A new pact brings us closer to software-defined cars

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In the automotive industry, the introduction of new functionalities has traditionally followed an approach based on the integration of the sensors and associated ECUs necessary for their implementation. This has led to the proliferation of multiple independent systems, leading to increased complexity and cost.

The software-defined car concept contrasts with this vision and aims to introduce distributed software on a limited number of processors, which share sensors and the communication network to enable advanced features such as autonomous driving, powertrain, body control and infotainment. For the transition to the software-defined car to be successful, it is necessary to have a platform that makes available the middleware, a software layer that enables communication between the various distributed components. The middleware must exhibit characteristics of reliability, real-time behavior and reduced latency.

Collaboration between TTTech Auto and ZettaScale

An important step towards the widespread adoption of the software-defined car is the recent collaboration pact signed between TTTech Auto and ZettaScale Technology, which aims to create the first European implementation of an ISO 26262-certified data distribution service (DDS) (ASIL D) for use in production cars. The new product, named MotionWise Cyclone DDS, will provide secure, quality-assured, real-time communication throughout the vehicle, supporting aftermarket software updates to strengthen the vehicle’s lifecycle. DDS is a middleware protocol standardized by the OMG (Object Management Group), providing low latency communication and a set of built-in Quality of Service (QoS) policies.

Through this collaboration, ZettaScale’s open-source Cyclone DDS networking protocol will be combined with TTTech Auto’s MotionWise platform, as well as time-sensitive networking technologies.

From left to right: Friedhelm Pickhard, CGO, TTTech Auto; Georg Kopetz, CEO, TTTech Auto; Angelo Corsaro, CEO, ZettaScale Technologies; Jim Liu, CEO, Adlink Technologies; Stefan Poledna, CTO, TTTech Auto; Harald Triplat, Chief Financial Officer, TTTech Auto (Source: TTTech Auto)

MotionWise is a security software platform designed to automated driving. It can manage different applications, each running in its own environment. This allows you to create a secure environment in which applications with different security and real-time requirements can coexist and interact.

“We provide a software platform that enables application orchestration in automotive architecture beyond ECUs,” said Friedhelm Pickhard, Chief Growth Officer of TTTech Auto. “We need to ensure that each application meets timing, performance, and communication requirements and that this happens deterministically.”

Real-time orchestration, deterministic behavior, and guaranteed latency (regardless of system load) are all key factors that make the MotionWise software platform suitable for challenging applications, such as automated driving. This involves a very strict regime because when the application detects an object, it must be sure to enter a certain time for physical reasons, and the software cannot handle other time-consuming tasks that would otherwise cause the app with unacceptable latency.

MotionWise allows the integration of different applications with different ASIL levels on the same CPU. (Source: MotionWise)

As Pickhard points out, “There are two aspects to consider. First, we need to make sure that the whole application chain works and reacts within a certain time, without being blocked by another application. Second, we need to make sure that if a new application is downloaded, this behavior will be maintained.

This property is very important because it simplifies software testing each time a new application needs to be deployed. To apply a service-oriented architecture (SOA) such as MotionWise to a vehicle, an appropriate communication stack is required. DDS is a technology that meets these requirements, but must be certified for security.

“That’s something we’re doing with ZettaScale,” Pickhard said. “Bringing DDS and our core technology together in one car is a real game-changer for the industry, because then we can enjoy all the benefits without suffering any safety degradation.”

ZettaScale was created as a spin-off from Adlink Technologies to meet demand for its two core technologies, Cyclone DDS and Zenoh, from the automotive and robotics markets. Zenoh is an innovative protocol designed to provide unified and transparent abstractions for data in motion, data at rest (databases, filesystems, etc.) and computations. Capable of over 50 Gbps throughput, Zenoh has a latency of tens of microseconds, has a minimum wire overhead of 5 bytes, and can run on different types of hardware architectures, from a multi-core processor to a tiny microcontroller. .

“Real-time behavior is not necessarily a matter of time scales; it’s also about real determinism and making sure you have a schedule that you always stick to, because if you miss a deadline in a car, you know something bad can happen,” said Angelo Corsaro, CEO from ZettaScale Technology.

According to Corsaro, the automotive industry is adopting DDS because other markets, such as avionics and military vehicles, have already done so successfully, achieving a high level of modularity, reconfigurability and seamless integration of the world in real time.

“In DDS, one of the things our users really appreciate is dynamic discovery,” Corsaro said. “This is an essential feature for systems where you may have a partial failure, or you want to add items on the fly and expand capabilities. It’s something you can’t certify and isn’t necessary on the most critical part of the system, but it’s a game-changer during development and for the less critical part of the system.

Users can take advantage of this dynamic aspect in the non-security-critical part of the system. If you need to test software for a distributed system and you don’t have dynamic discovery, you’ll need to configure all of the communication endpoints, which is a tedious and error-prone activity. However, if you had dynamic discovery, you could run the same system with one node, 10 nodes, 50 nodes or more. There is no need to change anything in the configuration, as the nodes are discovered automatically.

“One of the simplifications we’re bringing, compared to other technologies, is that DDS supports QoS by design,” Corsaro said. “By describing the quality of service through a set of QoS policies, DDS captures and expresses the main non-functional properties and gives the system great flexibility.”

Although an SOA architecture allows dynamic configuration of a system, this is contrary to security requirements. Because your resources are limited, you need to ensure that your safety-critical applications take priority and run on time and in the order you set.

“We are trying on the one hand to make life easier for the designer by providing the dynamic configuration mechanism, and on the other hand we are making sure with MotionWise that applications that are safety-relevant behave deterministically,” said Pickhard. .

It is a paradigm of SOA, which on the one hand makes life easier for engineers by reducing complexity, and on the other ensures security and determinism.

“The next step is to capture the market with DDS, making it a high-performance security platform for SOA architectures in a car,” added Pickhard.