Skip to content

AUTOSAR – complexity made simpler

Etteplan uses AUTOSAR to help customers bring sense and order to automotive systems which are constantly increasing in complexity.

“This car is so smart it could drive itself.” It wasn’t very long ago that this was a joke or hyperbole about increasing technology in automobiles. Now we really are on the cusp of cars driving themselves. This long process involved increasingly complex software and systems which was made simpler by AUTOSAR, a partnership which manages an open and standardised software architecture for the auto industry.

“One way to think of AUTOSAR is like Windows on a computer,” says Michał Latuszek, software design engineer at Etteplan. “You can use the Windows operating system and build applications on top of it, such as games or spreadsheets. AUTOSAR is similar, but the applications are for the car such as airbags or advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS).”

AUTOSAR – Automotive Open System Architecture – includes vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and service providers such as BMW, Bosch and Toyota. AUTOSAR describes basic software modules, defines application interfaces and builds a common development methodology. Basic software modules can be used in the vehicles of different manufacturers.

Increasing efficiency

“My part here at Etteplan is to help our clients configure AUTOSAR below the application layer,” Latuszek explains.

The goals of AUTOSAR are to bring some sense and order to the complex world of automotive Electronic Control Units (ECUs), helping to improve productivity and efficiency. The end result are vehicles with greater performance, safety and environmental friendliness.

“The modern vehicle might have fifty ECUs,” Latuszek continues. “We might have one for the electric windows and one for the engine, for example. They need to be connected with other ECUs in order to send and receive messages. AUTOSAR can give this functionality, but it needs to be configured so that it meets our requirements.”

Safety improvements through AUTOSAR

Every company is a software company, according to the cliché, but that is hard to argue against in the automotive sector. About 80 per cent of automotive innovations today require advanced software. Examples are hybrid powertrains, telediagnostics or adaptive headlights.

“One fascinating field I have worked on is ADAS,” says Latuszek. “You have cameras and sensors to see the position and operation of the vehicle. The input from a sensor leads to an output from an actuator. The driver will see the benefit of a variety of applications, such as adaptive cruise control, automated parking or assistance to stay in his lane.”

Although these systems might improve the efficiency of a vehicle, Latuszek stresses how much safety has been improved by solutions such as electronic brake control, collision mitigation or electronic stability control. These would be impossible today without advanced software applications and an architecture such as AUTOSAR.

Soon you might download a self-driving app

Yet there is a catch: all these systems have increased complexity and drastically increased data rate requirements. Increased connectivity also means new vulnerabilities.

“A high-end vehicle might have 100 ECUs and 5 or 6 unique CAN (Controller Area Network) busses,” Latuszek points out. “Multiple ECUs are networked together and share increasing amounts of data in order to satisfy the new driver features. This increased connectivity also means we need serious cybersecurity.”

He mentions a case where a journalist hired hackers to see if it was possible to remotely hack a vehicle. It was. They not only changed his radio station and climate control, they actually disabled his transmission as he was driving. Security is now a critical and integral part of every vehicle system. The complexity of a modern car brings challenges such as hackers. As AUTOSAR evolves we may soon have more agile systems in a car.

“Up till now the classic AUTOSAR has run on the C programming language. In the future we will see C++ used,” Latuszek says. “The system will not be static, but agile and flexible. You will use your car like your use your mobile phone to download apps. You have radar and cameras already on your car, so maybe you will download an app which uses them in new ways, like helping you stay in your lane. It is a very exciting time to be in this industry and I look forward to the future.”