Issue: May 2014


Separation of software from hardware creates new opportunities



by Esther Francis





Two of the automotive highlights of the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) were the S-Class Mercedes and a new urban electric vehicle developed at the Universite de Sherbrooke in Sherbrooke, Quebec 

Designed by a team of student engineers, the Sherbrooke VUE (Vehicle Urbain Electrique) features advanced Elektrobit Automotive (EB) HMI, infotainment and electric-vehicle technologies. EB, which develops automotive-grade software, wireless technologies, solutions and system and software architecture, also highlighted the work it has done for the new 2014 Mercedes Benz S-Class. The new Merc’s best-in-class driver assistance feature was developed with EB software-integration support. EB products were also on display in the QNX’ Technology Concept Car which featured EB Automotive’s latest navigation technology (EB street director). EB was also part of the Ford booth, highlighting the SYNC AppLink integration and globalization. It featured as part of GM CUE and MyLInk with their navigation and HMI, and in the Audi A3 which uses the company’s navi, HMI and electronic horizon applications. With its North American headquarters in Detroit and Seattle, EB plays a major role in the development of software-based driver-assistance, navigation and infotainment systems. 

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Gregor Zink, Executive Vice President, EB Automotive what were some of the highlights of EB Automotive’s participation in CES 2014. 

Zink: We displayed the latest Mercedes-Benz S Class equipped with state-of-the-art driver assistance technologies that EB is integrating for Daimler worldwide, and an electrical vehicle developed by a group of talented students from university of Sherbrook, Canada. 

AI: Tell us a little about the VUE. 

Zink: Project VUE is a university project developed by students of the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada. Its aim is to develop a new, urban electric vehicle (Véhicule Urbain Electrique, VUE) that will be a pioneer for integrated autonomous driving technology. The project started in 2012 with the conversion of a standard Smart ForTwo into an electronic, fully connected vehicle, focusing on improving reliability of the battery, power supply and other electronic systems. The next development stage, which began in early 2013, is targeting to increase the car intelligence, including improving user experience and integrating a fully functional instrument cluster. EB’s (Elektrobit) HMI development solution EB GUIDE 5.5 is at the heart of the project for the development of the HMI and infotainment system. EB GUIDE 5.5 enables the team of electrical and computer engineering students to bring a compelling HMI, with an intuitive user interface integration, into the car. The project comprises the development of a full instrument cluster and infotainment system based on a QNX operating system, including car diagnostics and intelligent integration of the car’s battery status. 

AI: How would you rate the success of EB’s driver-assistance programs with major automakers? 

Zink: EB has been the selected software supplier for driver assistance systems at Daimler for the last 2.5 years. EB’s work for Daimler has included function and implementation models, software implementation, module tests and integration tests for up to 60 driver assistance functions like Attention Assist, Crosswind Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control Distronic, Active Blind Spot Assist, Collision Prevention Assist and others. These functions, built from more than 200 software modules and deployed in more than 25 car series, run on nine different ECUs from six suppliers. To meet this complex task, EB developed a new software factory concept that automatizes software development. The software factory enables customers and developers to manage the rising number of versions and variants while keeping high quality and accessibility of systems. EB is happy to introduce this concept for other OEMs as well. 

AI asked Artur Seidel, Vice President, EB Automotive to expand on the work EB has done for with Mercedes for its new 2014 S-Class model. 

Seidel: Daimler cars from the whole product range, from Smart to S-Class, are employing EB driver assistance integrated systems. Currently, the newest models with EB software on the road are the new E-Class and the new S-Class. The collaboration between EB and Daimler reflects the growing importance of software as a key differentiating factor in the automotive industry. It is also in line with the separation of software and hardware and the increasing standardization of hardware components. This trend enables OEMs to choose software and hardware modules independently, and enables them to deliver best in class automotive software systems to their customers. 

AI: Where do we find EB-developed technologies? 

Seidel: EB provides software solutions to car-manufacturers and suppliers like Audi, BMW, Bosch, Continental, Daimler, Ford, Volkswagen, GM and many more. EB has played a major role in the development and integration of navigation, human-machine interface (HMI) and driver-assistance systems for Audi, Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen. For Ford, EB is the global software integrator for SYNC AppLink. GM is using our navigation and HMI products. Audi and the entire VW Group is using our HMI, navigation, and ehorizon technologies. Daimler is our partner for driver assistance. EB was the first company to take AUTOSAR 4.0 on the road, implementing it in the BMW series worldwide. 

AI: Tell us a little about the new technologies from EB found in QNX’s new concept car seen at CES 2014. 

Seidel: QNX Software Systems used CES to showcase its vision of user-centric infotainment systems and digital instrument clusters in a modified Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG. The car’s in-dash infotainment system offers a multi-modal user experience that blends touch, voice, physical buttons, and a multi-function controller, enabling users to interact with the vehicle in the way that is most natural for them. Elektrobit is providing the state-of-the-art 3D navigation product EB street director. 

AI then asked Manuela Papadopol, Director of Global Marketing, how the market for driver assistance systems was evolving. 

Papadopol: While the global driver assistance market value in 2011 approached $10 billion, it will grow to an impressive $130 billion by 2016, analysts say. Driver assistance systems are currently experiencing a shift from the luxury to the mass market, and some applications are even enforced by official and legal institutions to increase road safety. At the same time, there is still a huge potential for many solutions, for example the integration of driver assistance with navigation. With EB taking responsibility for the software engineering for driver assistance, Daimler can Manuela Papadopol, Director of Global Marketing, EB Automotive.focus its resources on its core competence, the development of automotive innovation. The collaboration with EB supports Daimler in strengthening its status as “best in class” for driver assistance. Daimler and EB’s success speaks for itself: all software releases of the 230 software modules and 75 model releases in the last 2.5 years were on time. 

AI: What will support the growth? 

Papadopol: The collaboration between EB and Daimler reflects the growing importance of software as a key differentiating factor in the automotive industry. It is also in line with the separation of software and hardware and standardization of hardware components. EB and Daimler are discussing the possibility of presenting defined software functions to third parties. This means that driving assistance features by Daimler, like the drowsiness detection system, would be also available for other OEMs and suppliers – via a neutral partner like EB. These features will be available for third parties as soon as EB and Daimler have defined their business model  



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