Computer software that provides services to software applications beyond those available from the operating system, are referred to as middleware. Elektrobit Automotive GmbH is one such provider of middleware solutions and Auto Tech Review recently caught up with Gregor Zink, CFO, Elektrobit Automotive GmbH (Above), and Satish Sundaresan, Head, Elektrobit India (Below) to understand the role played by middleware, development activities, solutions for current mobility requirements and future trends.
Elektrobit has been in business for around 30 years, and has been conducting operations in India for the past two-and-half years. Acquired by Continental three years back, it caters to segments such as connected mobility, automated driving, next-generation user experience and vehicle infrastructure. The company provides cyber security solutions and related risks, as well as threat assessment of connected mobility. Elektrobit offers tools to develop semi to fully autonomous vehicles, from Level 1 to Level 5.
Within user experience, the company offers a range of solutions that help the vehicle seamlessly interact with the driver and passengers, including multi-modal displays and the way they interact with the vehicle occupants. It also enables integration of current assistant tools like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, for the purpose of plug-and-play of all these devices.
Within vehicle infrastructure, Elektrobit, along with one other global company, are the top software stack provider for AUTOSAR that is predominantly used in Europe. Sundaresan said Elektrobit will become the first company to provide software stacks for Adaptive AUTOSAR, which is the next generation vehicular infrastructure upgrade. The solution provided for Adaptive AUTOSAR will be a server-oriented architecture, just as business is carried out in the Information Technology (IT) arena, he explained.
Elektrobit, through its parent company Continental, acquired Israeli start-up Argus Cyber Security in late 2017 for the specific reason that connected cars can become a target of attack, said Zink. There is a need for a complete end-to-end security solution, which is not limited to the connected car alone and there is increasing possibility of cyber-attacks due to the vehicle being connected to the occupants’ mobile devices, or even to the cloud services of the OEM in the back end, he noted. Thus, the software must offer the highest level of security that protects the entire value chain involved in the connected vehicle network, and is free from being hacked, Zink added.
Sundaresan said from a connectivity perspective, end-users get an opportunity to bring their own mobile device that can get connected and integrated to the vehicle. Elektrobit’s solutions offer a platform where one can bring in mobile devices, and once connected, it carries out the duty to ensure the said connection is secure at all times, he explained. There is a need to ensure privacy of not just the vehicle owner, but also the OEM and Elektrobit has the solutions to provide customers with the overall security solutions for connected vehicles, which would also provide the ability to track vulnerabilities, Sundaresan noted.
On developing next-generation user experience, Elektrobit offers a software product for its customers. The goal of this software product for an OEM is to use it as a development tool for quick model-based framework to plug-and-play how a user interface should look like, explained Sundaresan. This product could be used by Tier I suppliers to develop different user experiences for many different customers. Elektrobit’s focus is on the middleware area of products that covers software alone and which is hardware agnostic.
Sundaresan said all development work of Elektrobit’s products and services are carried out of India. India also happens to be the company’s largest R&D centre globally. The software skill and knowledge in India are high and that is the strength Elektrobit is looking to leverage for carrying out development work in the country.
Elektrobit carries out certain projects together with its parent company Continental, one of them being in the area of autonomous driving. Continental develops sensors and cameras for autonomous driving, which need to be combined into a module with other software features, and this is where Elektrobit comes in to complete the solution and offer a package to customers. Continental benefits from the middleware tools and solutions provided by Elektrobit, while the latter can leverage Continental’s wide global customer base.
The most important safety and connectivity features offered in vehicles need middleware for them to be implemented into the system accurately. Such software also provides traceability of the vehicle, which could provide information on the reasons for failure of certain systems, which can then be corrected or used to prove vulnerability. Software standardisation between companies needs to be made mandatory. This is especially important as vehicles of different manufacturers plying across varied conditions need to communicate with each other without the chance of failure, noted Zink.
TEXT: Naveen Arul