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AI caught up with Simon Fürst, Spokesperson of AUTOSAR (AUTomotive Open System ARchitecture)

As the world gets ready to ring out 2009 and welcome 2010, the Core Partners of the AUTOSAR (AUTomotive Open System Architecture) Development Partnership have recently signed a new development agreement for Phase III of the partnership which will last from 2010 to 2012. This coincides with a wider acceptance of the AUTOSAR standard across the globe as automotive designers race to develop new electronic content for vehicles. Today, nearly half of a vehicle’s development cost comes from on-board electronics. AUTOSAR’s Release 4.0 which has been launched in December 2009 facilitates the faster design and development of vehicle electronics.

“AUTOSAR Release 4.0 provides many new features to the developers enabling them to realize even more complex and higher integrated functionality on a single ECU. As the basic architecture of Release 4.0 is a logic further development of the well established architecture of Release 3.x, AUTOSAR based applications will be easily migrated to the new release while taking benefit from new concepts like memory partitioning or enhancements on the communication stack like support for the FlexRay ISO Transport Protocol. Meanwhile also the descriptions like the system template have been massively extended enabling an even smoother headway in the XML based AUTOSAR methodology. We expect that ECU development based in Release 4.0 will start in 2010 with basic software implementations and updates of AUTOSAR tooling being available,” said Simon Fürst, Spokesperson of the AUTOSAR Development Partnership to AI.

One of the challenges the AUTOSAR partnership is working on, is the backward compatibility of Release 4.0. The investments automotive designers have made using Release 3.0, have to be reusable so currently AUTOSAR has started to work out compatibility statements on the different levels of the standard. According to Fürst, Release 4.0 promises to improve methodology and templates and mark the transition from Phase II to Phase III. “The harmonization of ECU configuration parameters, the enhancements on measurements and calibration, the rework of the ECU Resource Template and the further alignment with the Field Bus Exchange Format (FIBEX) standard play a key role regarding the improvements,” said Fürst in October 2009 at the International Congress ‘Electronic Systems for Vehicles’, hosted by the Association of German Engineers.

Release 4.0 contains a large set of application interfaces standardized by AUTOSAR for all five vehicle domains – body and comfort, powertrain, chassis, occupant and pedestrian safety as well as human machine interface or HMI and telematics. For the new standard AUTOSAR additionally chose the approach to validate it before its release. As Release 4.0 is a partial extension of the existing architecture the results of the validation will already be incorporated.

The AUTOSAR Development Partnership was founded in 2003/2004 by BMW Group, Bosch, Continental, DaimlerChrylser, Ford, GM, PSA, Siemens VDO, Toyota and Volkswagen 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.

The AUTOSAR partnership has expanded to include a large number of OEM manufacturers and Tier I automotive suppliers and today more than 160 companies worldwide have joined the AUTOSAR partnership. Many major carmakers, Tier I, software and silicon vendors and service providers are members of AUTOSAR.

Automotive Industries caught up with Simon Fürst, Spokesperson of AUTOSAR (AUTomotive Open System ARchitecture) again.

AI: The AUTOSAR standard has mainly been popular in Europe – today more automotive designers across the globe are buying into the protocol. Why is this happening?

More and more companies worldwide recognize that AUTOSAR is the key technology regarding infrastructure software for automotive systems. For example all major ECU suppliers have AUTOSAR on their roadmap and most of them already offer products based on Release 3.0/3.1. Since the advantages of AUTOSAR are so convincing in the next years we will see a lot of car model launches having AUTOSAR ECUs on board. The AUTOSAR standard enables OEMs and suppliers to reduce their development time and offers the possibility for savings.

AI: What are some of the fundamental differences between R3.0 and R4.0? And how will this help push the popularity of the AUTOSAR platform globally?

As Release 4.0 is a partial extension of the existing architecture the results of the validation have already been incorporated. In parallel, the existing releases will be maintained. Release 4.0 contains a remarkable number of new and even unique features. 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. The new release provides all features ECUs of the next generation of cars will need.

AI: Please explain how the standardized application interfaces of R4.0 will help software designers in terms of time-to-market.

Efforts have been focused on interface specification of well established applications in order to emphasize software reuse and exchange, which is considered as one of the main requirements of AUTOSAR. These standardized interfaces allow software designers and implementers to expand and further simplify the reuse of application software independent of a specific hardware or ECU.

AI: Tell us a little about the validation process of Release 4.0 and how it is different from R3.0.

As the high quality of Release 4.0 should be guaranteed from the very beginning, AUTOSAR conducted an intense validation process. While in previous releases the specifications out of one development were validated on hardware platforms the results of the validation of Release 4.0 have been mainly incorporated into the standard before its release. For the first time the development partnership has also realized the validation of methodology and templates, confirming their high quality. The validation of methodology is based on the new release, whereas the validation of templates is partly based on Release 3.0 due to tool availability.

AI: Will R 4.0 be completely backwardly compatible? If so, what were the challenges the AUTOSAR faced in providing this compatibility?

Release 4.0 is the baseline for all further development in AUTOSAR Phase III, which will be driven by market needs and new technologies. New or extended features will be introduced selectively during the next years and will always have to follow the rules of backwards compatibility. This will ensure that application software being developed for previous releases can easily be reused.

AI: With AUTOSAR currently in Phase III, give us your predictions of the role of automotive electronics in the market and how they will change the face of the industry.

Today the key factor for the further development of the automobile is the progress and improvement of standardized electronic systems and electronic networks.

Therefore in Phase III we will focus on maintaining the existing releases and on enhancing existing functionality selectively. Also the market situation will influence the trends and technology specified by AUTOSAR. 

The migration plans of the AUTOSAR Core Partners and Members are proofing that AUTOSAR will become the standard for E/E systems in the automotive domain.