INTERVIEW – In 2008, the AUTomotive Open System Architecture or AUTOSAR consortium launched the AUTOSAR Release 3.0. This version is the latest step forward for the AUTOSAR standard. Already, work is on to release Version 4.0. Companies like Vector, who are part of the AUTOSAR consortium, are working at making AUTOSAR-based electronic control unit development quicker. Similarly, Audi plans to make all its XCP embedded software modules in ECUs AUTOSAR-compatible.
In 2003, the 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 – the membership list includes Ford, Toyota, Peugeot Citroen and General Motors.
AUTOSAR’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 vehicle’s lifetime.
In July of 2008, Fujitsu Microelectronics Limited announced the launch of a new microcontroller driver for its MB91460 Series of high-performance 32-bit automotive microcontrollers, jointly developed with EB, Elektrobit Corporation and compatible with Release 2.1 of AUTOSA. When used with Fujitsu Microelectronics’ microcontrollers, this new driver offers customers a greater degree of code reusability for automotive onboard applications already developed, and greater efficiency when developing automotive software.â€¨â€¨
“In preparing the next generation of onboard systems in cars, as electronic control technology becomes more pervasive and the number of electronic components increases, the software that controls these components is becoming more complex and larger, leading to mounting costs for manufacturers of vehicles and electronic control units. AUTOSAR is a standards consortium for automotive onboard systems software, dedicated to addressing this problem – by creating a common specification for onboard software, the same software can be re-used regardless of the microcontroller it is running on. The AUTOSAR Release 2.1 specification standard was recently published and encompasses FlexRay the next-generation in-vehicle networking standard,” said a statement in a Fujitsu Microelectronics press release.
Mecel AB, launched its Mecel Picea Software Suite earlier this year, which contains both tools and embedded software that cover the most important parts of the AUTOSAR standard, at the 2008 Transportation Electronics Convergence Conference. The tool chain provides an efficient seamless configuration framework for creating AUTOSAR compliant software which Mecel Picea says will help to strengthen automotive suppliers’ competitiveness with enhanced quality, shorter time to market and reduced cost. “We know that suppliers struggle with AUTOSAR implementation. We have strived to make Mecel Picea an efficient and easy-to-use tool chain for our customers’ competitiveness,” said Rolf Hagstedt, business manager at Mecel AB, which has been part of the AUTOSAR initiative from the beginning.
“When AUTOSAR started in 2003, not many people believed that it would be possible to standardize the software architecture, methodology, basic software, and application interfaces. The development of a worldwide standard for the automotive industry is a huge task. In order to achieve the standardization a global partnership was required. This was one of the biggest challenges. In the meantime, more than 120 companies worldwide have joined the AUTOSAR partnership. All major carmakers, Tier 1, software and silicon vendors and service providers are members of AUTOSAR. This is a great success and gives AUTOSAR the power to develop a global standard. After 5 years of development the latest release (Release 3.0) marks a mature and stable standard. AUTOSAR is already a real success story; many carmakers plan to apply it in their products in the near future,” said Jürgen Mössinger, ex-spokesperson of AUTOSAR.
In October this year, AUTOSAR appointed Gerulf Kinkelin as its new spokesperson. Kinkelin, who is Innovation Area Manager for Electricity, Electronics & Telematics at PSA Peugeot Citroen, took over from Dr Jürgen Mössinger, vice-president of Automotive Systems Integration at Bosch. “I’m both excited and honored to take over the role of spokesperson of AUTOSAR in this very challenging period. We already see the first cars with AUTOSAR compliant ECUs, and will achieve a significant extension of the standard with Release 4.0. The implementation of AUTOSAR is now in the product roadmap of the broader automotive community, bringing automotive electronics to a new level of maturity,” said Kinkelin in a press release.
Soon after Kinkelin took over as spokesperson of AUTOSAR, he took part in the AUTOSAR Open Conference held in Detroit in late October, which saw over 100 professionals participating. The success of the Open Conference in the US is being seen as a clear sign that AUTOSAR is becoming a popular standard even outside of Europe.
Automotive Industries caught up with AUTOSAR’s new spokesperson, Gerulf Kinkelin.
AI: When do you think Release 4.0 will be launched?
R4.0 specifications will be delivered end of November 2009, including conformance tests for basic software and the implementation of new concepts in Basic Software and methodology and templates.
The new concepts introduced in AUTOSAR Release 4.0 are adding technical and functional improvements and extensions to the following main areas: functional safety, architecture, communication stack and templates.
AI: What will it mean in terms of ECU development?
More than 160 new features introduced in the R4.0 will open new opportunities in terms of ECU development, some examples are given below:
Functional Safety features will support the ISO 26262 standard for safety related applications. One example, the memory partitioning concept will allow safety and non safety applications to be implemented on the same ECU.
Regarding the architecture, the multi-core concept will enable a high integration of independent ECUs and the migration of one cohesive application to a multi-core ECU.
Harmonizing and completing the local error handling mechanisms, the error handling concept has been designed for reusing the same strategy within different architectural areas (memory stack, communication stack, etc.). It will enable applications specific decisions allowing for example, specific Software Components to be stopped and restarted.
Regarding the methodology, one of the most significant improvements is the introduction of the variant handling concept giving more flexibility in software reuse: the large variability found in vehicles and the scalability to different vehicle and platforms is one of the main objectives of AUTOSAR.
AI: Please tell us about the much-awaited vehicle that was to launch in 2008 that used AUTOSAR standards for its automotive electronics.
You probably refer to the new BMW 7 series that was launched at the end of last year, which is relying significantly on AUTOSAR for its electronic architecture.
Each member is applying at its own pace AUTOSAR according to its internal roadmap. As for PSA, our five ECUs for Euro5 diesel engine control are based on an AUTOSAR architecture and will be launched shortly. AUTOSAR implementations are not following one-shot strategies, the whole market is organising transition roadmaps towards AUTOSAR, both at the OEM and at the supplier level.
AI: What opportunities does AUTOSAR offer its members in the current financial climate?
Using AUTOSAR carmakers and suppliers are able to make a lot of savings reusing software, reducing therefore their development costs and optimizing their electronic architecture.
AI: What are some of the exciting new technologies that AUTOSAR will enable?
AUTOSAR as a standard platform is continuously integrating and therefore enabling new technologies, especially in the networks: Flexray has been introduced since the beginning, now in the Release 4.0 the Ethernet stack is part of the standard.
With the implementation of functional safety features, R4.0 will enable safety related applications.
The flexibility introduced in electronic architecture by the software reuse and transferability together with the methodology will be the driver for optimized architectures.
AI: How popular do you think AUTOSAR will become outside Europe?
AUTOSAR is a worldwide standard implying the main actors in the automotive electronics. The effective participation of our colleagues from America and Asia is a clear indication that AUTOSAR is going to be on the road worldwide. The success of the recent Premium Member conference in the USA (Detroit) is a confirmation of this interest. The next one is foreseen in Japan.