Interview with FEV experts

14. May 2016 | Software & Testing Solutions

In addition to other mega-trends such as climate change, globalization, urbanization, and demographic change, the transition to a digital society will not just impact the automotive industry, it will fundamentally reshape it. A significant number of differentiating features in the automotive industry are already being executed using digital technology. This includes technologies for the engine, the powertrain, and the chassis, as well as automated driving functions and vehicle connection.

In SPECTRUM, Dr. Thomas Hülshorst, Vice President Electronics & Electrification, and Dr. Axel Schloßer, Director Software Solutions, explain the challenges in development.

Dr. Hülshorst, what makes integrated systems so important in automotive applications?

As a cross-sectional technology, integrated software systems are a key enabler. Today, modern vehicles already have up to 100 million lines of code in their software, which is seven times more than in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, for instance. Making this scope of software available with a sufficient level of quality is one of the key challenges for the future.

lines of code

How refined are the processes by now and how error-free actually is the currently used software?

Hülshorst: Based on empirical evidence, we have to assume that, per 1,000 lines of code, there are between 0.5 and 20 errors in the software. If you take the aforementioned 100 million lines of code, this means that you have to expect at least 50,000 errors.

Schloßer: This highlights the importance of quality assurance measures – be it through processes, methods, or tools. In the area of automated driving, it is expected that the time and effort for validation increases by a factor of 106 to 107. Accordingly, new approaches also have to be systematically pursued in the area of integrated systems testing. Additionally, the agilization of proven processes in compliance with defined milestones plays a large role.

What tools do you use to respond to these challenges?

Schloßer: At FEV, we have established a dedicated test center for integrated systems for this purpose. It is known within the company as FEST; it makes secure testing operations possible 24 hours a day, even across continents.

Hülshorst: The reason this is so important is that, for connected vehicles, for instance, entirely new partners such as telecommunication companies, network providers, and telematics companies also have to be involved in the end-to-end consideration of the development process. FEST bundles all activities regarding the verification and validation of integrated systems. This promotes the creation and exchange of the knowledge basis and enables us to react very flexibly to even the most diverse project requirements.

It would appear that the key question in development is HOW the software is developed.

Schloßer: Exactly. Over the past few years, we at FEV have systematically built up core skills to respond to this very question. The basis for software development is consistent, modular, and reusable architecture. To ensure this, we have implemented a software development process that is already used in the early stage of function development and is named PERSIST.

Hülshorst: Even at this early phase, the requirements regarding safety and security are taken into account. On this basis and using additional standards, the automation of software development is advanced as much as possible. Here as well, FEV has developed an automated tool chain named ASSIST. Such an automation is not only necessary in light of increasingly complex software, but also because there is already a lack of personnel with the corresponding qualifications. The competition for the best and the brightest will be considerably tougher in the future and can be at least softened a little through the measures we have taken.