The car is rapidly becoming a part of the internet of things and is increasingly being influenced by consumer electronics. While a modern vehicle's electric/electronic (EE) architecture is already complex, this level of complexity is driven further by more worlds that all meet in the cockpit domain: Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), in-vehicle infotainment, telematics, cloud-based services, and apps mean more functions that the driver must handle. Each function needs an interface which offers choices, parameters and control options. As a result different software systems either share the same display at times or they use different displays in different situations.
Having a closer look the different software systems are even based on different operating systems (OSs). Some of these OSs are very rich and tailored towards handling large amounts of data like, for instance, GENIVI-compliant Linux systems. Other software demands severe real-time capabilities with minimal latency and maximum reliability. Many of these safety-critical systems are AUTOSAR-based. Now, with the advent of Android in the car, a whole new dimension of apps and dynamic innovation is added yet. This “collision of worlds” is brought about by the best of intentions, but the differing requirements of each world need to be addressed and solved, Fig.1.
Fig.1: Conflicting requirements in the passenger car interior domain
Higher interior integration avoids ECU proliferation
A look back at the evolution of cockpit electronics points a way out that has worked before: The answer lies in higher integration. This successful strategy has led to the current partitioning of the interior domain. The head unit is the result of the previous step up the integration ladder.
- Functions, directly related to driving, which interface in the cluster instrument are controlled by a dedicated ECU tailored to the specific needs of this category.
- Infotainment and related functions are summarized in the head unit.
To date the head unit serves to take all the functions which are not immediately relevant to