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A strategic partnership between two automotive software developers led to a lucrative contract with luxury vehicle manufacturer, Audi in July 2010. 

In early 2010, Audi called for bids from suppliers of AUTOSAR basic software modules. The manufacturer’s specifications included modules for communication over CAN, LIN, and FlexRay, as well as RTE and end-to-end protection for safety-related ECUs.

Earlier that year, Vector Informatik GmbH and TTTech Automotive GmbH had entered into a strategic partnership focusing on the development and sale of standard software modules for electronic control units (ECUs). Under the partnership, both companies aligned their software development in order to jointly work on support and delivery. Their first project was a TTTech Automotive module that ensured communication integrity with MICROSAR – Vector’s AUTOSAR basic software. 

Based on their expertise, Audi awarded the contract to Vector and TTTech in July, 2010. The company said that choosing one supplier for the basic software of all ECUs benefits both Audi developers and ECU manufacturers. Other factors which counted in the partnership’s favor were their highly efficient configuration of communication parameters and Vector’s comprehensive worldwide services. 

Both Vector and TTTech Automotive believe that by combining the strengths of both partners, ECU developers will be offered an ideal solution for every application. Vector’s focus is on AUTOSAR basic software modules, while TTTech Automotive puts emphasis on safety-related software modules according to ISO 26262, and provides further expertise in the area of FlexRay. 

Vector Informatik GmbH, a German firm founded in 1988, provides tools, software components, and engineering services for the networking of electronic systems in the automobile and related industries.

The company prides itself on providing complete solutions for AUTOSAR projects, which include offering customers a comprehensive tool range. This includes ECU software MICROSAR – a product family that provides efficient and scalable basic software modules and an RTE for AUTOSAR ECUs. It also covers the entire range of AUTOSAR 3.x releases. 

TTTech Automotive was established a decade after Vector, with its headquarters located in Vienna, Austria. The company’s focus is on developing safe and reliable networks for the transportation industry. 

TTTech’s automotive division focuses on enabling safe communication and networking – up to SIL3/ASIL D. Its product range includes modular hardware and software solutions based on certified safety modules, as well as effective system solutions based on the TTC standard control unit family. The company also develops reliable testing devices for bus systems such as FlexRay and CAN. 

Both Vector and TTTech have offices in the most significant automotive regions, and both are premium members of the AUTOSAR consortium.

Automotive Industries spoke to Dr. Stefan Poledna, CEO of TTTech Computertechnik AG and asked him about some of the benefits of working together with Vector Informatik on the development of software modules for ECUs.

Poledna: Our company has always focused its activities on safety-relevant systems. Producing safety-related software takes a great deal of effort and the development of safety-related and non-safety-related software in the emerging market would have meant significantly higher investments on our part. 

Through our partnership with Vector, we can combine the best of both worlds – high-quality AUTOSAR software from Vector, and TTTech’s cutting-edge safety software which addresses the highest ISO 26262 safety level, ASIL D. 

AI: Tell us about the work you are doing for Audi – what are some of the safety innovations TTTech has brought to the modules?
Poledna: Audi is undoubtedly among our leading customers in the automotive business unit, and we are proud to have our products integrated into a number of models. 

The importance of the ISO 26262 standard was recognized very early on in Ingolstadt. The current A8 model uses both our Flexray communication software, and our ASIL D-compliant communication safety software. Integrating this safety communication software into the AUTOSAR specifications was the next logical step for us. The modular structure of the software, as well as its simple integration into existing AUTOSAR (as well as non-AUTOSAR) environments, makes it an ideal candidate for many safety-related ECUs. 

AI: Can you tell us about your other customers for the Vector-TTTech software modules?

Poledna: The feedback from the market regarding our cooperation with Vector was very positive, and all of our existing customers continue to trust products and solutions from TTTech. Due to our partnership with Vector, we are now in a position to address an even wider market with our safety software solutions.

Automotive Industries also spoke to Dr. Helmut Schelling, managing director of Vector Informatik GmbH and asked him why he decided to partner with TTTech?

Schelling: Since 1992, we have been developing basic software for a large number of automotive OEMs. The effort required to supply mature and complete basic software has increased once again with AUTOSAR. Not only do we need to master AUTOSAR’s large range of functional features and high complexity, we also need to support several AUTOSAR releases in parallel with OEM-specific modifications or additions. The market is still very limited, so we think it makes sense to forge partnerships wherever 
the specific strengths of our strategic partners complement our own strengths.

The idea for the joint venture with TTTech came from our customers, who indicated that they would have an increasing need for safety-related ECU solutions in the near future. We already cover the entire bandwidth of basic software modules. Now, we can utilize TTTech’s experience to extend into the area of safety-related systems. These are ideal conditions for a strategic cooperation.

AI: Tell us about Vector’s expertise in AUTOSAR and what this expertise brings to its automotive customers.

Schelling: For many years before the AUTOSAR idea was formulated, we were working on core elements of AUTOSAR. Our basic software known as CANbedded, with a focus on communication and operating systems was being used in hundreds of ECU projects and our tool suite, DaVinci, was the first professional tool to support function-oriented software development for an ECU network. 

We joined the AUTOSAR consortium as early as 2004 as a Premium Member and since then, we have contributed to the specification of AUTOSAR in several work packages. 

Our AUTOSAR team is made up of more than 100 engineers. A wide range of expertise and many years of experience are evident into our MICROSAR solution which we offer as a tailored product to our customers. 

AI: What are some of the new projects the two companies are working on?
Schelling: Beyond the E2E protection, we are focusing on an environment for safety-related software components under the name, Safe Execution. The core elements are program flow monitoring and memory protection. 

The challenge is an efficient combination of these safety mechanisms with the operating system and the existing watchdog mechanism for the different microcontroller platforms. This is a task where the close cooperation and the combination of the specific knowledge of our two companies can lead to optimal solutions. We already offer beta versions for use by our customers.

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