I wanted to learn more about AUTOSAR, and so I spoke with two experts from General Motors – Nady Boules, director of GM’s Electrical & Controls Integration Lab, and Massimo Osella, lab group manager for electronic controls and software architecture at GM R&D.
GM doesn’t have AUTOSAR software components in a production vehicle as yet, but as a core partner, the firm has been working with the AUTOSAR Consortium from its earliest days.
“Electronic content in cars has tripled in the past ten years in terms of cost per-vehicle; the number of ECUs has at least doubled, if not more, and the number of lines of code has grown by two orders of magnitude,” says Boules. “We have to find means for dealing with that level of complexity. We look at the AUTOSAR standards as an enabler to do some of the things that we would like to do, but do it robustly, in a way that is also cost-effective.”
“Historically, the development of software modules was driven more by suppliers than by OEMs,” says Osella. “With AUTOSAR, OEMs and suppliers share the advantage of a common interface. We will be able to develop our own intellectual property and share it with different suppliers and make everything coexist in a standardized ECU hardware platform. Suppliers can make minor modifications to their software IP and sell it to many different OEMs. It is a win-win approach that allows more flexibility, and it’s becoming almost mandatory to cope with this higher complexity in the future.”
Boules says versions of the standard have been released, but updates are still in process. “We need the suppliers to be ready, and we also need to have the development tools. You need a tool kit that will allow you to design with AUTOSAR in mind to produce software that is AUTOSAR compliant. Suppliers are still working on these toolkits.”
Osella notes that GM has several third-party development tools under evaluation. “The vendors are working very hard. We like what we see so far, but an additional level of maturity is needed. The user interface is pretty good, but we would like to see more integration of the different development stacks from the conceptual development down to automatic software generation.”