Anybody who knows how the auto industry ticks (as long as its clock hasn’t run out) sees the next two items as a given:
1.) Cars will be more and more crammed with electronics. Already, some modern cars have more computers and networks than a small business.
2.) Keeping track of the software and its bugs turns more and more into a nightmare.
So far, most large automakers have used their own proprietary solutions, which makes the nightmare even bigger. Many common parts cannot be fitted unless their internal software is “flashed” to be (hopefully) compatible with the car being repaired. Something’s gotta be done. And, finally, it is.
Toyota, Hitachi, Nissan, Honda, Denso, Toshiba, Panasonic, and other Japanese automakers and electrical machinery manufacturers are joining forces to develop a common software infrastructure for automobile electronic control systems by year-end, the Nikkei says. Seventy-three firms will take part in the efforts to standardize software specifications; and an additional fifty or so companies plan to adopt the standardized software.
The project is aimed at developing a software platform for automobile electronic control systems, such as those for the engine, transmission, safety mechanisms, car navigation systems and communications systems. Automakers and auto-parts producers can tweak this common software platform to add unique features.
In Europe, a group of automakers and auto-parts manufacturers (e.g., Volkswagen and the Bosch group) has already been working to develop their version of the standardized software known as the Automotive Open System Architecture, or Autosar. The Japanese group plans to draw up specifications based on Autosar to make the two platforms compatible. A common software infrastructure will help carmakers cut this by 30-50% industry analysts say.