Software-only in the automotive industry

automotive industry

Software-only companies in the automotive industry

 

Software-only companies are entering the automotive industry. Is this the automotive future? However, there are some barriers to entry. Here are the key takeaways from Deloitte’s automotive software vision.

Amid the Covid-pandemic there has been an increase of possible scenarios about the future of the automotive industry. An industry that is so important that certain countries link a significant part of their GDP to it.

When it comes to imagining the future of the automotive industry, experts agree on at least three forces of evolution. The first is autonomous driving. The second, emission regulation and a shift towards electric vehicles. The third is the need for standardization and security.

The recent Deloitte article is analyzing future strategic options for software-only automotive companies. What changes for these companies, where is their role, and what barriers to entry do they face in the near future? Especially, now that the automotive industry is at a turning point.

The future of the automotive industry – Key takeaways

Technology companies entered the automotive industry and changed its course

The course of classic automotive player’s strategy has changes when big technology companies entered the industry. These companies introduced the concept of software-driven E/E (electric and electronic) vehicle architecture. And now the whole market is evolving with this concept soon at its core. Also, these technology companies pave the way for automotive software-only companies around the world, like software outsourcing companies, that support the biggest players in this shift. There is a need for more standardization and highly qualified talent.

Standardization is not a new concept in the automotive industry. However, keeping up with the pace of change in this competition-based industry is difficult. But the necessity is simple. Players in the industry, whether hardware or software, need to create pieces that will fit in many puzzles. This means independent applications, increased scalability, and outsourcing for third parties that have strong software engineering skills.

Ever-increasing on-board processing power and data flow capacity

New software features and products need increasing processing power. Advanced driver assistance systems, infotainment systems, head-up displays, and battery management systems all require a lot of processing power.

Furthermore, vehicle-connectivity increases as well. Plus, as vehicles level-up with autonomous driving, there is even more need for processing power.

From ECU to DCU to VC

It all started with a closed system, based on function-specific ECUs. Then their number grew with the required processing power. Now a modern vehicle has around 100 ECUs. These evolve into a few DCUs (domain-specific control units) and in the future the electronic architecture shifts toward a central or just a few domain-independent vehicle computers (VCs).

Challenges that software-only companies are facing

  • As the complexity of the industry increases so does the barrier to entry for software-only companies in this industry.
  • The shift from software embedded in hardware systems to independent software is changing the pricing approach, making providers vulnerable to the client’s perceived value of the product.
  • Big investment and a longer amortization which means higher financial risks.
  • Lack of stability and predictability in customer-requests.

These are some of the biggest challenges for software-only companies that are willing to enter the automotive industry. However, as the request for higher connectivity increases so does the need of the automotive industry for software companies.

AROBS and the automotive industry

AROBS is a software development company with a focus on automotive technology outsourcing, with over 20 years of experience. It was listed four years in a row in the Deloitte Central Europe Technology FAST 50.

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Image source: Pixabay

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Software engineering and space

software engineering and space

Software engineering – is the software that sent the astronauts into space really rocket-science?

 

Software engineering paved the way for the historic launch by NASA x SpaceX. It was the Millennials’ chance to witness what their parents watched in 1969.

Over 34 million people watched the launch of astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley into space on Saturday, 30th of May. This is the number of views on NASA’s Facebook live alone.

software engineering space

Photo credit: NASA

The purpose of this launch? A test flight to validate the crew transportation system of SpaceX. Furthermore, NASA, SpaceX, and Boeing are working on reliable and economical transport systems to low-Earth orbit.

This is the first time in history that NASA launched astronauts into space using the system of a privately owned company. 

And high-level software engineering made this possible.

But where did this all start?

The woman behind the beginning of software engineering

It all goes back to the Moon-Landing. Margaret Hamilton, a computer scientist at MIT, at that time leader of the Software Engineering Division, oversaw the team developing the software needed for Apollo 11. They have created the Apollo program guidance system. This system was responsible for guiding, navigating and controlling the spacecraft using the astronauts’ input. This computer needed to operate without any error.

Furthermore, this system needed to detect any errors and recover from them in real-time. It needed to be adaptable, hence, asynchronous. This means that jobs are prioritized in order of importance.

Her work was instrumental for the successful landing of the first people on the Moon. Also, no bugs were ever found in this in-flight software.

See below Margaret with the whole code for this history-changing mission.

software engineering Margaret Hamilton

Photo: MIT Museum

Software engineering

Hence, Margaret Hamilton was NASA’s first-ever software engineer. She was also the person who coined the term in an effort to legitimize the important work of the crew that developed the software for this mission.

“I fought to bring the software legitimacy so that it—and those building it—would be given its due respect and thus I began to use the term ‘software engineering’ to distinguish it from hardware and other kinds of engineering, yet treat each type of engineering as part of the overall systems engineering process.”- said Margaret in an interview.

Software used by SpaceX for the rockets

Much of the information about the software used in this historic launch of NASA and SpaceX is classified, hence not available for the public. However, a few years ago software engineers from SpaceX disclosed some of the operational systems and programming languages that they use.

This information might come as a surprise to most of the developers making up the IT ecosystem globally. Most of the operational systems and languages used by SpaceX software scientists are available to any software developer.

Linux, C++, LabVIEW

Linux

SpaceX uses Linux as their main operating system.

C++

The programmers use C++ as their main programming language. C++ is a very popular programming language with an already highly developed ecosystem. This way SpaceX can benefit from the greatest C++ developer talents and can use code that has already been written.

Furthermore, they use a C and C++ compiler (gcc) and debugger (gdb).

LabVIEW

According to the SpaceX engineers, the team that is responsible for Ground Software uses LabVIEW, a graphical programming tool. They develop the Graphical User Interface used in Mission and Launch control. This way engineers can monitor the vehicle’s telemetry and can command the rocket, the spacecraft, and other equipment.

In addition, the engineers use C#, MSSQL, Javascript, LESS, Python, and many more from large scale applications to small embedded computing.

SpaceX – an inspiration for AROBS

When it comes to these technologies, especially C++ and Linux, the AROBS embedded teams have great expertise. Also, functional safety standards used in aeronautics are now an important part of automotive software engineering.

Here, over 400 engineers work on embedded systems for the automotive industry.

Their know-how in C and C++ programming languages, but also in Model-based development tools like LabVIEW, Matlab TargetLink, IBM Statemate, plus their capabilities to build advanced software architectures and design in Enterprise Architect or IBM Rapsody, but not only, enables progress for top companies in this industry.

More so, they develop software for almost any platform (Linux, Windows, RTOS). 

Projects like the ones SpaceX develops are a childhood dream for many software engineers at AROBS.

But, read more about what they do when it comes to engineering services.

Special thanks to Margaret Hamilton, for her life’s work and legacy that made this discipline of software engineering possible.

Image source: Pixabay

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Automobile engineering – 3 short TED talks

automobile engineering

Automobile engineering – 3 short TED talks to inspire you

 

Automobile engineering is a field for the future. However natural it seems to us to drive and have cars around these vehicles represent freedom. But what about people who cannot see? And what about the traffic jams that seem to slow us down, no matter the performance of our cars? Furthermore, how about cars that avoid accidents?

Engineers and dreamers have long been creating the future for us. In automobile engineering, however, they step up the game. They change not only the vehicles but the whole traffic. Hence, our whole society.

So, here are 3 TED talks that will inspire you about the future. Especially in times like these, where imagining the future seems hard to do.

Automobile engineering – imagining the future

A driverless world – by Wanis Kabbaj

Automobiles are engineered to be faster, more efficient, and more attractive. But what is the use of them being faster if the speed that we are driving them is the equivalent for a horse carriage, due to heavy traffic? This is one o the questions that Wanis Kabbaj is asking and answering in this talk.

 

The problem is that, unlike the blood vessels in our body, our traffic is designed mostly for the surface of the ground. Therefore, there is very limited space for expansion. So, how about we think more about vertical traffic?

Also, did you know that about 30% of urban traffic is generated by drivers looking for a parking spot? No matter which urban area you live in, you have been a part of this 30%. So, you know exactly how it feels.

But with efficient use of the space, say a modular driverless vehicle a lot of our problems would disappear.

How do self-driving vehicles see – by Sajan Saini

But how would self-driving cars see? Does it seem too complicated? Watch this 5-minute video that will make everything clear. Automobile engineering is fascinating.

Automobile engineering - self-driving cars

Well, it needs “eyes” which means smart sensors that will detect everything in the environment to guide the vehicle. However, the challenge is that it needs to react to input data in a split second. Otherwise, the reaction time’s length might cause accidents. But integrated photonics come to the rescue.

Automobile engineering for the blind – by Dennis Hong

Making a car for blind drivers didn’t seem like a real challenge for automobile engineers like Dennis Hong and his teams. Well, only at first glance. But why? Because it wasn’t about driverless cars, it was about the blind driver making decisions in real-time.

Automobile-engineering-cars-for-blind-people

For this, there is a need for something different. A need for non-visual user interface technology. Some high-tech automobile engineering, starting with three-dimensional pinging sound systems, vibrating vests, click-wheel, and voice commands to special shoes that apply pressure to the foot.

The output is revolutionary. The satisfaction is incredible. Watching the first blind driver experience finishing an obstacle-filled route that brings him to tears.

Automobile engineering expertise

The incredible potential of technology is all around us. Besides comfort, it adds value to our lives. It makes ideals like freedom and independence available to the ones who couldn’t have even imagined it before.

Especially due to automobile engineering, which had an incredibly fast evolution, these are attainable to everyone.

At AROBS there are special teams designated to automotive engineering with over 20 years of experience in this field. Enthusiastic people who believe in the positive power of technology. Their expertise on Light Control Units, BCMs, software driver systems, powertrains, infotainment systems, advanced driver assistance has helped top automotive brands enable innovation.

Do you have a dream for the automobile industry?

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Light Control Units

Light Control Units LCUs

Light Control Units

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Light Control Units or LCUs creates intelligent lighting with innovative control concepts.

Innovation in the automotive industry has accelerated in the recent years. Demand on the market focuses on comfort, safety and security. 

Light Control Units are responsible not only for the vehicle’s lighting but for all signaling. Thus, it is essential for the safety of the driver. Also, for the safety of circulation.

However, with technology evolving, LCUs surpass their classical use and become an essential part of modern automotive system design.

LCUs automatically select the light pattern e.g. for weather situation. Additionally, they offer adaptive front lighting systems. Also, adaptive driving beams. Therefore, it is a modern feature of vehicles that are focused on the  customer’s experience.

Light Control Unit – global automotive lighting market

The size of the automotive lighting market, globally was about 18 billion two years ago. It is estimated to reach almost 29 billion in 2026. This growth also indicates the great demand for innovative technologies concerning automotive lighting.

The future of automotive lighting and thus, Lighting Control units will about recognision. Hence, it will not only increase the safety of traffic and the driver but  it will also regulate energy consumption. 

Our LCU expertise covers:

AUTOSAR compliant projects
ISO 14229 (Unified Diagnostic Services)
Basic software (basic layer)
CAN interfaces configuration
RTE configuration

We provide customized software, hardware, mechanical design solutions and system testing for the most diverse vehicle architectures and OEM strategies.

Find out more about what we do when it comes to automotive engineering, here.

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AUTOSAR compliance

AUTOSAR

AUTOSAR compliance

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The AUTOSAR (AUTomotive Open System ARchitecture) standard is a worldwide development partnership that aims to establish an open and standardized software architecture of Electronic Control Units (ECUs).  It opens opportunities for innovative automotive electronic and software systems that improve performance, safety, and environmental compatibility. 

AUTOSAR Benefits

The greatest benefits of using the AUTOSAR standard are standardization, re-usability of the software components and scalability

Through these the stakeholders save important time and money. Furthermore, it brings higher performance.

The newness it brings is in its layered architecture. The impact of any change in the processes is minimal. Classically, any change in the process required changes in all interconnected areas. With the layered architecture of AUTOSAR any change impacts only the layer is directly connected with. Thus, other layers are intact.

Supposedly there is a need to add a new software component. Using the standard, the focus will only be on implementing the inside algorithm, without having to adapt to the OEM environment.

Moreover, the software is completely independent of the hardware. Consequently, the software components don’t need to be redeveloped in accordance the underlying hardware component. Hence, these can be used again.

Read a comparison of using and not using this standard here.

Certainly, our software follows the AUTOSAR standard.

AUTOSAR Capabilities:

Classic Platform

Modules: Rte, Os, Dem, Dcm, Com, Nvm, Fee, CanIF, CanTP, PDUR, GPT, LIN, drivers

Tools:  Custom AUTOSAR configuration tools, EB Tresos Studio, Vector DaVinci, AUTOSAR Builder

Project experience: Body Controllers (BCMs), Car Access ECUs, Gateways, Drivetrains, Infotainment, Automotive radar sensors, Keys, Instrument clusters

Also, AROBS internal trainings on automotive cover basic and medium know-how on this standard.

We provide customized software, hardware, mechanical design solutions and system testing for the most diverse vehicle architectures and OEM strategies.

What about Electric Vehicles? Read more here.

Find out more about what we do when it comes to automotive engineering, here.

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Software driver development

Software driver development

Software driver development

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Software driver development is one of the basic parts of the automotive system architecture.  It allows programs to access hardware. Hence, it provides a software interface, to which the hardware is connected. 

Through software drivers, the user of the vehicle can make a command that translates to the driver.

Software drivers development – enabling  commands

Software driver development requires a very good understanding of software and hardware. Erroneous programming can crush a system. Hence, these tasks require automotive engineers.

Since software drivers enable hardware, there is a symbiosis between software and hardware, which leads to the same between the vehicle and the driver. 

As automotive technology evolved rapidly, so did the independence of the driver. With complex driver-assistance systems (ADAS) many essential driver functions are being assisted or even automated. 

The ADAS market is estimated to reach over USD 130 billion by 2027.

We specialize in software with expertise in the automotive industry. 

 Microcontroller Drivers:

  • GPT Driver – Initializes GPT, performs timer count Communication Drivers
  • LIN Driver – Initializes LIN, performs LIN input/output I/O, Drivers
  • PORT – Performs MCU pin settings (I/O, shared functions)
  • Digital Input / Output – Performs port signal input/output
  • Analog Digital Converter – Device driver using on-chip MCU time
 

Software driver tool chains:

Greenhills GHS and GHS Multi IDE

RenesasE1 on-chip debugger QAC, Cantata, Enterprise Architect

Find out more about what we do when it comes to automotive engineering, here.

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Powertrain – Engine systems

Powertrain, Engine systems

Powertrain – Engine systems

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Powertrain – Engine systems – the essence of a vehicle.

The automotive industry started with a powertain. It is the muscular system of a vehicle. Thus, it incorporates all components that transform the power of the engine into movement.

Powertrain market

There is a constant need for better engines that are not only more efficient in performance but also environmentally. Thus, the powertrain market is estimated to grow to over 600 billion by 2023.

A very important sub-sector of this is powertrains for electric vehicles. There is an incredible demand for these typs of engine systems. 

The main components that are responsible for generating power need software development as well. Our expertise incorporates application for both ICEs (Internal Combustion Engine) and PHEVs (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle.)

Our engine systems expertise covers:

  • basic software (basic layer)
  • drivers for peripherals and microcontroller software for engine control
  • generic software
  • drivers of pulse generation and measurement
  • communication drivers (FlexRay) and application modules (auto-coding with MatLab)
  • fully AUTOSAR compliant projects
  • application software
  • Inter system communication
  • Universal Diagnostic System (UDS)
  • CAN, LIN, FlexRay interfaces configuration
  • functionality of ECU hardware components test
  • ECU test software development

 

Powertrain applications:

Engine systems (Internal Combustion Engine):

Engine control, 14V Network Management, Failure Manager

PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle):

High Voltage Network,  Manage High Voltage Battery, Manage Cooling, Failure Manager, Invertor Motor Control, Charge Management 

We provide customized software, hardware, mechanical design solutions and system testing for the most diverse vehicle architectures and OEM strategies.

Find out more about what we do when it comes to automotive engineering, Engine systems here.

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Infotainment – Secondary displays

Infotainment, secondary display

Infotainment – Secondary displays

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Infotainment or secondary displays assure connectivity and the best possible enjoyment when on the road, from radio to getting online.

Everything that the driver needs for entertainment he/she can now enjoy in the car. 

Even though infotainment systems are relatively new to vehicles their popularity is growing. Therefore it is one of the keys driving demand. However, besides entertainment, it provides essential data as well, like navigation. This is how infotainment is a combination of information and entertainment.

Since demand is growing, so does the market. It is estimated by MarketsandMarkets that the infotainment market will reach over USD 30 billion by 2022.

Infotainment is the key to the future in-car experience

With the dawn of IoT and Artificial Intelligence, the in-car experience will drastically change. Simple head-up displays, navigation or multimedia support will be replaced by increasingly complex connectivity based on user experience. 

Infotaiment will be a key factor in enhancing the independence of the driver. Autonomous driving and advanced driver-assistance systems are already taking charge of many car features. Thus, the driver has more time to focus on other things while driving. Also, minimizing human error, it increases the safety of the passengers.

Our secondary display expertise includes:

  •  Connected radio 
  •  Navigation
  •  Multimedia systems
  •  Embedded telematics (remote update SW, remote diagnosis, eCall)
  •  Device connectivity
  •  Software & special solutions (Integrated third-party Bluetooth stacks)
  •  Multimedia (audio/video) backend – playback and indexing of media files (with Tracker from Gnome)
  •   Device connectivity – Integrated modules for CarPlay, Android Auto, MTP, UPNP, Bluetooth
  •  Voice notes
  •  Speech to Text

 

Technologies for infotainment:

  • Linux
  • Genivi
  • ARM
  • VMOST
  • DBUS
  • RTOS

We provide customized software, hardware, mechanical design solutions, and system testing for the most diverse vehicle architectures and OEM strategies.

Find out more about what we do when it comes to automotive engineering, here.

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Instrument and Driver’s HMI

Instrument and driver's HMI, Head-up display

Instrument and Driver`s HMI

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Instrument and driver’s HMI (Human-Machine interface), more specifically the Head-up display, offers the driver the essential information about the car in the most comfortable way.

Instrument and driver’s HMI expertise:

Color Graphics: 2D, 3D

Cruise Control, Adaptive cruise control, Tachometer, Fuel content indicator, Battery capacity indicator, Electric power meter, Driving efficiency meter Mechanical versions: Basic, Medium,

Head-up display

Head-up displays’ main role is to keep the driver focused so that he/she doesn’t need to glance away from the road. It provides essential information displayed at the driver’s line of sight.

The market value of Head-up displays is estimated to reach over USD 4 billion by 2025

To assure the driver’s attention is always on the road, the head up-display projects the essential data to the windshield.

Benefits of Instrument and driver’s HMI

It reduces driver distraction and increases safety.

Comfort – the driver is always in control, always informed.

Technology – to create a distortion-free image, the windshield (a curved free-form surface from an optical point of view) requires accurate images from the concave mirror in the HUD.

As human to machine interaction increases the automotive industry needs to adopt. This is how instrument and driver’s HMI, which once were only used for military purposes now are becoming widespread in everyday vehicles.

Combiner Head-up display

The Combiner Head-up-Display generates a virtual image via an optical system, just in front of the windshield, and as an overlay to the street.

It is only visible to the driver.

The most important vehicle information is shown in the driver’s direct field of vision:

  • Speed/number of revolutions
  • Warnings Navigation
  • Driver assistance system/environmental sensors
  • Features: ACC, GRA, Limiter, Lane Assist, Navigation, Traffic Sign, Telephone, Warnings
 

We provide customized software, hardware, mechanical design solutions, and system testing for the most diverse vehicle architectures and OEM strategies.

Find out more about what we do when it comes to automotive engineering, here.

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Gateways

Gateways, ECUs

Automotive Gateways

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Automotive gateways are ECUs that enable secure and reliable communication among the vehicle’s electronic systems. It serves a critical role in vehicle security, in addition to performing data routing functions, and supporting new, vehicle-wide applications.

It is the place where all this data meets.

Gateways – how many?

There can be several in a vehicle. Multiple domain gateways and a centralized gateway. As cars have more ECUs (electronic control units) better communication is needed between them. Hence, their important role. Also, digitized communication increased data rate. And Ethernet is a game-changer. 

The central gateway connects the domain controllers. Consequently, the domain gateway does the same thing but within a domain. Therefore, these need more and more processing power. Especially with OTA communication.

TCU

A TCU is an ECU, but one that connects to the cloud or the internet. As the demand for this kind of in-car connectivity grows, so does the complexity.

Also, as the market shifts toward more autonomy in driving, vehicles not only connect within but with the outside infrastructure, with other vehicles or even with people.

Classically, gateway processors were 32-bit microcontrollers that supported lower speed interfaces like CAN (Controller Area Network), LIN (Local Interconnect Network) and FlaxRay. These are not becoming obsolete.

In conclusion, these ECUs are evolving and are bringing the market closer to autonomous driving, playing the important role of interconnectivity. Innovation wouldn’t be possible without this technology. Especially since customer demand is shifting towards a digital life.

Our gateway expertise:

  • LIN, CAN, CAN FD MOST, Ethernet, BroadR-reach, FlexRay;
  • Integrated diagnostics
  • Routing of CAN / LIN messages based on OEM routing table
  • Failure management

We provide customized software, hardware, mechanical design solutions, and system testing for the most diverse vehicle architectures and OEM strategies.

Find out more about what we do when it comes to automotive engineering, here.

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