Software-defined vehicle

A software-defined vehicle (SDV) is a vehicle whose functionality and features can be managed or upgraded primarily through software. The hardware and software in an SDV are decoupled, indicating a jump in technology comparable to moving from mobile phones to smartphones.

Automakers will be able to provide remote updates, ongoing improvements, and the ability to introduce new functionalities without requiring physical modifications to the vehicle. The move represents the transformation of automobiles from being predominantly hardware-based products to becoming software-centric electronic devices on wheels.

The Difference

The functionality of traditional vehicles is defined by the hardware components like engines, transmissions, and brake systems. With software-defined vehicles, the emphasis shifts towards the software systems that control and manage various aspects of the vehicle’s operation.

The Hardware

The hardware, the first layer of the vehicle’s architecture, is in the form of a skateboard chassis that houses a powertrain, suspension, breaks, sensors, safety equipment, and other necessary systems. Each of these hardware components is connected to its respective electronic control unit (ECU). The ECUs play a crucial role in the overall operation of the vehicle. They receive input from various sensors and systems, process the data, and execute commands to ensure proper functioning and interaction between different components. Additionally, the hardware also houses the chip on which the embedded operating system (OS) is installed.

The Operating System

The embedded OS—the second layer of architecture—acts as a bridge between the hardware and software layers, facilitating communication and control between them. It controls and communicates directly with the hardware layer, including the electronic control units (ECUs) and other components.

The Modular System

The foundational platform of SDVs often adopts a modular system. Consequently, modules in a SDV can be added or removed to accommodate user preferences and advancements in technology. The modular nature of the platform provides flexibility, scalability, and customisation options to adapt the vehicle’s functionalities as needed.

The Instrumentation and Driver’s Interface

The third layer of the software-defined vehicle architecture is the instrumentation layer, which includes Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Some of the features are automatic emergency braking, blind spot warnings, lane-keeping assistance, collision sensors for airbag deployment, and various levels of autonomous driving capabilities.

The fourth layer in the architecture is the driver interface layer. This layer encompasses the digital cockpit features, including the dashboard, Head-Up Displays (HUDs), voice control systems, and infotainment systems. The layer enables the driver’s interaction with the vehicle’s systems and functions.

The Benefits

The SDVs continuously analyse the data collected from sensors, systems, and components in real time. By doing this, the SDVs can detect wear and tear on specific parts or discover anomalies. As a result, any potential technical issues can now be addressed proactively.

Such predictive maintenance helps to optimise the performance and longevity of the vehicle by ensuring timely repairs, reducing the risk of unexpected breakdowns, minimising downtime, and enhancing on-board safety.

By allowing automakers to continuously enhance the vehicle, they can respond to customer feedback, incorporate advancements in technology, and address emerging needs.

All this ensures that the vehicle remains up-to-date and delivers an improved driving experience throughout its life cycle.

  • connected vehicle
  • smart car