Issue: Sep 2008


Software solutions for a new generation - Vector CANtech



Automotive Industries spoke to Bruce Emaus, President of Vector CANtech Inc.

by Lenny Case

A leading producer of software tools and components for networking in electronic systems, Vector is growing its portfolio.   

The company is the US subsidiary of German company, Vector Informatik GmbH. It specializes in systems based on CAN, LIN, FlexRay and MOST as well as a number of CAN-based protocols. 

In 2007, Johnson Controls used Vector software – the Vector AUTOSAR Prototype Package - to evaluate AUTOSAR concepts. The software came from Vector CANtech Inc, the company’s US subsidiary. 

One of the project goals was the complete integration of basic software with Vector’s complex device drivers and its own application software. This integration was achieved through the use of the AUTOSAR run-time environment or RTE and required three different categories of application software:

First, the legacy code was adapted to fulfill the RTE interfaces. Second, automatic code generation was used for the development of AUTOSAR software components. These components used third-party tools but 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 displays were integrated into a PC simulation that also ran the hardware-independent components of the AUTOSAR stack from Vector. Johnson Controls used a production level ECU with the Vector AUTOSAR Prototype Bundle to compare the performance and footprint of existing solutions with the AUTOSAR solution. 

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?

Emaus:
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 nearly decade-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?

Emaus:
Our customers recognize the ever-growing business resource requirements needed to support the wide spectrum of technical solutions that comprise in-vehicle networking development. Today, this includes CAN, LIN, FlexRay, MOST, FNOS, and GMLAN. Tomorrow 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.

Emaus:
I started the SAE software task force in the fall of 1997. With the participation of Chrysler, Ford, GM, and several Tier 1 suppliers, the beginning target was aimed at software process improvement. Now, ten years later, the activities are governed by a single SAE Embedded Software Standards Committee. There are separate task force committees focusing on 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 you currently running any similar projects to last year’s Johnson Control’s project? 

Emaus:
The number of customers actively evaluating AUTOSAR is growing and we are starting to see the first deliveries for production use as well. In North America, we have seen Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs evaluating AUTOSAR in order to understand its benefits, impacts and determine possible transition paths.  Several OEMs and Tier 1’s are looking at FlexRay using AUTOSAR to help ramp their evaluation. There are also a few non-automotive customers exploring AUTOSAR and FlexRay for evaluation of their next generation protocols. 

There is definitely a growing level of evaluation and Vector is currently delivering AUTOSAR to three OEMs in Europe for production projects.

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