The industry has recently seen huge shifts not only
in the type of features and services that are offered, but also
in how software is developed and delivered.
I saw the proliferation of automatic code generation tools, and
over time I came to see a lot of benefits from it (even for folks
like me that had a heavy
software background). The code generation packages from
Matlab and Simulink are great for a number of things - you can
simulate your models and put them through
a suite of tests long before you have any hardware ready. Not only
that, but you can simulate whole physical systems WITH the code that
is generated from your models. And all of this can be easily
automated for instant regression testing.
Automotive software development has also come under increased regulatory
scrutiny - everything gets a functional safety assessment and must
follow ISO 26262 guidance on risk management. Any product sold in the
developed world will have to go through some kind of risk-based
evaluation - and automotive software and electronics are no different.
In addition to functional safety,
suppliers are under pressure from OEMs to follow some
type of process driven development model (usually CMMI
or ASPICE). Both models add
overhead, but having been in organizations that use both I think
they're worth it if they are managed reasonably.
As fas as delivering the software goes, my first experience was with
flashing over a CAN bus (via CCP, either straight to the ECU or
through the OBD port), but in recent years I've seen
remote over-the-air (OTA) upgrades become more common -
and not just for
the center console / display ECUs. This has additional costs regarding
the security of your system and the extra hardware, but it also
enables the vehicle to stay
up-to-date on software upgrades over time, including both bugfixes
and safety / security patches. It's also an additional sales vector -
features that your customer didn't select when purchasing the vehicle
may be sold to them at a later date, and they don't even have to
bring the car into the dealership.
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