Software blueprint via keystroke

The more functions are combined in automotive control units, the more difficult and complex is their integration. A new IAV platform allows for the inclusion to be carried out by suppliers in two days – completely unique in the market. The next step is to roll out the tool as a web service.

Fewer control units distributed across the vehicle, instead central computers with high computing power: This is what the IT architecture in the car will look like in the future. For example, this allows a central domain controller to take over many functions from the powertrain and chassis sectors, replacing a small two-digit number of conventional control units. This is based on powerful multicore microprocessors and real-time operating systems that enable multitasking.

Many suppliers contribute individual functions that later run on the domain controller. Some of them need input values, for example wheel drive and speed, while others need to store data, for instance for documenting emission values. The software architecture must ensure that all information is reliably distributed to the individual functions.

“We have to take this into account during the development,” explains Stephan Reichelt, Head of Department Vehicle Software Solutions at IAV.

«It’s very similar to building a house: one has to place pipes and cable correctly when planning, so that water, electricity and data can flow later.»

Stephan Reichelt — Head of Department Vehicle Software Solutions at IAV

Two days instead of six weeks

Software developers use AUTOSAR (Automotive Open System Architecture), a version of the XML description language that is specifically adapted to the needs of the automotive industry. Extensive documents illustrate, among other things, which functions exist, which interfaces they connect, how quickly certain functions must be executed and how they should be separated from each other.

A powerful domain controller quickly brings together more than 100 megabytes of pure text that developers must create manually. This can take four to six weeks and will need to be tackled again for each new software integration level. To reduce this effort significantly, IAV has developed an AUTOSAR tool chain for a customer. It relieves engineers of the manual work involved in the creation of AUTOSAR documents and reduces the processing time from several weeks to just two days.

“We are reducing the effort by over 90 percent,” estimates Reichelt. In the first step, the tool receives the information provided by the suppliers on the individual functions. Typical formats are text documents, Excel files, CSV files or other AUTOSAR documents. The tool can also be adapted to other formats.

Webbased platform planned

This is followed by a check of the input data: Which functions talk to each other? In what format must the data be transferred? Are the desired data available? If the tool detects a problem here, it will be reported immediately and can be corrected within a short period of time. In the next step, the input data is transferred to a special model and stored in a database.

“We store the input data in versioned form,” reports Reichelt. “The model enables data separation and integration, so that one can work on two variants in parallel and merge them later.” In addition, customerspecific features can be stored directly in the data model via an expansion interface. In the end, the IAV tool automatically generates an AUTOSAR document that describes the software architecture – in any output format.

Since 2020, the new tool has been in use and has exceeded the expectations of the customer. “On the one hand, it is to be used for another control unit, on the other hand, there are also requests for the new solution from other departments of our customer,” says Reichelt.

«No wonder: Our tool is unique, there is nothing comparable on the market.»

Stephan Reichelt — Head of Department Vehicle Software Solutions at IAV

IAV is currently developing the tool further: In the future it will be available as a web-based platform, so that all parties involved can upload new documents about their functions at any time. New AUTOSAR documents could then even be generated within a few hours. Independently of this, IAV is working on providing additional tools for the AUTOSAR development process as part of its own development.


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