Project develops interaction of software components for future cars

Project develops interaction of software components for future cars
Technology News |
In the SofDCar joint project, a number of research institutes and automotive suppliers under the leadership of Bosch plan to develop new methods and processes for the data architecture and usage models of future vehicle generations. The challenge: in future, software updates must be possible over the entire service life of the cars - even if the model is no longer being built.
By Christoph Hammerschmidt


Experts from industry and science work together to create standardised rules and processes so that the electronic interaction in the car works – similar to a large orchestra. After all, concerted interaction between everyone is the prerequisite for new functions in and around the vehicle to be developed more quickly in future and to reach drivers safely. A total of 13 companies and research institutions have been working on this since August in the “Software-Defined Car” project (SofDCar for short).

“With a new view of software and data, we are laying the foundations for much more flexibility in dealing with new functions and data relating to modern vehicles,” says Dr Andreas Westendorf, who heads the project at consortium leader Bosch.

An important project goal is to overcome the complexity of today’s E/E architectures. In some cases, more than 100 control units are installed in current vehicles. The high complexity of electrical and electronic systems and their architecture will continue to increase in the future, but at the same time must remain manageable. Only in this way will it be possible in the future to ensure that vehicle functions can be updated at any time and thus remain safe throughout the entire life cycle of a car – after all, up to 20 years. A set of rules for the smooth cooperation of the various electronic components and systems in the car is therefore needed more than ever.

The aim of the “SofDCar” project is to ensure that in future all software updates and upgrades follow rules and processes by which they can be controlled and are subject to the application of a consistent methodology for functional and IT security. This ensures that individual programmes do not interfere with each other and work without errors in the system. “The “SofDCar” project has taken on the task of mapping the IT jungle in the car,” explains Bosch’s Andreas Westendorf.  “Our goal is to fundamentally order the processes for creating and maintaining software for the vehicle domain via cross-company development tool chains and DevOps methods.” This enables more complex functions and safety methods, which are also required for automated driving, for example.

Part of the project is the development of an extended digital twin, i.e. a virtual image of the development and runtime data of a vehicle. In future, this twin will encompass the data distributed in the vehicle and in the cloud, from the production of a vehicle to its scrapping. Thus, this goes significantly beyond the image previously subsumed under the term digital twin, as it covers the entire life cycle of a modern vehicle for the first time and also includes the domains cloud, apps, backend as well as development systems. The project thus aims to ensure that the information flow of vehicle data and software versions runs like a red thread through all databases and servers. Software updates and new digital functions and services can thus be implemented more easily and, above all, more quickly at any time. “The digital twin is the IT-optimised partner of the car, thereby expanding it into a modern electronic device in the cloud,” says Westendorf.

The project partners from industry include ETAS GmbH, Mercedes-Benz AG, P3 digital services, T-Systems, Vector Informatik and ZF Friedrichshafen, as well as the state agency e-mobil BW GmbH as an associated partner. In addition, the University of Stuttgart, the Research Institute for Automotive Engineering and Vehicle Engines Stuttgart (FKSF), the FZI Research Centre for Information Technology and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are participating as renowned scientific institutions. The three-year project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) with €43.

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