January 31, 2023

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The Role Of Configuration Complexity In The Automotive Industry

Mayank Sikaria is President & cofounder of Sibros, a related car or truck data administration & OTA software program update company.

Over the final 30 many years, car configuration complexity has greater virtually exponentially. In the early ’90s, automobiles had all over 20 digital manage models (ECUs), with luxury styles rounding out to about 25. Contemporary related automobiles have amongst 100 and 150 ECUs, lots of of which manage substantial-degree capabilities that considerably exceed the programming specifications of the late 20th century. How are OEMs attempting to take care of this raise in configuration complexity? Go through on to locate out.

Knowing Configuration Complexity

Let us begin by wanting at where by this complexity will come from. Take a car or truck with 120 ECUs. Every single of these parts has various subsystems or sets of configurations based on the ingredient variety or make. This complexity only grows as we go towards a configurable skateboard-like electric powered motor vehicle (EV) architecture in which the vitality ability of the EV is configured primarily based on the selection of inverters or the selection of mobile modules in the battery pack. We need to also take into consideration battery management devices that use various types of cells. For example, there could be a battery pack with LG cells for one area and Samsung cells for a different.

A different facet of configuration complexity is that each individual controller has distinct program factors. Each individual controller has a bootloader—the program that lets the automaker to update the application code on the controller. Inside of the bootloader, there may well be a most important and secondary bootloader. On best of that, there could be various diverse applications managing on any provided controller. Every application has its very own supply code and associated files—which, in turn, are tightly model-controlled and can undertake several various version improvements for every year.

The upcoming layer of complexity is different car trims. The feature codes involved with a top quality trim will vary from a activity or base model. Then, there are the optional upgrades—adaptive cruise control, heated seats, lane guide, voice recognition and additional. There are also geographical and homologation needs. For instance, a automobile produced in the U.S. and delivered to Mexico could have all of the exact same configurations as the U.S.-destined product except the infotainment procedure, which ought to be reconfigured through a variety of designated calibration parameters prior to cargo.

Ultimately, OEMs should consider part dependencies. Like any device, vehicle components perform alongside one another to carry out a particular endeavor. A compromised unit can (and often will) effect the all round safety, performance and operation of the full procedure. Each time an automaker updates the software package variation for 1 European, it must account for the effects on connected components—which, once again, might differ relying on the vehicle’s make, product, trim, geographic locale, generation calendar year and a range of other variables.

At this place, it should be rather obvious that running all of this complexity and keeping an up to date inventory is particularly demanding. Inefficient management can lead to issues these types of as flashing the incorrect configuration to a specific controller. Most effective-scenario scenario, the driver’s infotainment technique has some glitches or a cargo of cars is delayed due to geographic constraints. In a worst-circumstance situation, the automobile doesn’t get started or the driver encounters a unexpected decline of performance.

Assuaging Complexity With OTA-Dependent Options

One particular way OEMs can relieve the complexity of car or truck program configuration updates is by leveraging above-the-air (OTA) computer software remedies. This holistic tactic can permit the definition of procedures and configuration verification constraints to prevent the upload of invalid configurations, making sure automobile functionality and consumer basic safety. It will not depend on a man or woman heading in and manually wanting at each car manifest to establish what desires to be up to date. Rather, it uses a single definition of focus on application across the whole fleet to update software configurations at scale.

How To Transition To An OTA-Centered Answer

Although OTA methods provide a range of positive aspects, utilizing them can show pretty challenging. Thankfully, there are matters automakers can do to simplicity the transition to an OTA-based mostly remedy for configuration management.

The initial stage is to set up a proper and dependable versioning program for all hardware and application. OEMs must be in a position to recognize both what a piece of hardware is and where by it belongs based on a combination of parts numbers and special identifiers. Program variations ought to use exclusive identifiers, not just for distinct versions on an Ecu but also for bootloaders, applications and calibrations. This can assist make sure edition compatibility inside every single element and the procedure as a entire. For instance, if battery administration technique (BMS) application sets the voltage boundaries for the powertrain, it demands to be compatible with the computer software functioning on the vehicle’s powertrain Ecu.

OEMs ought to use popular apps anywhere possible and leverage calibration documents to deal with tiny deviations. Let’s say a door controller module manages the operation of all four doors, but there is a slight big difference in between the entrance and rear doorways. In this situation, the software must be the same for every single doorway, but the configuration file in between the entrance and rear doors is diverse. This follow can also lessen the value of OTA functions in that it only needs the obtain of a solitary update file rather than 4 independent downloads for every doorway.

In addition, widespread software will have to be preloaded on to the several ECUs and be made to deal with all feasible aspect configurations—even individuals that may stay inactive for the lifetime of the car or truck. A person instance is heated seats. The code that manages heating must be present from the manufacturing stage but remain turned off unless of course the operator elects to order the function.

The Upcoming

As the landscape of the automotive field carries on to evolve, OEMs will need to undertake and apply an productive configuration management approach. Those people who decide on auto-huge OTA as the way forward can simplicity integration by placing up an proper versioning system, leveraging calibration documents and preloading universal code prior to motor vehicle release. Using these measures should decrease configuration complexity and all round charges as very well as assist OEMs continue to be in advance of the competition.

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