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Vehicles become mechatronic devices - ETAS

New hardware and software tools are helping engineers devise innovative Electronic Control Unit (ECU) solutions.
One of the leaders in this field is ETAS, a Stuttgart (Germany) based company which has over 700 personnel in regional offices in the United States, Japan, Korea, China, India, France, and Great Britain. Bosch and Siemens hold a 90% and 10% stake in ETAS respectively. The company has a comprehensive portfolio of standardized development and diagnostic tools that cover the complete development and service life cycles of ECUs. ETAS also offers custom engineering services, consultancy and training services.
In 2003, ETAS acquired both Vetronix and LiveDevices. Since this merger, the company’s operating systems have been installed in 350 million ECUs, with an added one million ECUs entering service each week.
One of the company’s end-to-end development solutions for electronic control units is the ASCET toolchain. It 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 has developed platforms and tools which provide complete solutions through every phase of the V-Model. These tools include ASCET, INTECRIO, LABCAR, and INCA.
According to the company, its current operating system, the RTA-OSEK V5.0, supports the AUTOSAR OS specification. RTA-RTE implements the AUTOSAR Runtime Environment specification. Because of the 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 have been committed for use in series production. 
“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 its 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.
Along with the development of new application software, the company is focusing on increasing its global footprint. Last year, it took over MICO’s Bangalore office and set up its Indian operations.
According to managing director of ETAS Automotive India, Wolfgang Sienel, “The growth of auto electronics in India is projected to grow at a rate of 22% per annum, to EUR 2.9 billion by 2010 and the market addressable by ETAS as per our estimate is growing by 20% per annum and is expected to reach EUR 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 in implementing the AUTOSAR vision. The 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 becoming increasingly critical in 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 increasing growth of software volumes which are keeping pace with, and sometimes even out stripping the hardware’s computing power. However, the underlying reasons for the software growth have changed over time. The quest for better fuel economy and lower emission levels as well as new safety and convenience features have lead to more companies becoming active in software development. This in turn has lead to the development of more interfaces between companies, and the need to manage them. The reason ETAS was one of the very first Premium members of AUTOSAR was that it 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 served the Indian market from outside the country for many years. We set up Indian operations because we determined that our business volumes 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.