September 26, 2023
Smart Car Coupe

The Revolution of Software-Defined Vehicles: Transforming the Auto Industry

The advent of connected, software-defined vehicles (SDVs) is poised to revolutionize the automotive industry, bringing about significant changes for drivers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and auto suppliers. Just like electric vehicles, this disruptive technology raises questions about the benefits it will offer to drivers and OEMs, its impact on car manufacturing and relationships between OEMs and suppliers, and how it will transform consumer interactions with their vehicles. To shed light on these topics, Automotive News spoke with Robin Milavec, President, Chief Technology Officer, and Chief Strategy Officer at Nexteer Automotive, and Eric Cesa, Vice President Americas at ETAS Inc.

Q: What are the key benefits of software-defined vehicles from your perspective?

Robin Milavec: Connected SDVs will provide consumers with enhanced safety, convenience, and performance, delivering a driving experience that continuously improves over time. For OEMs, the biggest advantage lies in the ability to differentiate their brand’s driving and ownership experience. They can also leverage the software expertise of their supplier partners, such as Nexteer, to overcome challenges in the SDV space.

Eric Cesa: SDVs offer a multitude of benefits that will greatly advance mobility. These include access to the latest safety, security, comfort, and convenience features, over-the-air (OTA) updates, improved vehicle life-cycle management, and vehicle reporting. SDVs aim to fundamentally change the vehicle-ownership experience by enabling continuous enhancements and capabilities throughout the vehicle’s lifetime. This is in stark contrast to the current model where a vehicle’s features are fixed upon purchase.

“SDVs will allow consumers to update their vehicles in much the same way as they update their mobile phones.” – Robin Milavec, Nexteer Automotive

See also  Renault Explores Launching Electric Version of Kwid Hatchback in India's Growing EV Market

Q: What challenges will arise during the integration of near-autonomous vehicles?

Eric Cesa: First and foremost, it’s important to note that near-autonomous vehicles will coexist with autonomous vehicles, as the former relies on the capabilities enabled by software-defined vehicles. However, the reverse is not true. We will see the presence of SDVs regardless of the advancement of autonomous vehicles. As a full-service solutions provider for SDV tools and middleware, we understand the paradigm shift required to make SDVs a reality. Unlike traditional development cycles aligned with model years, SDVs will continually evolve with real-time software updates throughout the vehicle’s lifespan. However, ensuring safety becomes a crucial challenge in the context of SDV updates. Unlike smartphone updates, vehicle updates carry safety implications. It’s imperative to address security concerns and guarantee the integrity of software modifications to ensure safety.

Another significant challenge is the complexity of SDV development. Software development is already intricate, involving multiple entities. SDVs demand near real-time updates, adding another layer of complexity. By consolidating development tool chains into a single source, as ETAS offers, OEMs can achieve the speed, scale, safety, and security necessary for their ambitious vehicle software development goals and the realization of the SDV vision.

Robin Milavec: The development of advanced safety and driver-assist features, along with SDVs, is expanding OEM requirements rapidly. Tier 1 suppliers will continue to play a vital role in contributing to and co-innovating new features with OEMs to bring these software-enabled technologies to market successfully.

As a global motion control expert, we see a significant shift in steering requirements across various vehicle types, from traditional driving to autonomous people movers. This necessitates integrated software and hardware solutions to ensure safety in steering systems across this wide spectrum. To address these challenges, advanced steering systems like Steer-by-Wire (SbW) are being developed. SbW utilizes software, algorithms, electronics, and actuators to control steering, eliminating the need for a mechanical steering