Software-defined vehicle

On the road to the software-defined vehicle

There’s a lot of change in store for the auto industry. But what is the next “big” thing? At ETAS, we think it’s the software-defined vehicle and our team will be ready to support various software-defined vehicle development areas.

But it’s not just us. Many global automakers are looking in the direction of the software-defined vehicle as the future and a way to expand their business opportunities beyond selling vehicles alone. They look at how companies in the classic IT industry (e.g., Amazon, Spotify, Netflix) develop software and deploy it millions of times a day on billions of devices and try to figure out how to bring it to the automotive industry. Because in our industry, there is one significant challenge – safety. Cybersecurity requirements, which ETAS addresses through the ESCRYPT brand, are not the only safety factors to be considered. Application safety as well as the safety in running applications in a vehicle environment must be addressed. When someone hacks a Facebook account, it doesn’t physically harm anyone. If an application does not consider vehicle safety, there could be  significant safety implications for those in and around the vehicle. And, in classic IT, there are server rooms kept at a comfortable 68 degrees. A vehicle’s processing center has to operate in a range of temperatures.

So, while the auto industry would like to take some of the concepts from classic IT, the implementation creates challenges that need to be addressed and solved with an automotive application mindset.

Are we on our way yet?

The software of future vehicles will be developed differently. And the industry is making progress. Just look at the recent GM announcements about its new software platform, “Ulitif” and the associated business models they will bring to their portfolio. It shows the beginning of a shift from today’s traditional, model-based software development approach and tools to the way classic IT develops software.

This means we are at a paradigm shift. On the software side, we are moving toward DevOps (a combination of software development and IT operations), developer communities, open source, and cloud technologies. And on the hardware side, we may be moving from a micro-controller-only architecture to adding micro-processors and specialized GPUs (graphic processing units).

The separation of pre- and post-SOP will vanish because developers may need access to real-time fleet data, try new functions live in the field and more. This means development tools will expand from the developer’s PC into the vehicle and the cloud. On top of that, deploying solutions in the field will be required and will need to be handled by the user, not through the dealer network.

At ETAS, we are working with Bosch and Microsoft to provide the tools and services to enable this transition to an open source environment where an app can work across various OEMs and vehicle models. To make this a reality in the vehicle, OEMs and suppliers need to be OK with any app, even a competitor’s, running on their systems.

Will we get there? It’s unprecedented, but if the industry truly wants a software-defined vehicle, it’s going to have change its ways and mindset.

Would you like to discuss your particular use case or learn more about how ETAS can help you develop your software-defined vehicle? Please comment below or contact us.

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