With standardisation of hardware across the automotive industry, software is increasingly accounting for controlling vehicle functions today. These functions too are quickly adopting a shorter updation cycle, putting more pressure on OEMs to offer new features. In such a scenario, it becomes critical for software providers to offer flexible solutions. MathWorks is a global major in this area and we got to speak to Wensi Jin, Automotive Industry Manager, MathWorks new innovations and solutions being offered by the company.
One tool offered by MathWorks is Model-Based Design (MBD), which not only helps quicker development but also enables OEMs to reduce costs, a prerogative in the Indian market. In India, however, the amount of embedded software in an average car isn't very high compared to more mature markets, said Jin. The bulk of the software content in a car here comes from engine control, primarily owing to emission norms in place. Lately though, OEMs have started using more of software in order to offer higher value to end consumers. Doing so results in lower cost and quicker updation, further helped by the increasing role of smartphones.
There is also great potential for software to be used in areas such as comfort and connectivity as consumers increasingly demand such features. In a typical premium vehicle, the amount of software can amount to as high as 10 mn lines of source code, reflecting the traditional way of measuring software complexity. This complexity is only increasing every year and high-end cars today have more number of microprocessors and source code lines than a modern plane, said Jin. Beyond the number of lines of source code, companies are now looking at the number of software functions as more of these functions are now communicating with each other.
These complexities are motivating companies to progress towards MBD, which offers multiple benefits. Some of these benefits, sourced from a global study by Altran Technologies have been listed below:
· A new function with high complexity is developed,
· Increase in product quality,
· Shorter development time,
· Cost saving in software development, and
· Reuse of functions in other car lines.
Benefit To Engineers
Engineers are benefitting greatly from the use of MBD and Jin pointed out some of them to us. With product development cycles getting shorter, rapid prototyping is gaining popularity. Development process of any function begins with an engineer envisioning the system and its functions, which are then shared with the supplier and the software engineer. In a traditional method, there would be a detailed document in place but with complexities on the rise and systems interacting with each other, creation of this document is becoming harder.
Using a MBD, the engineer can go to rapid protyping and using modelling and automatic code generation, one can realise the feasibility of a concept before actually passing it over to the supplier. This allows the company to find out flaws a lot earlier, saving time and money. Owing to these benefits, rapid prototyping is becoming a standard across the automotive industry today, said Jin. In India, adoption of this model is on the rise as the number of electronics continues to grow.
Carmakers have traditionally sourced such systems from suppliers, who've been importing it. With more complexities in the picture, they've now realised that the traditional method of communicating via paper is becoming increasingly inefficient as there are more product iterations required herein. Use of this technology in India is presently more popular in the engine control area, given its complexities, added Jin. Going forward, areas such as chassis control will see an increased adoption of MBD as carmakers aim to provide customers with more comfort and convenience, further followed by more vehicle functional areas, concluded Jin.
Text: Arpit Mahendra