:43):
follow trends. They define them. This show is their story.
They are the restless Ones. So when you stop marching
up the videos slow boats of autonomy and you're augmenting
the human intelligence to avoid that the error rate, you

(01:07):
need that real time power in connectivity with five G
helps that real time decision making because you have near
real time processing of the data. Since the original recording
of this interview and as of January one, b s
A Group and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles officially merged to create Stellantis,

(01:30):
bringing together fourteen vehicle brands across the globe. Our featured guest,
Mantha to Mardi, also assumed a new role within the organization.
Mantha is currently the head of the Software Business and
Product Management pan L at Stellantis. All references to Fiat
Chrysler and Mantha's prior role as chief information Officer were

(01:51):
based on when the episode was recorded. In today's episode,
I said down when Manta to Martin, the ce IO
of the Art Chrysler. Manta has been at the front
end center as the automotive industry has transformed thanks to
digital technology. I wanted to get her perspective on how

(02:12):
leaders can take what could be an existential crisis of
disruption and turn it into a massive opportunity for unprecedented success,
as well as to learn how improved connectivity paves the
way for the future. Not surprisingly, much of what she
had to share complimented what I learned from our previous episode,
where I spoke with Fedexcess c I O Rob Carter.

(02:35):
He provided insight on how the transportation industry as a
whole is changing. Customer centric is key, Mobility services is key.
We have evolved to a stage now there is a
lot more sensors in the car. We are collecting a
lot of data about the car. We are collecting a

(02:55):
lot of data about the customer. Today's customer is addicted
to convenience, So we have to become customers centered because
that's that's where today's that's where we meet today's customer,
not just with the product, but the product that's summerged in.
Understanding the customer experience who's using our product is also important.

(03:22):
So how does technology play a role in that? Tech
now today impacts all aspects of the business, but then
collecting data from the product if you look at that
whole customer experience. The part one is your business. How
do you enhance and continue to protect your business? And

(03:44):
then the next is getting into incremental and also into
new business models with technology. With the data that you collect,
what can I get out of this data? Can I
give an alert to the driver that you're brake pads
are waiting out And by the way, I have ordered
a new set of brake pads at this particular dealership

(04:07):
which is on your way to work. And if you
drop off your vehicle or do you want at an
extra cost that service to come to you, but having
more sensors and vehicles collecting data as well as we're
now firmly in the era of big data where we
can analyze for patterns that before would have never even
emerged for us. I've heard you say before that the

(04:28):
automotive industry, if you look at the classic industry, was
all about mechanical engineering, and now it's really computer science.
Can you talk a little more about that transformation and
what you have seen in your career, how that transformation
has sort of progressed autonomous, connected electric and shared mobilities
like aces or case um. How would you say it

(04:52):
is causing a tsunami of disruption. Each one of these
trends in itself is a massive disruption or a disruptive force.
But what's happening is these forces are converging and all
of this is possible because of where we are with technology.
When you talk about artificial intelligence, we have been in

(05:14):
there in the I T world. We have been talking
about artificial intelligence for a very long time. But today
we are able to take all of that data, analyze
that data, form patterns with that data, start going from
historical reporting to predictive and prescriptive because we have the

(05:36):
right kind of computing power and the right kind of storage,
and the storage is now much more affordable, and computing
is also much more affordable. Autonomy will not be possible
without these advances and technology. Just look at today, If
you look at the automotive industry, one point two million

(05:56):
people die every year, and of this is because of
human error. And what can artificial intelligence and the storage
and computing at the edge can unleash in terms of
the power in augmenting human decision making, keeping you in
the lane so that you're not distracted and you're you know, uh,

(06:21):
changing the lane unintentionally and hitting someone or applying an
emergency brake, and you know, having a car come to
a scan still because you're going to go hit someone.
That kind of augmenting technology, augmenting human decision making. How

(06:41):
do you anticipate Fiat Chrysler taking advantage of the rollout
of five G networks in an effort to sort of
enable these technologies we've been talking about that are primarily
intended to remove that nine percent human error that uh,
that's I mean, that's just such a looming stay his
stick and to get that number down even a little

(07:02):
bit would be a phenomenal, phenomenal uh feet. So how
do you think Chrysler will be leveraging five G as
it evolves in the future in order to attain those goals.
I think when we talk about level four and level
five autonomy, I think that's where I think, even in
the earlier cases of autonomy, it's important to have five

(07:25):
G and to have persistent, reliable communications. But I think
with the complete autonomy, you need a lot more persistent connectivity.
So let's take the um connected connected autonomous car. If
the car knows that it's going from point eight to

(07:51):
point B, and it knows that it's constantly adapting for
the optimal route, and it's collecting the data from not
only um it's surroundings, but from the infrastructure and the
weather information and everything that the car needs to know

(08:15):
to take the person safely from point A to point
and such kind of persistent connectivity will help right to
not only find the most efficient path, so to reduce
the carbon footprint. So when you start marching up the
various levels of autonomy and you're augmenting the human intelligence

(08:35):
to avoid that the error rate, you need that real
time power and connectivity with five G helps that real
time decision making because you have near real time processing
of the data. I think technology is such a critical
enabler across all four of the trends. With connectivity, we've

(08:58):
already gone from where we have level one connectivity just
having connected connectivity at the hardware level two. Now we
are moving into much more personalized service. Do you want
to use the native voice functionality in the car or
do you want to connect your Alexa profile to the

(09:20):
car and use Alexa to wake up your car, or
better yet, use Alexa's embedded code and name your car
whatever you want to name it. You want to call
your car Bob, you won't say hey, Bob, wake up,
and then it knows that you're trying to activate the
voice on the car. So that is the personalization to

(09:41):
then moving to convenience. I know where you are. I
know with all these senses that are there on your
body and in the car, that you're hungry, or you
have a medical emergency that I'm sending in the event
of a medical emergency, I'm sending an ambulance to you.
The it some level of information to whoever are the

(10:04):
medical technicians that are coming to you saying this is
what we have collected through the census in the car
on the body, right, and then move to electrification. Electrification
is not just about the power train in the car,
but if you are running out of charge, leading the

(10:25):
car to a safe place so that you can charge
the car, and then shared mobility was possible for Uber
or anyone because of technology. Right. So technology is playing
a central role in almost all of the disruption that
we are seeing in the automotive industry. And that's why
the tech industry is taking such a keen interest because

(10:46):
they know how to take data, create patterns with the data,
and provide convenience features. Yeah, I've noticed that, and I've
said this that that cars I think kind of represent
the tip of the spear when it comes to to
a lot of the technologies you were specifically alluding to.
What would you say is the most exciting thing from

(11:08):
your perspective with the way digital technology is is integrating
into the automotive industry in general, I think if you
look at today there you know, software is becoming a
lot more embedded in the car than before. Today there
are about hundred million lines of code in the car

(11:31):
and with complete autonomy, which is level four level five
autonomy in the car, we're talking about three hundred million
lines of code, so that means an increase of sensors
collecting the data. And I think for me, the most
exciting is when this technology starts making an impact on

(11:52):
saving human lives. When this technology starts making an impact
on avoiding traffic congestion or managing the traffic flow and
improving the productivity, that's great insight as well. We'll be
right back with more of my conversation with Manta Chi
Marti right after the break. If there's one thing most

(12:15):
businesses can agree on these days, it's that change has
never come about so quickly. New ways of working have
become the norm. As a result, the status quo no
longer cuts it when it comes to helping businesses adapt
and innovate. That's why T Mobile for Business uses unconventional
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(12:36):
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It's just one reason they're better able to help businesses
solve the real world challenges they face as they evolve.
For instance, their new w F x solutions help team
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(12:57):
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(13:18):
five G network based on average speeds. USA five G
User Experience Report January. Capable device required coverage not available
in some areas. Some users may require certain planner features
see T mobile dot com. So we've talked a little
bit about the fact that computing has progressed to a
point and the storage has progressed to a point where

(13:41):
edge computing is now a real possibility in lots of
different implementations. Underlying that, as you mentioned earlier, obviously the
network connectivity is has been a limiting a factor for
quite some time, but now we're starting to see the
rollout of things like five G. We're gaining that that
low latency, high data throughput network connectivity. How do you

(14:06):
foresee that playing a role in the automotive industry moving forward.
I think for us to reach that nirvana of level
four five autonomy, persistent reliable communications is also a critical enabler.
That's why in the aces, connected is also enabling force

(14:29):
for autonomous electric as well as shared because the foundational
trust when someone gets into a car as a driver
or as a rider is that they would safely go
from point A to point B. And when you're talking
about that level four level five autonomy, there there is
no driver. Okay, when there is a loss connectivity, the

(14:50):
driver is able to make the decisions. So you don't
have that human driver anymore, and so you cannot have
that loss of connectivity or have those dead zones where
the car is no longer connected, because the car has
to be connected all the time. That reliable, persistent connect
connectivity is important. Of course, we will have um fail

(15:13):
proof in case of loss of connectivity. What are the
redundancy that will take over? Even in level four five
cases of autonomy, we'll see that. But I think five
G will help us. In addition to the computing and storage,
five G will accelerate, so that would be from a

(15:35):
pure technology standpoint that will help us accelerate autonomy. And
then of course there is will humans trust this technology
and get into that level four or five autonomous car,
and then would that be affordable in terms of personal consumption.
So I feel like like that combination of the computing,

(15:56):
the storage, and the connectivity together all that had to
happen for that to become a possibility that very intelligent
people knowing how to leverage it. So not just having
the tools there, but how do you use the tools
to make something meaningful. I'm focusing a lot on the
consumer side simply because that's my perspective. But then I
sit there and think about the back end, about everything

(16:18):
that has to happen in order for the manufacturing part
of the process, the delivering vehicles to dealership sort of process.
If you look at the manufacturing side of the automotive,
and there are a few things that are happening and
that will continue to evolve. The edge computing that we
talked about for the car will happen in the manufacturing

(16:40):
space too. In the manufacturing we still have a lot
of um legacy systems, mainframe systems, local data centers. All
of those are a lot of costs overhead that we carry,
and I think those will go away with edge computing
and the data processing. Now we talked about just the

(17:03):
car being connected, there there are There is every physical
object now embedded with intelligence. So it's not just the car,
it's the entire infrastructure that we're talking about while the
car is driving in a city. As we talked about
smart cities, smart infrastructure, smart you know roads, smart everything.

(17:23):
If you have a mechanical object, how can I embed
intelligence into it? Now, take the same thing to the
manufacturing floor as your product is getting built. How can
you collect the intelligence and stop when you see anomalies
in the product so that you can avoid rework, you
can avoid scrap everyone in visus or ways millions of

(17:48):
dollars in that space. And as today the car is
only used with seven percent of the time. The rest
of the time it's sitting in a parking lot or
you know, garage or somewhere. But shared mobility, of course,
the utilization has gone up. But what if shared mobility

(18:09):
goes up or you know haaling right sharing, all of
those things they go up, and the utilization of the
car goes up, and if the product continues to break
down because it's increasingly utilized. It's not a good thing.
But how can we then take that into the manufacturing
and improve the quality of the product as it's being built.

(18:35):
So that's kind of an impact on the manufacturing side.
The other side is having transparency into the sourcing of
raw materials, where exactly are they coming from, and when
you have an issue, tracing it back to not only
this is the assembly line it was built in and

(18:57):
here's where the materials came from. We'll help you quickly
identify and get to the root cause of the issue.
So having that and newer technologies like blockchain enable that.
So a lot of coffee companies are using understanding the
sourcing of coffee beans. Now take the same logic to
the sourcing of raw materials in automotive. That surely is

(19:20):
a great possibility. And the whole vertical supply chain that
we have in the auto industry, oh em tier one,
tier two, tier three, that kind of is changing. Also.
It's not only these kind of tier on tier two,
but it's building an ecosystem bringing tech companies together with

(19:41):
your traditional suppliers, together with the semiconductor companies. So it's
it's with data aggregators. You're building an ecosystem along with
your customers so that you can co create the products together.
So there's so much that's changing, and they enabler being

(20:01):
that technology. I'm almost speechless. Let me ask you this.
We're going to transition now into thinking more about the future.
We've talked a little bit about it so far. It's
unavoidable when we talk about tech. We're really going to
focus on it now. So conservative estimate, when do you

(20:24):
think we hit that level four or level five autonomy? Oh?
This is this is a question that gets asked very frequently.
When is it? I think if you look at this
wasn't this was a year where kind of reality set

(20:45):
in for us. If you look at seventy six eighteen,
there was a lot of optimistic estimates when we will
see level four and level five autonomy. So level four,
level five? What autonomy depends on three conditions. The first
thing is technology, As I said, it's not just computing

(21:07):
in storage, but connectivity is also important, so with five
G So that's technology. And then technology along with regulation.
So if you have regulators saying, um, I want to
lower the carbon footprint in the cities, and I want

(21:28):
to make it almost zero. And you already see many
cities saying that we want zero carbon footprint. So technology
and regulation is one um perspective. The second is people
adopting this. You could have the technology, you could have
the regulation, but I should feel comfortable getting into that car.

(21:52):
So it's that human psychology. One is the behavior. Can
I get into that car? But once I get into
that car, because I can't out anticipate every road bump,
would I become nauseous? So making advances again, going back
to technology, making advances in transmission to a point where

(22:13):
my right is really smooth. That's the second adopted the
human adopting the technology trend. And the third aspect is affordability. Right,
can I afford with all of these technology advanced technology
within computing everything that we talked about, it is not cheap.

(22:37):
So can individual can I afford just for myself an
autonomous car? Maybe if I am a billionaire that is
interested in such kind of trying autonomy, maybe yes, Um,
But I think the first occurrences of autonomy level four,

(23:01):
level five would be what would be the most economical
usage of it. That would be robot taxis in geo
fenced applications like in the airport's we no longer think
that the train that we take in the terminals from
terminal to terminal or to the rental car place is autonomous, right,

(23:22):
so defined path it's going every day and we trust
that it's going to take us safely. That foundational aspect
of safety is important, and so I think the first
occurrences that we would see in the near future would
be around robotaxis, and then it would be mixed mobility
solutions as we evolve in the next ten fifteen years,

(23:47):
having a whole combination of vertical liftoffs to full autonomy.
As I mentioned, we are at the second greatest inflection
point in terms of transportation. So it's really exciting looking
forward into twenty five how we would be traveling, it's

(24:08):
just excites excites me. And how we can be shaping
this as we at Chrysler is just mind blowingly exciting.
That's fantastic, Thank you so much pleasure than Mantha is
the type of leader who thinks in terms of solving problems,

(24:32):
and when those problems include preventing unnecessary deaths, reducing environmental impact,
preparing our cities of the future to handle even larger populations,
all while keeping customers in mind and making sure that
the back end operations are efficient processes. You really begin
to appreciate the scales involved. We're seeing the pieces we

(24:53):
need to create working solutions. The increase in computing processing
power and speed, paired with verse little data storage options
and enabled through high speed, low latency connectivity can get
us to the future that Mantha envisions. Inter next episode,
we'll be speaking with for us Pathana, the Chief Digital
Officer for CVS Health, to see how digital technology is

(25:15):
fueling an enormous transformation within the healthcare industry in ways
that will impact millions of lives. Join us for that episode.
This has been The Restless Ones, a production of T
Mobile for Business and I Heart Radio. These days, new

(25:39):
ways of working have become the norm, and the status
quo no longer cuts it when it comes to helping
businesses evolve and grow. That's why T Mobile for Business
uses unconventional thinking to help businesses sees innovation only. T
Mobile offers America's largest and fastest five gene network, which
makes their new WFX solutions possible. Letting busy this is

(26:00):
stay connected and productive where work happens. See what T
Mobile for Business can do for you at t mobile
dot com. Slash Unconventional Open Signal awarded T Mobile Fastest
five G network based on average speeds. USA five G
User Experience Report, January. Capable device required coverage not available
in some areas. Some users may require certain planner features
see t mobile dot com
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