The Role Of Configuration Complexity In The Automotive Industry

Mayank Sikaria is President & cofounder of Sibros, a related automobile information administration & OTA software program replace firm.

Over the past 30 years, automobile configuration complexity has elevated nearly exponentially. Within the early ’90s, autos had round 20 digital management models (ECUs), with luxurious fashions rounding out to about 25. Fashionable related autos have between 100 and 150 ECUs, lots of which management high-level capabilities that far exceed the programming necessities of the late twentieth century. How are OEMs trying to handle this enhance in configuration complexity? Learn on to search out out.

Understanding Configuration Complexity

Let’s begin by taking a look at the place this complexity comes from. Take a automobile with 120 ECUs. Every of those elements has a number of subsystems or units of configurations primarily based on the part sort or make. This complexity solely grows as we transfer towards a configurable skateboard-like electrical automobile (EV) structure the place the vitality capability of the EV is configured primarily based on the variety of inverters or the variety of cell modules within the battery pack. We should additionally contemplate battery administration techniques that use several types of cells. For instance, there may be a battery pack with LG cells for one area and Samsung cells for one more.

One other side of configuration complexity is that every controller has completely different software program elements. Each controller has a bootloader—the software program that permits the automaker to replace the appliance code on the controller. Inside the bootloader, there may be a main and secondary bootloader. On high of that, there might be a number of completely different purposes working on any given controller. Every utility has its personal supply code and related recordsdata—which, in flip, are tightly version-controlled and might bear a number of completely different model modifications per yr.

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The following layer of complexity is completely different automobile trims. The characteristic codes related to a premium trim will differ from a sport or base mannequin. Then, there are the non-compulsory upgrades—adaptive cruise management, heated seats, lane help, voice recognition and extra. There are additionally geographical and homologation necessities. For instance, a automobile produced within the U.S. and shipped to Mexico may need all the identical configurations because the U.S.-destined mannequin besides the infotainment system, which have to be reconfigured by quite a lot of designated calibration parameters previous to cargo.

Lastly, OEMs should contemplate part dependencies. Like every machine, automobile elements work collectively to carry out a selected process. A compromised unit can (and sometimes will) influence the general security, effectivity and performance of the entire system. Each time an automaker updates the software program model for one ECU, it should account for the influence on associated elements—which, once more, might differ relying on the automobile’s make, mannequin, trim, geographic location, manufacturing yr and a variety of different variables.

At this level, it ought to be fairly apparent that managing all of this complexity and holding an up to date stock is extraordinarily difficult. Inefficient administration can result in errors equivalent to flashing the inaccurate configuration to a selected controller. Finest-case situation, the driving force’s infotainment system has some glitches or a cargo of autos is delayed on account of geographic restrictions. In a worst-case situation, the automobile would not begin or the driving force experiences a sudden lack of performance.

Assuaging Complexity With OTA-Based mostly Options

A technique OEMs can alleviate the complexity of auto software program configuration updates is by leveraging over-the-air (OTA) software program options. This holistic strategy can allow the definition of guidelines and configuration verification constraints to forestall the add of invalid configurations, making certain automobile performance and person security. It would not depend on an individual stepping into and manually taking a look at each automobile manifest to find out what must be up to date. As a substitute, it makes use of a single definition of goal software program throughout your entire fleet to replace software program configurations at scale.

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How To Transition To An OTA-Based mostly Answer

Though OTA options provide a spread of advantages, implementing them can show fairly difficult. Thankfully, there are issues automakers can do to ease the transition to an OTA-based resolution for configuration administration.

Step one is to arrange a correct and constant versioning system for all {hardware} and software program. OEMs ought to have the ability to establish each what a chunk of {hardware} is and the place it belongs primarily based on a mixture of elements numbers and distinctive identifiers. Software program variations ought to use distinctive identifiers, not only for particular variations on an ECU but in addition for bootloaders, purposes and calibrations. This may help guarantee model compatibility inside every part and the system as an entire. For instance, if battery administration system (BMS) software program units the voltage limits for the powertrain, it must be suitable with the software program working on the automobile’s powertrain ECU.

OEMs ought to use widespread purposes wherever doable and leverage calibration recordsdata to deal with small deviations. As an instance a door controller module manages the performance of all 4 doorways, however there’s a slight distinction between the entrance and rear doorways. On this scenario, the appliance ought to be the identical for each door, however the configuration file between the entrance and rear doorways is completely different. This follow may also scale back the price of OTA operations in that it solely requires the obtain of a single replace file relatively than 4 unbiased downloads for every door.

As well as, widespread software program have to be preloaded onto the varied ECUs and be designed to deal with all doable characteristic configurations—even those who would possibly stay inactive for the lifetime of the automobile. One instance is heated seats. The code that manages heating ought to be current from the manufacturing part however stay turned off except the proprietor elects to buy the characteristic.

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The Future

Because the panorama of the automotive trade continues to evolve, OEMs might want to undertake and implement an efficient configuration administration technique. Those that choose vehicle-wide OTA as the way in which ahead can ease integration by establishing an acceptable versioning system, leveraging calibration recordsdata and preloading common code previous to automobile launch. Taking these steps ought to scale back configuration complexity and total prices in addition to assist OEMs keep forward of the competitors.

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