microprocessors and software (see Pictures of the Future, Fall 2004, p. 45) have made new systems possible that promise to become a major competitive factor throughout the au- tomobile industry. Not only are new services such as dynamic stability control, automatic lane keeping, and even drive- and brake-by- wire on the horizon, but existing technologies are constantly being fine-tuned to improve comfort, performance and safety.
The problem is that today each module that provides a service comes with its own mi- croprocessor and proprietary software — and there are already as many as 80 processors in
With this in mind, major automobile man- ufacturers around the world, suppliers (in- cluding Siemens VDO as a Core Partner), and others have hammered out AUTOSAR, which is a standardized platform on which future ve- hicle applications can be modularly imple- mented. "By providing a clear infrastructure
architecture and standardized interfaces —
and defining rules as to how to write software that meets these needs, AUTOSAR sets the stage for affordable and practical integration and transfer of functions,” says Reinhold Achatz, head of the Software and Engineer- ing Division at Siemens Corporate Technol-
It will soon be possible to upgrade navigation- and entertainment-related functions, ensuring that vehicle electronics keep pace with technologies as they evolve.
some high-end cars. As such services prolifer- ate, the amount of time and money spent on adapting software from one model year to the next, as well as across product families, is increasing exponentially. "Naturally, we want to be able to introduce important new safety- related functions as they become available; but the goal is to do so as cost-effectively as possible,” says Prof. Harald Heinecke, former Speaker of the AUTOSAR development part- nership and head of BMW Car IT GmbH, a BMW subsidiary that specializes in IT solutions and automotive software development.
ogy, which played a leading role in designing AUTOSAR’S architecture. Simplified integra- tion and transfer of functions could mean, for example, that existing software governing a car’s motor electronics could be transferred to its power management module and would be automatically integrated. The result would be higher efficiency without the cost of rewriting the software.
What’s more, if a competing supplier comes up with better software to govern mo- tor electronics, the automobile manufacturer can replace its old software with the new ver-
sion in its next model, or even offer the change as an upgrade in existing vehicles — all without making any significant modifica- tions to the software. "The advantage — and the novelty — of AUTOSAR is that it makes it possible to have interchangeability of func- tions between suppliers, while simplifying in- tegration and limiting costs,” says Heinecke.
Obviously, auto manufacturers stand to benefit from AUTOSAR — but so do suppliers. If twenty suppliers develop twenty competing programs for an ABS system, for instance, chances are that most of the effort will be lost in reinventing the wheel. But if the standards for that braking system are universally known and the software development tools them- selves have been standardized, each supplier can focus its resources on innovations. Fur- thermore, suppliers can work together to cut costs and hone their technological edge. Ei- ther way, experts agree that AUTOSAR will tend to level the playing field, while allowing market forces to bring the best technologies to the consumer.
When AUTOSAR is completed in 2006, the automotive industry will begin a subtle but profound transformation. Thanks to standard- ization, the process of developing, introduc- ing, upgrading and exchanging software components in automobiles will be acceler- ated. Software will become increasingly reusable, thus cutting errors, increasing de- pendability, and lowering costs.
Comprehensive Platform. Plans call for AUTOSAR, which will initially be limited to managing so-called "low level” functions — something akin to breathing and heartbeat in the human body — to soon evolve into a comprehensive platform that will accommo- date the integration of things like navigation, communication and entertainment as well. These "higher level” functions — the rough equivalent of the five senses — will also be in- tegrated, first with each other, and eventually with the AUTOSAR platform. With this process in mind, Siemens VDO has developed Top Level Architecture (TLA), a kind of plug’n’play structure to allow infotainment systems from different vendors to recognize each other au- tomatically and be upgraded or exchanged as technologies evolve.
The basic idea behind TLA is simple, ex- plains Günter Hauptmann, a member of the Siemens VDO Executive Board: "There are two types of products in vehicles: those that do not change, and those that do. The former have a life span of five to seven years. The lat- ter are commodities that have a life span of
six to twelve months. TLA offers an architec- ture that allows commodity products to be upgraded throughout the life of the vehicle — and an opportunity for end users to enjoy the same level of service integration in their vehi- cles as they do in a wired environment.”
Always Online. But the Siemens VDO vision of our automotive future goes well beyond what we have at home or in the office. Today, even something as simple as finding the near- est Mexican restaurant in your area can be a challenge that requires time-honored tools like maps and phone books. With TLA, how- ever, a new world of connectivity may be at hand. "We believe that in the near future, as soon as you enter your car, you will be on- line,” says Dr. Anton Mindl, CEO, Infotainment Systems at Siemens VDO. He explains that TLA, which is based on Java (a flexible, open standard language), the Open Service Gate- way Initiative (a standard that allows devices to recognize each other on a plug’n’play ba- sis), and its own XML-based human-machine interface (HMI), will make it possible to not only create new forms of connectivity — say between a car and a restaurant — but to sup- port new interfaces tailored to the automo- tive environment.
Robert Simon, who heads TLA platform development at Siemens VDO, expects that in the near future it will be possible to verbally ask your car for the name and location of the nearest Mexican restaurant and have the nav- igation system not only direct you there, but reserve a parking space, and a table that meets your preferences. "It’s not a difficult thing to do,” he says. "We’re almost there al- ready. What’s still missing to make this sce- nario possible is a service provider and an HMI designed to offer the provider’s information in a way that a driver can use safely. As soon as that business case becomes available, we will be ready to make it happen with TLA.”
As Hauptmann and others at VDO see it, TLA’s modular approach to combining soft- ware building blocks will eventually snap in- fotainment systems into the larger AUTOSAR picture. At that point, advanced services such as full-windshield navigational displays that synch flawlessly with reality could be com- bined with underlying safety-critical informa- tion — even from other cars. The vehicle ahead of you might then flash an emergency message to your infotainment system, caus- ing your windshield display to highlight one of its tires and indicate a rapid loss of pressure — g i v i n g y o u j u s t e n o u g h t i m e t o a v o i d a l i f e - ■ A r t h u r F . P e a s e threatening accident.
According to Siemens’ “Future of Automo-
tive” study, which details developments until 2020, the number of vehicle models will con- tinue to increase. And whereas customers in emerging markets will require safe, low-cost automobiles, their counterparts in industrial- ized countries want comfortable upper-range cars. In addition, new electronic systems and optimized components will further reduce fuel consumption and emissions. (p. 42)
Passive driving safety systems such as air
bags and ABS will be augmented by active systems that will, e.g., help drivers see better at night, stay in lane, keep a safe distance from other vehicles, and drive in stop-and-go traffic. Siemens VDO Automotive is contribut- ing to the effort and presented a “seeing” car at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt in September, 2005. The vehicle, a BMW, is equipped with a Siemens VDO sensor system that helps drivers by scanning and evaluating the area around the car. The system is easy to use, so drivers won’t be overburdened. (p. 46)
Drivers will always retain ultimate control
and will be able to manually override vehicle responses. Assistance systems will first draw attention to a potential hazard before issuing a warning. (pp. 42, 46)
Researchers at Siemens Corporate Technol-
ogy and Siemens VDO are cooperating in nu- merous projects — e.g. to develop sensors that measure air quality in cars, an aug- mented-reality system for improved naviga- tion, and a traffic-jam assistant that maintains the right distance from the next car even in curves and at low speeds. (pp. 48, 49, 50)
Because cars will increasingly communicate
with one another, their drivers and traffic con- trol centers, drivers will be able to operate more vehicle functions via voice control. To this end, Siemens has developed the Very Smart Recog- nizer (VSR), which can understand ca. 30,000 clearly spoken words. The system will be ready for production at the end of 2006. (p. 56)
Siemens is working on a revolutionary brake
concept. Instead of the hydraulic systems in use today, the new electronically regulated wedge brake can brake the wheels individu- ally and very efficiently. The technology is ideal for hybrid vehicles, which use both an electronic motor and a combustion engine and thus have more electronic controllers than other vehicles. (p. 54)
PEOPLE: Automobiles in general: Dr. Jochen Kölzer, CT SM firstname.lastname@example.org Roger Deckers, SV email@example.com Dr. Reiner Höger, SV firstname.lastname@example.org Driver assistance systems: Dirk Zittlau, SV email@example.com Michael Lütz, SV firstname.lastname@example.org Infotainment: Dr. Hans-Gerd Krekels, SV email@example.com Communication: Dr. Abdelkarim Belhoula, SV firstname.lastname@example.org Voice recognition: Gerhard Hoffmann, CT IC 5 email@example.com Dr. Michael Lützeler, CT IC 5 firstname.lastname@example.org Traffic-jam assistant: Dr. Georg von Wichert, CT IC 6 email@example.com Air quality in cars: Dr. Maximilian Fleischer, CT PS 8 firstname.lastname@example.org Automotive software: Dr. Anton Mindl, SV email@example.com Reinhold Achatz, CT SE firstname.lastname@example.org Electronic wedge brakes: Bernd Gombert, SV email@example.com Karsten Hofmann, SV firstname.lastname@example.org
Hans-Georg Metzler, DaimlerChrysler, email@example.com Dr. Thomas Schlick, VDA, firstname.lastname@example.org
LINKS: Siemens VDO: www.siemensvdo.com Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Assoc. www.mema.org Overview of future auto technology: www.driveusa.net/future_cars.htm
LITERATURE: Whitfield, Kermit Toward the Plug-and-Play Car, Gardener Publications (HTML), 2005 Ehsani, Mehrdad Modern Electric, Electric Hy- brid, and Fuel Cell Vehicles, CRC Press, 2004
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2005