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Automotive Industries interviews Stefan Bunzel, spokesperson of AUTOSAR

Recently, the AUTomotive Open System Architecture or AUTOSAR Development Partnership named Dr Stefan Bunzel as its new spokesperson. The electrical engineer who works for Continental took over from Simon Fürst of BMW who continues to be a member of the AUTOSAR steering committee. The new deputy spokesperson is Dr Stefan Schmerler, Senior Manager, Advanced Engineering E/E Architecture and Standards at Daimler, who takes over from Dr Andreas Titze, Head of Networks and E/E Architecture at Volkswagen.

Stefan Bunzel has many years of solid experience in the field of software development. Located in Frankfurt, Germany, Stefan Bunzel is responsible for the ‘Software Platforms’ central department at Continental, which globally supports all Continental’s automotive divisions. He has been active in the AUTOSAR development cooperation since 2004, and was Project Leader from 2006 to 2008. Bunzel already held the position of deputy spokesperson of AUTOSAR in 2008.

The new spokesperson face a year where new concepts and innovations are likely to be unveiled. “The upcoming nine months are an important period for the future course of AUTOSAR.” said Stefan Bunzel. 

“More and more companies worldwide recognize that AUTOSAR is the key technology regarding infrastructure software for automotive systems. 

The results and the success of the 2nd Open Conference in Tokyo which took place in May 2010 proved that AUTOSAR has been gaining momentum in Asia, particularly in Japan. The event fully underlined its motto of AUTOSAR as a global standard.”

In December 2009, the AUTOSAR partnership launched Release 4.0 which marked the end of its phase two. The AUTOSAR partnership was founded in 2003/2004 by the BMW Group, Bosch, Continental, DaimlerChrysler, Ford, GM, PSA, Siemens VDO, Toyota and Volkswagen to develop an open, standardized software architecture for the automotive industry. The basic architecture of Release 4.0 added new features to the architecture of the earlier Release 3.0.

Release 4.0 contained a large number of new features that added to the technical and functional improvements and extensions to the main areas including functional safety, architecture, communication stack, methodology and templates and application interfaces. A major focus of the development partnership was on maturing methodology and templates. Some of the upgrades in Release 4.0 included the harmonization of ECU configuration parameters, the enhancements on measurements and calibration, the rework of the ECU Resource Template as well as the further alignment with the Field Bus Exchange Format or FIBEX standard. “The FIBEX standard has been harmonized with AUTOSAR and now former gaps between both standards have been bridged successfully,” said Simon Fürst in December when he was spokesperson for AUTOSAR.

The AUTOSAR partnership got a major validation when in March this year General Motors renewed its commitment to be a core partner of the AUTOSAR Phase III. Initially, GM had decided to continue in 2010 as a Premium Member of AUTOSAR. By signing the AUTOSAR Core Partner agreement in March 2010, which endures to the end of 2012, General Motors reinforces its strong commitment to the development partnership once more. “AUTOSAR is one of the essential requirements to master successfully the future challenges of the automobile industry. General Motor’s decision to act again as Core Partner of AUTOSAR is a clear commitment to the objectives of AUTOSAR and the consistent application of the standard,” said Robert Rimkus, Engineering Group Manager – Global Software Architecture at General Motors.

Automotive Industries spoke to Stefan Bunzel, spokesperson of AUTOSAR.

AI: What are some of the challenges AUTOSAR is likely to face this year?

By the end of 2010, new concepts will be jointly worked out and will have to be implemented in Release 4.1. The outcome of this task will affect the schedule for the period until the Release is published at the end of 2012. It is our challenge to find a wise balance with regard to innovation, stability and backwards compatibility for any further development. Furthermore the partnership has to maintain former releases, in particular Release 4.0 and 3.1.

AI: Tell us about AUTOSAR Phase III – what is the blue-print for this stage?

Maintenance and selective enhancement of the standard are the main topics for Phase III. The enhancement will be specified in such a way that it is possible to ensure backward compatibility wherever feasible and/or to make reliable compatibility statements. The proposed concepts for Release 4.1 are going to be elaborated and approved until end of this year.

AI: What are some of the enhancements expected to be featured in Release 4.1?

In general, the additions shall support new technologies and trends, and shall extend existing functions. Enhancements include concepts such as: Basic Software: extended hardware support, further capabilities to the Release 4.0 Ethernet functions, means for efficient energy management, enhanced use of multi-core microcontrollers, interoperability between AUTOSAR and automotive multimedia applications, etc. The detailed content will be defined during the concept phase of Release 4.1.

AI: Release 4.1 will mark the culmination of AUTOSAR’s Phase III – how do you see AUTOSAR evolving from there?

It is expected that the first fully AUTOSAR compliant ECUs will be based on Release 3.0/3.1 and with AUTOSAR Release 4.0 the majority of ECUs will be fully AUTOSAR compliant. Once AUTOSAR is introduced in series products, backward compatibility of subsequent AUTOSAR Releases is getting more and more important. Plans to continue AUTOSAR after 2012 are already developed. Always in line with the motto “Cooperate on standards, compete on implementation.”

AI: What did GM’s continuation as core partner mean to AUTOSAR? Was there a danger that GM or other core partners would not sign on and instead opt for other types of membership?

The willingness of General Motors to act again as Core Partner emphasizes the high importance of the standard and proves that AUTOSAR is the key technology worldwide to control the growing complexity of software functionality. As part of the prolongation of the AUTOSAR development agreement scheduled for midyear 2009, General Motors initially decided to continue in 2010 as a Premium Member of AUTOSAR. The decision of GM at that time doesn’t change anything regarding General Motors’ clear commitment to the objectives of AUTOSAR and the application of the AUTOSAR standard.

AI: What has Release 4.0 done for the AUTOSAR partnership? How has it been received by the auto industry?

Currently, release 4.0 has been published, adding definitions for handling multicore processors, TCP/IP, and functional safety. Nevertheless, real-world cars do not yet contain Release 4.0 compliant software. The roll-out of AUTOSAR in vehicles does not happen like a big bang. Instead, every company has to follow its own strategy based on the roadmap of its product lines. The advantages of AUTOSAR are so convincing that in the next years we will see a lot more car model launches having AUTOSAR ECUs on board. OEMs and suppliers are realizing and further developing roadmaps to migrate to AUTOSAR, which proves that AUTOSAR is already a great success.

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