Research E/E architecture goes open source

Research E/E architecture goes open source

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

The Automotive Service Bus has been developed within the scope of the Visio.M project – a project that aims at devising a very energy-efficient battery-electric small car with near-series features. A prototype of the vehicle has been introduced almost a year ago; now the development team unveiled details about its software architecture which has been developed from scratch. Much like a smartphone’s architecture it is structured in two layers – one layer contains all driving and safety-relevant functions while in the other one the comfort functions are located, along with the communication with the driver (HMI) and with the internet. As a protection measure against cyber attacks the two systems are running on separate platforms. A single central control unit manages all vital functions that connects via CAN bus to actuators and sensors. The HMI and the external communications functionality run on an web-enabled computer. Its basic principle builds on the Automotive Service Bus.

Fighting complexity: The Automotive Service Bus is an automotive E/E architecture that enables modifications and enhancements throughout the vehicle’s service life without compromising the safety. For full resolution click here.

The Automotive Service Bus functions as a message channel. All components connected can transmit and receive messages across this channel. The safety and security of the system is guaranteed through the fact that all these components normally have only reading access; only in strictly defined exceptional cases the central control unit grants writing permission.

Basically there are three types of messages: Events contain information, such as the current speed or position. Instructions are enabling interactions between individual components like setting a target temperature for the air conditioning system. The third message type is preferences – these messages contain driver-specific data such as preferred music type or home address. There is a common grammar for all components and message types. Additional functions, or components, can added, much like apps in a smartphone. They also can be updated, appended or deleted without the need to visit a garage.

The human-machine interface is implemented as a graphical user interface (GUI). Its centerpiece is a screen in the dashboard. While in the Visio.M prototype the controls are implemented as a classical circular instrument, it is possible to give it any desired appearance. A touchscreen in the centre stack accepts instructions from the driver. To keep driver’s distraction as low as possible the researchers implemented simple swipe gestures; in contrast to a smartphone, no elements require great accuracy. If existing functions are modified or new ones are added, the appearance of the user interface remains basically the same – it simply contains additional or different functions. Users can adapt the GUI to their personal preferences without the need to modify individual components. With this concept, its creators enable cars that change their appearance and functionality over their service life and, in contrast to conventional vehicles, even after they have been manufactured. The approach with two separated layers allows updates and modifications at any time. According to Michael Schermann who oversees that Automotive Service Lab at the Chair for Computer Science in Economics at the TUM, the Automotive Service Bus is also well suited to implement specific services, for instance for rental vehicles.

In October 2014, the Visio.M received its official road-use certification. After the research project has been concluded successfully, the developers now announced to make the Automotive Service Bus available to the public under an open source license. „This will provide developers around the world the opportunity to use this platform for their own research“, said Schermann. The Automotive Service Bus is based on the OSGi (OPen Service Gateway Initiative) software platform. It is written in Java which makes it possible to run the system under all standard operating systems from Apple’s MacOS to Linux or Windows. The hardware is a PandaBoard – an SBC based on a Texas Instruments chipset. For the touchscreen, the scientists used an Apple iPad. The central control unit is an ECU from partner company IAV.

Visio.M was funded in part by the German federal ministry for education and research (BMBF).

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