Maria Anhalt, Elektrobit: „Sustainability is a strategic priority.“

Maria Anhalt, Elektrobit: „Sustainability is a strategic priority.“ (Bild: Matthias Baumgartner)

It is a long way from ECU-oriented software to the complex environments and permanent update capability of the software-defined vehicle (SDV). The latter is closely intertwined with back-end and cloud environments - both in the development phase and during its life on the road. Several presentations at AEK 23 showed the way forward.

Not that there hasn't been extensive discussion in the auto industry about software and its importance to the car of the future. But Maria Anhalt, CEO of software house Elektrobit, summarized the sometimes disorganized strands of this discussion. She established the link between the views of software as a "component" and an increasingly important development goal in its design: Sustainability. Anhalt pointed out that software is not simply a functional component of a vehicle, but an efficiency driver. Another important point: When thinking about more sustainability for their cars, developers' ideas have so far gyrated almost exclusively around materials, emissions and infrastructure - software has mostly been left out. Yet software is a game changer because its potential is unlimited, said Anhalt. Its development alone is sustainable, and its use makes it possible to optimize the life cycle of vehicles as well as fleet management.

Christoph Grote, senior vice president at BMW responsible for software development, gave an overview of what has been achieved and what still needs to be achieved in terms of vehicle software. According to him, the digitized car is not only connected and upgradeable, but must also allow the integration of purchased third-party software components. And for all that, this vehicle must provide a user experience perfectly aligned with the brand image. With that, Grote shifted the focus to which software elements his company buys in and where it prefers to keep its own hands on the wheel - namely, where the software interacts directly with the user and where the software allows differentiation. "We don't develop everything ourselves. It would be completely illusory to write all the software inhouse," Grote said, referring to the roughly 500 million lines of code installed in BMW's new flagship, the Seven Series, for example.

Christoph Grote, BMW: "We don't develop everything ourselves. It would be completely illusory to write all the software inhouse."
Christoph Grote, BMW: "We don't develop everything ourselves. It would be completely illusory to write all the software inhouse." (Bild: Matthias Baumgartner)

Particularly in the onboard platform area, the focus is often on integrating purchased software and in-house developments - making program interfaces (APIs) a key issue for vehicle software developers. "We need well-managed, backward-compatible APIs," Grote said. "In many cases, APIs are still handled and controlled in a non-standardized way." Taking into account the long lifespan of vehicles, during which it must be possible to update the installed software, this reveals a challenge that should not be underestimated.

Wendy Bauer, AWS: „Enabling cooperation between all stakeholders.“
Wendy Bauer, AWS: „Enabling cooperation between all stakeholders.“ (Bild: Matthias Baumgartner)

Wendy Bauer focused her presentation on the possibilities and opportunities of cloud-based software development. Bauer is general manager, automotive & manufacturing, at Amazon Web Services (AWS). "There is clearly a disconnect between what the industry wants and the reality in terms of development time, effort and cost in software development," Bauer stated. There are two reasons for this, she said: Increasingly complex vehicle computers and the likewise rapidly increasing scope of software in cars. And with existing processes and methods, the situation will get worse. The approach to problem solving taken by many participants in the value chain also leads to a dead end, the AWS manager predicted. The solution, unsurprisingly, lies in the use of cloud platforms and services. Amazon, she promised, offers the opportunity to solve the aforementioned problems with its cloud-first approach. Amazon's development ecosystem provides virtual environments suitable for the processors built into cars, including support for globally distributed teams, software lifecycle management and vehicle data management. Widespread development tools such as Mathwork Simulink, VEOS from dSpace and Corbos from Elektrobit are also available in this cloud environment. The bottom line, according to Bauer's promise, is that with a cloud-first approach, users can not only bring their software to market faster and at lower cost, but also achieve higher software quality.

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