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Software Defined Vehicles- A Perspective from Tata Elxsi

Automotive architectures have seen rapid evolution since 2020. Let us examine the factors playing out in this evolution:

  • Traditional functional domains like Body, Chassis, Powertrain, Engine, etc. are seeing a remarkable increase in software (SW). Simple ECUs that were required to control these domains are no longer sufficient. Increased complexity in these domains have led to higher SW compute power requirements.
  • As technology in cars has evolved, we have seen newer domains like AD, advanced ADAS functionalities, V2X, and EV. Each of these domains has significant SW components with minimal sensor and HW. This adds to the overall SW compute requirements from the previous point.
  • Newer domains interacting with each other leads to an exponential increase in integration complexity at both the HW and SW levels. At the HW level, the conventional approach leads to several ECUs and interconnects. At the SW level, the conventional approach leads to real-time interactions at a massive scale.
  • Increase in SW and complexity inevitably leads to potential bugs in production SW. This will mean that SW in production cars will continuously need to be updated. This requires a FOTA/SOTA approach. Legacy architectures would require significant recalls to fix and flash new SW updates.
  • OEMs are tending to move to a subscription model for enabling features. This would mean that a feature can be activated and deactivated, remotely and over the air, upon subscription or cancellation. This cannot be done with a traditional architectural approach. In legacy architectures, automobiles once sold, would not get any feature updates.
  • Emergence of the Cloud as a compute location. Legacy architectures would only focus on realizing features in the embedded computing space of the car. The total compute power on the vehicle is limited to the sum of the ECUs already installed and is almost never shared

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