software development in cars

Why is software so useful in automotive?

What does the term “useful” mean? It refers to the things that are most important in terms of what we consider functional, bringing the highest value. And when we ask several people what is the most useful software in the automotive industry – we may get completely different answers, for example “safety”, “infotainment”, “comfort”. We will try to show you the automotive industry from many sides – so that you can choose the things that best fit your perception of the automotive industry! 

 

There are many types of software on board a car. Even in the 90’s, in cars with CAN bus on board you could find a lot of subsystems that determine whether you enjoy using the vehicle, how safe it is, and even how the air conditioning behaves. It’s all about the configuration of the car that was done – in those years at the factory (sometimes with limited “upgrade” capability). These days, updating a car’s on-board software is fabulously easy. As soon as the one has how to connect to the Internet – it is possible to make the update process. Sometimes new features appear then, or other features are improved. Therefore, in this article we will start from how useful is the software that guards… The update process. 

 

Today, it is even more difficult because updating the software in a car is a very sensitive point. One badly written line of code can determine whether or not the adaptive cruise control will work properly and whether or not we’ll get into someone’s trunk. You have to take into account many factors and make sure that the update process is always correct and does not cause errors. In addition, it is important to ensure that every update does not lead to possible problems that could put passengers and the driver at risk. 

 

Different modules are updated and this is a huge challenge for car manufacturers. IT companies that have always toiled over updates have better structured processes that are responsible for things like updates. With car manufacturers, on the other hand, it’s different: many companies have very young systems responsible for updates: both at the level of the car itself and the servers. Hence, this is a huge challenge – but at the same time an opportunity for many customers buying cars today. 

Why automotive in software is the future?

Nowadays, every vehicle contains a multitude of subsystems that determine various things. Of course, the most important is the safety of the driver and passengers. Hence, updates and their process must occur correctly – always. It’s a huge challenge for car manufacturers mainly because companies that have been providing programming for years – have their processes perfectly arranged in this regard. Companies in the automotive industry are just beginning to implement these processes. However, there has already been tremendous progress in this area. Today, thanks to car software development, the vehicle can be updated in the same way as it is done with other devices. All you have to do is connect to your home WiFi network or simply let the car run on its own – the on-board computer will make the necessary adjustments itself. 

 

Imagine how much easier this is for car manufacturers! In the past, a mistake in a single module, in a single line of code could cause a huge number of vehicles to report to authorized service centers. This, of course, generates costs and some customers may not want to come to the service for various reasons. Such places used to use specialized cables and tools to make one small change. In addition, the whole production process had to be adapted to new conditions, needs and it had to be “updated” as well. The cost of one mistake could be enormous. Today, you simply make those changes and run tests. If everything works well – the upgrade is released to OTA (over the air) servers. 

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Being able to make such changes is also a way to someday make cars work as a…. service – not just as a product. Imagine paying for a car the way you pay for Netflix or Spotify. Depending on your monthly spending, you have different feature sets. For X amount of dollars, you can have a package without heated seats, but if during the use of the vehicle you decide that you need them: you can buy them. The heaters, controller and software are in the vehicle all the time, but until you change your subscription – they are completely inactive. Of course, this makes room for people who have a lot of knowledge about cybersecurity and car software architecture – but this applies to a very small group. Any unauthorized access to the vehicle would also result in the vehicle simply ceasing to function properly and the contract being broken. 

 

Manufacturer control of the software – update subsystems that manage the vehicle at the level of functionality would result in standardized designs. Please believe that for an automaker, the fact that they are only able to produce one variant – which has all the amenities but is available on a subscription basis – will mean savings, despite the price of the components used. Why? It unifies the manufacturing process, and a unified production line is a huge benefit to the manufacturer, who can produce faster, more accurately, and more conveniently. This will drive, in our opinion, a process where subscription models will be readily available to users – because of the price. 

Software in automotive – vehicle communication methods – V2V, V2P and others

We are moving towards super-intelligent and eventually – also autonomous passenger cars. At this point the level of autonomy is high anyway, but we need to keep in mind that car manufacturers and legislative processes need to be ready for this revolution. We will wait at least one more decade for fully legal, widely available autonomous cars. But until then, all cars can start communicating with each other – and even with bicycles, pedestrians, and city infrastructures. Imagine a city’s traffic lights reacting to the flow of traffic and telling your car how fast to go through each intersection to get to all the green lights. You don’t have to slow down, start again and lose fuel or battery power in the process. It is when starting that energy losses are greatest, because of the need to overcome rolling resistance and resistance resulting from, among other things, the need to drive other moving parts of the vehicle (in internal combustion engines – also all the moving parts inside them). Such a car will also react to the fact that there is an ambulance in its vicinity, and at that moment it needs to quickly get to a patient who is fighting for life. Currently, the car can show you a notification about this, and in the future – it will choose another route or slow down: allowing the ambulance to pass quickly. 

 

So far, V2V systems work to inform drivers of hazards. A great example is the car’s ability to adjust suspen