Making software-defined cars tangible

Expert Talks: Horst Willburger, Director Electronic Controls Design House at TTTech Auto

TTTech Auto specializes not only in safe software platforms, but also in electronics and hardware solutions to make highly automated software-defined vehicles a reality.

What does the automotive industry need to succeed and how can we as experts in safe system design and development contribute to this goal? Read our new interview with Horst Willburger, Director Electronic Controls Design House at TTTech Auto.

 

The automotive industry is moving at high speed towards technologically improved, more sustainable solutions for a better world of mobility. What does the market need today to set the stage for future growth?

Speaking of change: The automotive industry is facing significant technological upheaval at architectural, hardware and software levels. The long-awaited shift from traditional signal-based networks such as CAN or LIN to Ethernet is currently accelerating.  Centralized computing platforms are replacing the multitude of distributed control units. As a result, the complexity of a wiring harness for cars is greatly reduced.

What the market needs today are series-proven solutions that offer safety guarantees. At TTTech Auto we are well equipped to support our customers on their way to new E/E architectures. MotionWise, our safe vehicle software platform, combined with Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) capabilities, provide the determinism of services required to run functionally safe applications.

 

Can you tell us more about the Electronic Controls Design House and its goals as a department? How do we support our customers on the path to new E/E architectures?

I mentioned the fundamental change in technology. Of course, that brings uncertainties. Many technical properties of the coming E/E architectures are not yet foreseeable or specifiable. Our goal is to support our customers in this situation as best we can.

The Electronic Controls Design House provides leading expertise in all relevant technologies – from networking to robust data center electronics – to develop outstanding technical solutions.  It also offers flexible engagement models to meet the required agility.

 

How do we meet the market’s requirements, what is our offering in this regard?

Our engineering services help build prototypes that are used for proof-of-concept studies or, along with the detailed specification we create, serve as initial development stages, usually to the end of the B-Sample phase, and are later industrialized by a traditional Tier-1. An example of a design specification being handed over to a Tier-1 is Audi’s central driver assistance controller (zFAS), for which we created the initial hardware designs. An example of a proof-of-concept project is a high-performance platform for autonomous driving (AD) with a total power consumption of more than 1.5 kW, which was fully integrated into a newly developed car. By collecting miles with a fleet of cars, customers were able to test AD applications in the real-world environment and gain a better understanding of their behavior in real life conditions.

For small to medium volumes, we offer classic Tier 1 services such as development, industrialization, production, logistics and maintenance of the entire product life cycle. Being fabless, we have a long history of working with large manufacturing service providers which have good purchasing conditions and are reliably supplied by semiconductor manufacturers even in difficult times.

Another collaboration model that is becoming increasingly important is based on the idea of separating engineering services from manufacturing and logistics services. We have successfully supported this approach in the past and are currently working on a compelling package that minimizes the risks and maximizes the benefits for the customer.

In addition, we also have a considerable portfolio of off-the-shelf ECUs that offer new technologies such as network-centric control units for new market entrants that demand very small volumes or niche vehicles.

All hardware services and products are topped by software development, be it base software, driver development, or even model-based application development. As TTTech Auto is largely a software company, we have a significant pool of experts who can provide expertise in software development to our customers.

 

Software-defined vehicles have been the focus of every automotive analysis lately. It would be interesting to know what kind of hardware-related in-house services we provide to support software-oriented vehicle development?

Software-defined vehicles become a reality when all the underlying hardware – the ECUs and all the networking – supports mixed-critical processing. And we cover every aspect: from safe software platforms to innovative hardware solutions and deterministic communication technologies, we enable our customers to follow this evolutionary path safely and successfully. We support them in architectural considerations for L4 autonomous driving by bringing in-depth technical understanding of modern technologies, such as TSN, PCIe, and DDS.

 

Functional safety is undoubtedly a top priority in the development of modern automotive solutions. What safety standards do we guarantee our customers?

Functional safety is in our DNA, our heritage from industries such as aerospace, where real-time guarantees are mandatory to ensure operational safety under all conditions. Autonomous driving platforms must maintain their operations even in the event of failures. We have extensive experience with aspects relevant to fail-operational, such as redundancy, diversity, and fault containment. We also build concepts for the implementation of safe solutions in the cars of the future.

Our engineering services fully comply with ISO 26262, ISO 21434 and Automotive SPICE to meet the highest safety requirements in the automotive industry. In addition, our Safety Consulting team supports in conceptual system design and ensures seamless argumentation of safety cases.

At TTTech Auto, safety comes first. From the early stages of design and development to implementation and maintenance, we deliver solutions that enable our customers to successfully enter the new era of automated, software-defined cars that they can trust and rely on.