In August 2002, the Automotive Open System Architecture AUTOSAR partnership was formed by BMW, Bosch, Continental, DaimlerChrylser, Volkswagen, and later Siemens VDO, to establish an open standard for automotive E/E architecture which would serve as a basic infrastructure for the management of functions within both future applications and standard software modules.
Today, the AUTOSAR partnership has expanded to include a large number of OEM manufacturers and Tier I automotive suppliers â€“ the membership list includes Ford, Toyota, Peugeot Citroen and General Motors.
AUTOSARâ€™s objectives are to implement and standardize basic system functions as an industry-wide standard core solution that offers scalability to different vehicle and platform variants. Plus the standard should allow for transferability of functions throughout the network and integrate functional modules from multiple suppliers.
Other objectives include consideration of availability and safety requirements, redundancy activation, maintainability throughout the whole product life cycle, increased use of commercial off the shelf hardware and software updates, and upgrades over a vehicleâ€™s lifetime.
The AUTOSAR scope includes all vehicle domains and with the advent of innovative vehicle applications, contemporary automotive E/E architecture has reached a level of complexity which requires a technological breakthrough in order to manage it satisfactorily and fulfill the heightened passenger and legal requirements. This need is particularly acute for high-end, luxury vehicle manufacturers and their leading Tier 1 suppliers who are often faced with conflicting requirements from clients.
According to industry experts, one of the biggest challenges facing the AUTOSAR initiative is in how to standardize software for automobiles without losing the systemâ€™s ability to be flexible and adaptive.
Matthew Beecham (www.just-auto.com) quotes Helmut Fennel of Continental Automotive Systems, which is a core member of AUTOSAR: â€œThe automotive industryâ€™s vision is certainly plug and play yet without the negative connotations associated with personal computers. We must have highly reliable and quality products. The automotive industry is moving more towards the aircraft industry. Yet the problem is that the aircraft industry uses a different cost base. This is the main challenge and the reason we decided to form AUTOSAR. The consortiumâ€™s approach is tailored specifically to automotive design needs. It is not a carbon copy of any former plug and play concept.â€
Recently, Volkswagen, Hell KGaA Hueck and Co, NEC Electronics (Europe) and Electrobitâ€™s Automotive Software Unit, 3Soft, started work on a project to introduce AUTOSAR-compatible software for a Volkswagen series production vehicle. The project aims to daily check over a 12-month period how the demands of the automotive industry with regard to real-time functionality can be met.
According to AUTOSAR, the partners will also evaluate software integration, migration opportunities, use of resources, SW runtimes, quality of specifications, and cost. The AUTOSAR control unit will be mounted in a Passat limousine, creating an authentic test environment. Any experience gained from the project will flow back into the AUTOSAR specification work.
For more information, visit AUTOSARâ€™s comprehensive website: www.autosar.org
Automotive Industries spoke to Helmut Fennel of Continental and chief spokesperson for AUTOSAR, as well as Thomas Weber of DaimlerChrysler and deputy spokesperson of AUTOSAR, and asked them about the status of the consortiumâ€™s program.
AI: When are AUTOSARâ€™s systems likely to make a commercial debut in automobiles?
AUTOSAR is ready for exploitation. With the AUTOSAR release 2.0, which can be downloaded on www.autosar.org, one can experience the AUTOSAR techniques and methodology. Companies which are members of the AUTOSAR partnership have already started to develop modules and tools for AUTOSAR-conformed products. The first vehicles with AUTOSAR-conformed products are expected from 2008 onwards.
AI: Are the AUTOSAR partnershipâ€™s time-lines being adhered to? Please give examples of some of the challenges faced by AUTOSAR in developing its system.
The AUTOSAR development schedule will be in time. We are finishing our so called phase I with a mature release. A great number of obstacles had to be overcome, since AUTOSAR has not started at zero and therefore every car manufacturer and most of the suppliers already had their proprietary solutions in place, and the tool manufacturers had developed tools already in place.
The biggest challenge of AUTOSAR was, and is, to bring all the creative ideas of worldwide operating development experts to converge and coordinate their work in working groups. Another big challenge was to take advantage of modern software engineering concepts under the given resource restrictions of todayâ€™s automotive hardware concepts (CPU and memory consumption). To achieve and prove these goals, we also put a lot of effort into the realization of validators that proved our design ideas in practice under real life conditions.
AI: How have automotive companies not in the AUTOSAR partnership reacted to the program?
We do not know very much about the reactions of companies which are not part of AUTOSAR. The fact that more than 100 companies worldwide are joining the partnership tells us that there are not many important players left.
AI: How confident are you that AUTOSAR will be the definitive architecture for automotive electronics? What is the competition it faces?
The confidence in the AUTOSAR architectural approach is very high, because the standard was created by the highest recognized experts within the automotive electronic industries. In such innovative and dynamic industries a standard cannot be made for eternity.
We are expecting the usage of the standard for a minimum of 10 years. There is nothing on the market which is comparable. All major experts in the field of Automotive Standard Software were involved in the AUTOSAR approach.
As no other project of similar goals has been started for the last 3 years, we feel extremely confident that all advanced engineering capacity went into AUTOSAR. But AUTOSAR is clearly no research project and therefore has solid and practical solutions to offer. AUTOSAR has defined a common language in the field of Automotive Software which is extremely valuable: OEMs, Tier1 suppliers, Tool/Software Suppliers and Universities can rely on an identical software base in the Automotive Industry. This will increase quality and save time and money in the integration of systems and functions for the whole community.
Modularity and configurability
â€¢ Definition of a modular software architecture for automotive electronic control units
â€¢ Consideration of HW dependent and HW independent SW modules
â€¢ Integration of SW modules provided by different suppliers to increase the functional reuse
â€¢ Transferability of functional SW-modules within a particular E/E-system at least at the final software linking process
â€¢ Resource optimized configuration of the SW infrastructure of each ECU depending on the function deployment
â€¢ Scalability of the E/E-system across the entire range of vehicle product lines
â€¢ Standardization of different APIs to separate the AUTOSAR SW layers
â€¢ Facilitate encapsulation of functional SW-components
â€¢ Definition of the data types of the SW-components to be AUTOSAR compliant
â€¢ Identify basic SW modules of the SW infrastructure and standardize their interfaces
â€¢ AUTOSAR runtime environment to provide inter- and intra-ECU communication across all nodes of a vehicle network
â€¢ Runtime environment is located between the functional SW-components and the basic SW-modules
â€¢ All entities connected to the AUTOSAR RTE must comply with the AUTOSAR specification
â€¢ Enables the easy integration of customer specific functional SW-modules