How to simplify and accelerate advanced automobile development

IBM extends the AUTOSAR promise of value

By | 2 minute read | December 14, 2021

Woman in driver's seat of self-driving car, not holding steering wheel

The automotive open system architecture (AUTOSAR) was developed in 2003 by engineers in the automotive industry to create an open and standardized software model for electronic control units (ECUs) used in vehicles. These engineers foresaw a seismic change in automobile engineering. Sophisticated software, control units, computing power, and cloud connectivity would enable the development of increasingly complex cars that integrate driving assist, artificial intelligence, crash avoidance, and eventually full autonomous operation.

As the software critical to automobile development advanced exponentially, the industry needed software standards to enable several aspects of development: reuse and transferability across variants and versions, ecosystem collaboration, compliance with safety requirements, ease of maintainability and serviceability, and design of greener, more sustainable vehicles. Today, compliance with the AUTOSAR standard is part of the motor industry software reliability association’s (MISRA) guidelines for developing embedded control systems and standalone software used in road vehicles.

For development teams, the shift from a mechanical to a software mindset and skillset to deliver advanced automobiles is challenging. AUTOSAR provides a “common playbook” that automotive OEMs, partners, and suppliers can all leverage to better collaborate and innovate. But the power of AUTOSAR is not without its own level of complexity. The standardized software architecture requires engineers know how to code and follow specific guidelines to reap its full value. Because it is difficult to staff teams of coding experts, existing engineers need to invest significant time to learn and adapt to the architecture. Considering shrinking product lifecycles and the need to bring differentiated products to market faster, time is a luxury companies can ill afford.

For AUTOSAR to truly deliver on its promise to help the automotive industry leverage standardized software, it needs to be as easy to use as possible. IBM Engineering has addressed the challenge of making AUTOSAR easier to use by developing and delivering the IBM Engineering Systems Design Rhapsody – AUTOSAR Extension. Through a graphical but formal design environment, engineers with little formal AUTOSAR knowledge can focus on the software logic. The offering generates AUTOSAR-compliant artifacts, including production code.

The IBM AUTOSAR Extension provides the capability to convert SysML and UML models into AUTOSAR and generate software components for the Classic platform and applications for the Adaptive platform through UML diagrams. It also supports a flexible development process that allows for late re-targeting, to address different design solutions and price points.

As the AUTOSAR specification represented a major step forward in the development of increasingly complex software-driven electronics in automobiles, the IBM AUTOSAR Extension represents the next step along that same journey to substantially improve the development efficiency and quality of software running the car. Companies can bring advanced products to market faster without being experts in the standard.