IBM is addressing two aspects of the auto industry’s design challenges at its 2010 SAE World Congress booth. One thrust includes tools that focus on the big picture in automotive development, providing software that helps engineers better understand the product life cycle of vehicles. The other emphasis focuses on design, offering AUTOSAR compatibility and auto-code generation.
The higher level tools, which include the Rational Software Platform for Automotive Systems, tackle issues ranging from conceptual design to prognostics. The big-picture approach has become more important as the industry moves away from its controlled vertical development hierarchy.
“The current way of working in isolation no longer works; collaboration is getting more and more important. We connect all groups in the supply chain—OEMs and Tier 1, Tier 2 suppliers—to help them build a smarter planet,” said Hans Windpassinger, Worldwide Automotive Industry Specialist for IBM Rational Software. Smarter Planet is a corporate-wide IBM slogan.
Today’s vehicles are extremely complex combinations of mechanical and electronic equipment, with large systems that are comprised of a number of smaller systems. These “systems of systems” are driven by software, underscoring the need to take a broad view and consider how decisions made during the conceptual stage impact all areas until end of life.
“With software and both mechanical and electrical systems, you need to build the whole car with a number of product life-cycle considerations. Designs have become a spider web that is more complex than anything dreamed of before,” said Dominic Tavassoli, Go-to-Market Program Director for IBM Rational Software.
Designers creating these individual systems need better tools so they can do more in less time. IBM Rational Rhapsody provides a visual development environment for systems engineers and software developers creating real-time or embedded systems and software.
It was updated late last year to address the industry’s popular new middleware standard, providing an AUTOSAR model-driven development solution. The latest version closes the gap between development and quality assurance by sharing and managing requirements and test information, automating systems development by enabling the definition of application software for AUTOSAR.
That will help engineers when they work in all three domains, since they can design one system that will work in any environment that has AUTOSAR interfaces. Standards are gaining success because vehicle complexity is soaring.
“There’s incredible change in the auto industry now in terms of both opportunity and challenges,” Tavassoli said. “There’s significant change in instrumentation, interconnections, and intelligence.”
Instrumentation includes the many sensors that collect information, while interconnectivity includes booming technologies such as telematics. Intelligence is now being extended to plan repairs so cars don’t break down unexpectedly. All these functions need to be added with quality that’s higher than the levels of simpler vehicles.