Rise of the software-defined vehicle – Automotive News

With the ever-increasing use of smart devices, consumers expect their cars to offer new experiences and features that are connected to their digital lifestyles. Vehicle manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers recognize the need to deliver these features quickly and are utilizing the power of cloud-based modern data strategies, scalable Internet of Things and machine learning platforms to accelerate innovation and time to market.

To deliver developer-friendly platforms focused on continuously updatable and flexible software architectures, automakers are radically changing how they look at vehicle systems. They no longer view the vehicle as a heterogeneous collection of hardware-based electronic control units that deliver specific features and functions. Rather, they see it as a holistic, consolidated and flexible system of software-based microservices and data-driven functions that provide seamless interaction with the cloud to bring new experiences to drivers and passengers securely.

This holistic view of vehicle features, functions and experiences will ensure that automotive companies are ready for complex and ever-evolving smart vehicle use cases including smart city, autonomous driving, seamless interaction with home and office, high-definition mapping, usage-based insurance and other innovations from the ecosystem of mobility service providers.

Connected, software-driven functions inside the vehicle also allow automakers to effectively manage changes to vehicle features and upgrade them with new functionality.

This new, architectural framework is the force behind the software-defined vehicle.

Historically, hardware and software development have been tightly coupled and, in many cases, driven by long hardware-dependent cycles.

Deploying software inside a vehicle has been a complex and cumbersome process for automakers because of hardware disparities across the various makes and models in their portfolio, each with potentially different development and deployment environments.

For example, some cars may have up to 150 electronic control units hailing from a collection of suppliers, with each responsible for a single feature. Solving these problems is obliging automakers to find ways to decouple software and hardware development, while ensuring that software functions can be deployed seamlessly to vehicle hardware.

Software-defined vehicles will help decouple hardware and software while helping automakers and suppliers build developer-friendly platforms to access data, tools and machine-learning capabilities to develop, test and deploy machine-learning models in production within the vehicle reliably and efficiently. The result will be cost savings, higher developer efficiency and faster innovation.

A holistic approach to software-defined vehicles also enables cloud-native capabilities to be deployed on new consolidated, high-performance computing in-vehicle domain controllers. Vehicle functions run on top of these units and can be defined by software that is tested, simulated and delivered from the cloud that facilitates collaboration both inside the company and the value chain, thereby accelerating innovation.

The software-defined vehicle is an industry-driven initiative that strives to facilitate collaboration with hardware and software providers and system integrators to propel innovation. Here are a few great examples:

  • The QNX (BlackBerry) Intelligent Vehicle Data Platform, a scalable, cloud-connected software platform that allows automakers to provide a consistent and secure way to read vehicle sensor data in real time, normalize it and create actionable insights both in the vehicle and in the cloud. It supports multiple vehicle operating systems and multi-cloud deployments to ensure compatibility across vehicle models and brands. The platform also supports IoT sensing and applies machine learning to generate predictive insights that allow developers to create and deliver new features, functionality and performance over the vehicle’s lifetime.
  • Continental Automotive Edge, a cloud-based “software-defined vehicle as a platform,” features a virtual workbench that allows automakers to develop, supply and maintain software-driven system functions across in-vehicle domains (powertrain, cockpit and other advanced driver-assistance technologies). It can be rolled out to connected vehicle fleets via over-the-air updates.
  • Integrating edge and cloud services with NXP Semiconductor’s new S32G vehicle network processor for service-oriented gateways, to deliver a secure, edge-to-cloud computing solution for next-generation vehicles that can enable new cloud-powered services.
  • DXC Luxoft’s new architectures supporting end-to-end vehicle data flow allows data created by automotive software to be transferred to the cloud and shared with approved third parties. The vehicle owner can then visualize car data through a mobile application, as well as control basic vehicle functionality.

The automotive and mobility industries are transforming rapidly, and continual disruption has produced incredible innovation. Collaboration among automotive, cloud, edge and data experts to develop standardized platforms provides parity among various software development environments, which will improve vehicle functionality and enhance the customer experience.

Working together to bring software-defined, data-driven vehicle platforms to market will accelerate new applications, services and opportunities without compromising safety, security or customer privacy.

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