Bosch spins out application-independent vehicle software
With its existing Cross-Domain Computing Solutions division, Bosch had established a unit for application-specific vehicle software with specific hardware for numerous vehicle areas such as driver assistance and infotainment a year ago. Now, the offering with application-independent software for vehicles and the cloud will be bundled at ETAS. The aim is to create a central platform with which software can be developed faster, more efficiently and together with partners in the future. “Our universal software foundation is a key prerequisite for the digitalisation of modern, software-defined vehicles,” says Stefan Hartung, Chairman of the Mobility Solutions Division of Robert Bosch GmbH.
In future, Bosch will combine its software platform, which can be used across the board, with its expertise in the development of innovative software functions. In this way, Bosch wants to gain a competitive advantage in the market for vehicle software, explains Dr Markus Heyn, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. In future, ETAS will offer the platform, which can be used across the board, as well as the appropriate development environment to both automobile manufacturers and other suppliers. With this measure, Bosch is creating a unit that can better compete against similarly positioned players such as Elektrobit (EB) or TTTech Auto.
Bosch’s move is based on the realisation that development processes are shifting, especially in software. Until now, the rule was: a car is finished when it is delivered. In future, however, OEMs and suppliers worldwide agree that the vehicle software will be continuously improved and expanded, even after the vehicle has long been delivered – for the entire life of the vehicle. This will enable drivers to have an individual, digital driving experience and at the same time form the basis for new business models for manufacturers.
Experts see the market for vehicle software in the billions over the next few years. Bosch expects double-digit annual growth until 2030. Part of this evolution is the now planned organisational realignment of divisions dealing with application-independent software at ETAS. “For the development of vehicle operating systems, we want to position ourselves even better on the market worldwide in the future,” says Heyn. “With this step, we offer existing and new customers a holistic range of a horizontal, cross-domain platform to realise software-defined vehicles,” adds Christoph Hartung, CEO of ETAS GmbH. The new organisation will also continue the cooperation between Bosch and Microsoft that began in February. The aim of the cooperation is an integrated software platform for the seamless networking of vehicle and cloud. In future, this will make it easier to further develop vehicle software throughout the entire life of the vehicle and to upload it to the control units and vehicle computers via the cloud.
Software is already an integral part of almost every function of modern vehicles. It consists of different layers that build on each other. One layer comprises software components with which vehicle manufacturers create individual driving experiences – from the drive to infotainment and assistance systems. This is where the individual brands differ, sometimes enormously. Other layers, such as the basic software of the control units and so-called middleware, on the other hand, offer manufacturers hardly any possibility of differentiation. These software components regulate basic tasks of control units and vehicle computers that are not perceived by the driver. For example, they manage processor performance and memory space or determine how control units communicate with each other or with the cloud and exchange data. Once developed, this software can be used on almost any control unit – regardless of the area of the vehicle and regardless of the vehicle model. In the future, open source software and the associated ecosystems will also play a greater role. Vehicle manufacturers and automotive suppliers will thus be able to place software at the centre of development even more effectively in the future.
From mid-2022, a total of 2,300 experts from different development areas of Bosch and ETAS will be brought together at the latter. ETAS employs around 1,500 associates in 12 countries. A further 800 Bosch associates are to be added in mid-2022. The details of the future organisation are currently being worked out with the participation of the relevant employee representatives.