Automotive IndustriesFounded in 1895
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Last year, Johnson Controls evaluated AUTOSAR concepts by utilizing two different hardware platforms connected through a CAN network on a series of electric control units of ECUs. The software Johnson controls used was Vector AUTOSAR Prototype Package – from Vector CANtech Inc. The company is the US subsidiary of the German Vector Informatik GmbH. Vector is a leading producer of software tools and components for networking in electronic systems based on CAN, LIN, FlexRay and MOST as well as a number of CAN-based protocols.
"This know-how is conveyed in the form of products or as a comprehensive consultation package with system and software engineering. Workshops and seminars round out our multifaceted training program. Worldwide customers in the automotive, heavy-duty vehicle, transport and control engineering fields rely on solutions and products from the independently-owned Vector Group," says the company.
The 100 million Euro Vector Informatik, is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany and has subsidiaries in Japan, France, Sweden, the Republic of Korea and of course, the US. The company was founded in 1988 and currently employs 760 people. In 1997, Vector opened Vector CANtech Inc, its US subsidiary. Vector CANtech also offers customer-specific software components and the integration of ECU software for automotive networks.
When in 2007 Johnson Controls wanted to used Vector software to evaluate AUTOSAR concepts, it used the DaVinci Tool Suite from Vector. An important goal of the project was complete integration of the basic software supplied by Vector with its complex device drivers and its own application software. Johnson Controls enabled this integration through the use of the AUTOSAR run-time environment or RTE. There were three different categories of application software - first, the legacy code which had to be adapted to fulfill the RTE interfaces. The second part of the project involved using automatic code generation for the development of AUTOSAR software components utilizing third-party tools which were also compliant to the AUTOSAR standard. Finally, hand-coded software components were developed which were integrated into the demonstrator.
To validate this system design, the ECU’s body controllers and display were first integrated into a PC simulation that also ran the hardware independent components of the AUTOSAR stack from Vector. The hardware interface, which is part of the simulation environment, was previously developed by Johnson Controls and has been used extensively over the past few years. Johnson Controls is using a production level ECU using the Vector AUTOSAR Prototype Bundle in order to compare performance and footprint of existing solutions with the AUTOSAR solution.
"Standardized software components from Vector provide for easy portability and reliable integration of ECUs from different producers into the network. Vector offers you mature software components for ECU communication with CAN, LIN, MOST and FlexRay, as well as a real-time operating system based on the OSEK/VDX standard or AUTOSAR. You can use Vector flash solutions to manage and download data to the ECU. Of course Vector is an active development partner in the development of AUTOSAR standards and their implementation. What you get are solutions for the infrastructure software of your networks that are well-equipped for the future. The development of diagnostic functionality in the ECU is an important component of your overall system development. You already specify the required diagnostic functions when ECU functionality is drawn up. This ensures that the ECU in the system of networks satisfies diagnostic requirements. You create and implement diagnostic functionality in parallel to ECU development," said Johnson Controls in a press release.
Automotive Industries spoke to Bruce Emaus, President of Vector CANtech Inc.
AI: How would you describe the role Vector CANtech has played in the automotive embedded software industry?
After several years of using in-house J1850 solutions during the mid-90s, Vector became the sole provider of OEM-mandated in-vehicle communications embedded software for Chrysler, Ford, and GM. Today, this nearly10-year-old partnership is still in place.
AI: What are some of the challenges facing this sector and how is your company working on surmounting these?
Many of our customers recognize the ever-growing business resource requirements to support the wide spectrum of technical solutions that comprise in-vehicle networking development. Today, this includes CAN, LIN, FlexRay, MOST, FNOS, and GMLAN; tommorrow it will also include AUTOSAR and other technology advancements. Vector is moving to provide a wider range of solutions to address these growing industry needs.
AI: Tell us a little about the role Vector plays in the SAE embedded software standards committee.
Bruce Emaus started the SAE software task force in the fall of 1997. With the participation of Chrysler, Ford, GM, and several tier 1 suppliers, its beginning target was aimed at software process improvement. Now ten years later, the activities are governed by a single SAE Embedded Software Standards Committee with separate task force committees focusing several standardization efforts including standard C coding practices, generic embedded software requirements, verification and validation, a continued process improvement agenda, and a new software assessment repository concept.
Vector has hosted most of these SAE meetings at its facilities in Novi, Michigan.
AI: Are there similar projects underway and if so, could you tell us about them?
The number of customers who are actively evaluating AUTOSAR is growing and we are being to see the first deliveries for production use as well. In N.A. we have seen Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs evaluating AUTOSAR to understand benefits, impacts and determine possible transition paths. Several OEMs & Tier 1s are looking at FlexRay using AUTOSAR to help ramp their evaluation. We also see non-automotive customers exploring AUTOSAR and FlexRay for evaluation of their next generation protocols. So there is a growing level of evaluation and Vector is currently delivering AUTOSAR to three OEMs in Europe for production projects.