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Adaptive software architecture for E-vehicles rectifies problems on its own

05.09.2013 - (idw) Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

To have the flexibility to compensate for errors in electric vehicles, researchers are working as part of the EU-sponsored SafeAdapt project to develop a new automotive software architecture. The aim is to allow developers to design software so that the system will autonomously compensate when problems arise during operation. This adaptive system is based on the AUTOSAR automo-tive standard and supports validation in line with ISO 26262. In parallel Fraun-hofer ESK is leading the consortium in its efforts to come up with a develop-ment method that will permit immediate implementation of the new architec-ture. The project is slated to run until mid-2016. To boost vehicle energy efficiency, mechanical functions are being increasingly replaced by electronics, so-called X-by-Wire systems. Because this increasingly impacts safety-critical operations, these functions are safeguarded by relying on multiple redundancy, which again increases costs and energy consumption. With this in mind, Fraunhofer ESK joined forces with AWEFLEX, CEA LIST, Delphi Deutschland, Duracar, Fico Mirrors, Tecnalia, Pininfarina, Siemens and TTTech to develop an adaptive vehicle software architecture. This architecture allows developers to already take into account the safety requirements when modeling the software.

SafeAdapt software architecture and development method

SafeAdapt replaces the hardware redundancy strategy with software. This eliminates the need for additional electronic control units (ECU), thus reducing the overall weight of the vehicle. At the same time, the concept supports the reuse of ISO-compliant software components so that developers can seamlessly deploy individual components in other types of vehicles. The system also features generic fault and failure-management, which relieves the developer of an additional burden. Because the architecture is based on AUTOSAR, it easily works with existing automotive systems.

To make SafeAdapt immediately implementable, the associated development method is being created in parallel with the software architecture. Developers will be able to use the method to define the adaptivity of the software meaning the capability to compensate for failures during operation as early as the design phase. In addition, early abstraction supports planning of the vehicle architecture.

Simplifying validation of vehicle functions

To ensure that safety-critical functions such as the brakes and powertrain operate flaw-lessly, the ISO 26262 standard is used. This standard defines what must be checked in order to validate critical functions. This is a tedious process that accompanies the de-velopment of the actual functions. With SafeAdapt, developers will only be required to define the degree of variability of their functions, which the architecture then imple-ments the necessary failure handling mechanisms.

More robust vehicles through adaptivity

Adaptivity is a paradigm that reduces susceptibility to failures while the vehicle is oper-ating. Developers currently have to anticipate all future driving situations and write these into the vehicle software code. This is a significant effort that limits flexibility with respect to new situations and software, such as upgrading a navigation system. With SafeAdapt, developers only define the degree of adaptivity, not each possible scenario.

Current software architectures do not provide adequate support for this approach, which is why it has not been implemented to date. SafeAdapt reliably integrates this approach into the software architectures of future vehicles.

Adaptivity makes it possible to reduce hardware redundancy since the system is not forced to use cold- or hot standby ECUs when one had failed. Instead, adaptivity can be used to implement a sophisticated graceful degradation within a given set of fault-free computing resources. An exemplary means could be, that an underutilized ECU is instructed to execute the software. This requires taking into account which parameters are necessary to executea function on a hardware platform during the development.

Help for the developer with early abstraction

An additional feature of SafeAdapt is early abstraction. It allows the developer to de-termine as early as the development phase if a function can be validated with software redundancy. If this is not possible, such as when a particular function is especially memory intensive, hardware redundancy must then be incorporated. If discovered early in the development process, this gives vehicle systems developers enough time to react, making costly subsequent modifications unnecessary.

To illustrate that the concepts are more than just theoretical, the partners plan to inte-grate software functions developed with SafeAdapt in a prototype vehicle that is scheduled to be ready at the conclusion of the project in 2016. Weitere Informationen: Anhang
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