Key to Success: Software Development

New methods, needs and business models – IAV offers integration expertise and proprietary solutions

Mobility needs and the automobile market are rapidly changing. This is having a huge impact on software development, for example through the growing convergence of vehicles and consumer electronics. IAV covers the entire spectrum in this field – from embedded software and back-end solutions to developing apps. With its own solutions and as a competent partner in production-level software and integration, IAV is actively involved in shaping digitalization.

Today, vehicles are more and more becoming part of the digitally connected world. The experts from McKinsey are expecting an annual increase of approx. 30 percent for connected cars. This will also result in changes to consumer demands on the products of automobile manufacturers. Connectivity will become a purchasing criterion.

“They will expect high-quality functions in the vehicle which will advance as quickly as the apps familiar from cell phones. This will necessitate architectures that make it possible to extend and upgrade functions in future and securely get the new software in the vehicle over the air”, says Markus Blonn, Senior Vice President of Network Software at IAV. “At the same time, we are contending with new players on the market who are offering their own services and using development methods that are only just becoming established in the automotive industry. On top of this, the maelstrom of the market is demanding new ways of thinking and new structures for everyone involved. Development will center more on the software.”

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Liaising between worlds

Alongside shorter development cycles, there will be a greater demand for integration expertise in the future. “Even today, IAV already covers the entire spectrum of software development”, says Marko Meyer, Senior Project Manager at IAV. “Although we have a tradition of implementing software in the field of embedded systems, we are now also a partner for turnkey control unit integration as well as connectivity solutions.” This is why IAV’s developers understand the language of both the “IT” and “automotive” worlds and can liaise between them, for example when it comes to the interfaces between subsystems or defining concepts for an overall software architecture. Special knowledge is needed for integrating the automotive world into the IT world. Targeted partnerships bring greater efficiency to get solutions ready for the market more quickly.

In cross-functional project teams, solutions are developed for domain control units. “In ADAS projects, for instance, we develop software components for lighting functions, traffic sign recognition and autonomous emergency braking (AEB). Within projects, IAV is also software integrator. Besides IAV components, functions are provided from TIER1 and its suppliers which we bring together to create the overall software”, Meyer reports.

In future, it will also be important to satisfy the needs of two different customer groups. On the one hand, the OEMs will still be important clients, with the end-users of the vehicles taking on increasing importance on the other. They will not only expect user interfaces of the type they are familiar with from their smartphones or tablet computers. Depending on the market, they will also place completely different demands on vehicle functions. For instance, European vehicle owners want assistance in looking for somewhere to park, whereas US motorists place more emphasis on available parking space being safe.

New development methods, continuous training

IAV began to adjust to the growing importance of software and the convergence with the IT world many years ago. The focus here has been on domain computer architectures. “Besides the V model, we are also well acquainted with agile methods, such as Scrum”, Blonn reports. “To keep up with the latest developments, we constantly train our software developers, for example in the fields of software architecture, agile development methods, functional safety or continuous integration/delivery. This also helps to make sure that the ‘same language’ is spoken in projects, and continues to enhance our software expertise.” The aim is to break with an outdated silo mentality and fully exploit the creative potential of some 1,000 IAV software developers across domain boundaries.

A new way of thinking will be imperative if the OEMs want to operate on a level playing field with new competitors in future and not merely become suppliers of hardware. “The ambition must be to offer joint solutions on the basis of a platform architecture and therefore be able to integrate services from various players”, Meyer argues. “To do this, automobile manufacturers should cooperate with partners from the IT world and, if necessary, adopt existing solutions. If they manage to combine their vehicles with attractive digital services, they will be able to maintain long-term customer loyalty.” Advancing digitalization will provide the key to enabling OEMs to make the transition from being vehicle manufacturers to becoming mobility service providers. Enhancing software expertise is the basis for successful business development.

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