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Automotive Industries interviews Jeff Kessen, President of ETAS North America.

ECU software is the most cost-efficient and sometimes the only viable technical solution for adding new features to a vehicle

ETAS was formed in 1994, and has operated in the US since 1997. Since inception, the company has designed and produced hardware and software tools for engineers who develop and calibrate Electronic Control Unit control systems. ETAS acquired both Vetronix and LiveDevices in 2003. Bosch holds a 90 per cent stake in the company with Siemens the other 10 per cent. ETAS supplies a comprehensive portfolio of standardized development and diagnostic tools that cover the complete development and service life cycles of electronic control units in today’s vehicles.

The company provides tools and software components for the three basic aspects of electronic control units such as control functions, diagnostic functions, and platform software components. ETAS also offers custom engineering services, consultancy and training services. Prior to the 2003 merger, ETAS was already providing automotive operating systems for more than a decade. Today, ETAS operating systems are in 350 million ECUs, with an additional million ECUs entering service each week, says the company.

ETAS provides end-to-end development solutions for electronic control units. For example, the ASCET toolchain is used for ECU software modeling, prototyping, and production code generation. Currently more than 60 million vehicles on the road across the globe contain ECUs running ASCET generated production code. ETAS provides complete solutions through every phase of the V model, with platforms and tools like ASCET, INTECRIO, LABCAR, and INCA.

ETAS’ currently available operating system, the RTA-OSEK V5.0, supports the AUTOSAR OS specification. RTA-RTE implements the AUTOSAR Runtime Environment specification. Because of their AUTOSAR interfaces, basic software modules from other vendors can be seamlessly integrated with the OS and RTE. These two key AUTOSAR components have already been selected by Bosch as the basis for their AUTOSAR ECU architecture and are committed for use in series production, says ETAS.

“The availability of AUTOSAR OS and RTE is not limited to series deployment in production ECU software. ETAS is unique in providing a target-identical environment across their function and software development tools. RTA-OSEK and RTA-RTE are already integrated into the INTECRIO Integrated Prototyping Environment. This ensures target-close behavior of virtual prototypes running on Microsoft Windows PCs or rapid prototypes running on ETAS rapid prototyping hardware. RTA-OSEK and RTA-RTE are also integrated into the ASCET-SE production code generation environment and allow model-based development of AUTOSAR application software,” says the company.

ETAS is now working on increasing its global footprint. Last year, the company took over MICO’s Bangalore office and set up its Indian operations. Prior to this, MICO was offering ETAS’ products and services in the subcontinent. Speaking about India and ETAS’ entry into the country, Wolfgang Sienel, managing director of ETAS Automotive India said: “Growth of auto electronics in India is projected to grow at a rate of 22 per cent per annum, to USD 4.49 billion by 2010 and the market addressable by ETAS as per our estimate is growing by 20 per cent per annum and is expected to reach Euro 51.9 million by 2011. ECU vehicles are a big differentiator for distinguishing products from the competition. Embedded electronics turns vehicles in a mechantronic device and electronic control means high system capability.”

Automotive Industries spoke to Jeff Kessen, President of ETAS North America.

AI: What are the AUTOSAR-compliant tools for ECU development, testing, calibration and diagnostics that ETAS has in its stable?

With the release of INTECRIO in 2004, ETAS took the first step of implementing the AUTOSAR vision. That tool enables customers to integrate and execute software from different companies, even if it is implemented with a competitive tool chain. Additionally, our ASCET software engineering environment now provides full AUTOSAR compliance. Finally, we have leveraged our long-standing experience with embedded operating systems to develop a world class AUTOSAR-RTE.

AI: Please tell us a little about the role automotive ECUs play in the industry and why they are increasingly more critical to vehicles?

ECU software is the most cost-efficient and sometimes the only viable technical solution for adding new features to a vehicle. As more on-board systems deal with time-critical decisions regarding safety or performance, our customers turn to advanced computing concepts to address those system demands. As a result, not only is the volume of software increasing but also the required level of quality. This is the key reason that ETAS has certified the ASCET software development environment for safety-critical applications.

AI: What are some of the new trends you see in automotive ECUs?

The dominant trend in automotive ECUs is the growth of software volume keeping pace or even outstripping increases in the hardware’s computing power. What has changed over time is the underlying reasons for that software growth. In addition to the quest for better fuel economy and lower emission levels, we find new safety and convenience features are steadily becoming mainstream. With this growth in diversity comes more companies active in software development and more interfaces between companies to manage. The reason ETAS was one of the very first Premium members of AUTOSAR was that we recognized long ago that these challenges need a systematic solution.

AI: Last year you set up your Indian operations – what strategy do you have for developing countries?

We have served the Indian market from outside the country for many years and determined that our business volume and customer relationships deserved a local presence.

At ETAS, we understand that we need to be located wherever our customers perform development and service, both today and in the future. Regarding India, we can see clearly that it will play a growing role in automotive development and particularly in on-board software.

AI: What role do you see the BRIC (Brazil, India, Russia and China) countries playing in your global business?

We foresee sustainable growth in these markets and are already present in each. While our customers’ strategies for low-cost locations were heavily focused on manufacturing in the past, we see this trend now accelerating in product development. It is our goal to improve our customers’ productivity in development, wherever they choose to conduct it. We also see our existing global footprint as a substantial asset for our market.

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