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  • Writer's pictureNATALIA SOUSA

Bosch pools development activities for universal vehicle software in one unit

Bosch has announced thats its fully owned subsidary ETAS GmbH, will develop and sell all of the Bosch Group´s basic vehicle software, middleware, cloud services, and development tools for universal application. A total of 2,300 experts from different development areas of Bosch and ETAS are to be brought together there in mid-2022. “Software development is a longstanding core competence at Bosch. Every year, we put more than 200 million control units running our own software into vehicles worldwide. With this new set-up, we want to become the leading provider of application-independent vehicle software,” says Dr. Stefan Hartung, chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector of Robert Bosch GmbH.

A year ago, Bosch established its Cross-Domain Computing Solutions division, a powerful unit for application-specific vehicle software with specific hardware for numerous vehicle areas such as driver assistance and infotainment. Now the company is bringing together its portfolio of application-independent software for vehicles and the cloud at ETAS. The resulting central platform will allow it to develop automotive software more quickly and efficiently with its partners. “Our universal software foundation is essential for the digitalization of modern, software-defined vehicles,” Stefan Hartung says. Bosch will combine its universal software platform with expertise in developing innovative software functions. “Thereby we are creating a USP and a significant competitive advantage for Bosch,” says Dr. Markus Heyn, member of the Bosch board of management of Bosch. In the future, ETAS will offer this universal platform and the accompanying development environment to both automotive manufacturers and other suppliers.

Software gaining in prominence for automakers

Up to now, the rule was that vehicles were delivered as a finished product. In the future, though, a car’s software will be continuously improved and expanded – throughout its service life. This will give drivers a customized digital driving experience and form the basis for new business models for manufacturers. This development is just beginning. Experts predict that the market for automotive software will be worth billions in the next few years. Bosch expects double-digit annual growth until 2030. The organizational realignment Bosch is now planning for its application-independent automotive software units under the roof of its subsidiary ETAS bears witness to this transformation. “In the future development of vehicle operating systems, we want to position ourselves even better in the global market,” says Heyn. “With this move, we are providing existing and new customers with an integrated, horizontal, cross-domain platform that will allow them to achieve the aim of software-defined vehicles,” adds Christoph Hartung, the chairman of the board of management of ETAS GmbH. The partnership between Bosch and Microsoft that began in February will also be continued in the new organization. This partnership aims to develop a comprehensive software platform for seamless connectivity between cars and the cloud, making it quicker and easier to develop vehicle software throughout the car’s lifetime and download it to the control units and vehicle computers via the cloud.

Whether for electrically adjusting the seat, recharging the vehicle, deploying the airbag, or listening to the radio – software is already an integral part of almost every function in modern vehicles. It consists of different layers that build on each other. One layer comprises software modules that vehicle manufacturers use to create individual driving experiences – from the powertrain to infotainment and assistance systems. This is where the individual brands differ, sometimes enormously. Other layers, by contrast, such as the basic software for the control units and what is known as middleware, offer manufacturers almost no scope for USPs. These software components regulate the basic tasks that control units and vehicle computers perform – tasks that the driver doesn’t notice. For example, they manage processor performance and memory space, determining how control units communicate with each other or with the cloud to exchange data. Once developed, this software can be used on almost any ECU – regardless of where it is installed in the car and regardless of the vehicle model. This setup is familiar from smartphones, where a wide variety of apps use a central operating system. “Our new set-up will allow us to satisfy new requirements – both of the market and our customers – even better. Together with our partners, we are enabling existing and new customers to take a completely new approach to automotive software development,” Christoph Hartung says. Open source software and the associated ecosystems will also play an increasingly important role in the future. Vehicle manufacturers and automotive suppliers will thus be able to place software at the center of development even more effectively in the future.

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