Modern vehicles are increasingly becoming sophisticated computers on wheels, with consumers interacting with a car as they interact with a mobile phone: they rely on live traffic navigation, stream music, and use other apps. Therefore, car manufacturers must be prepared to innovate and compete on a new level: software, connectivity and so on.
My part in this, as a software architect at Continental, is to build the foundation for these kinds of solutions. As a business owner Vehicle Networking & Information, I am working on the development and integration of software functions into the In Car Application Server (ICAS) project for Volkswagen. ICAS has been a lighthouse project for us at Continental as it sets the course for our future projects.
Our goal with ICAS is to provide VW with a software-hardware platform that will let them offer a unique, digital experience to their customers. ICAS is at the heart of the new Volkswagen ID.3, the first model of the all-electric I.D. series, which stands for a significant step towards cleaner, greener mobility.
To give you a better idea of our project, it makes sense to look at the “old” world of cars: the low-memory automotive world. In traditional automotive systems, we usually find bespoke custom software platforms, which are very lightweight compared to today's standards. From 2005 to 2014, the standard was 6MB data storage and 500 KB RAM.
At Continental, we are working on the “new” world of cars. Today, next gen, state-of-the-art computing platforms are gradually replacing the Electronic Control Units (ECU) functions in a car. They come with significant computing power, storage, high data transfer capabilities, multiprocessor chips with 64-128 GiB memory, 4GiB RAM etc. These platforms enable Continental to (i) offer car functions that are computationally intensive, (ii) consolidate multiple car functions to one high computing node to save cost, and (iii) provide efficient networking capabilities.
To harmonize these two worlds – on the one hand, the low-memory automotive world and on the other hand the web technology world with high data rates, high storage, and high availability – we need a powerful computing platform. We use Adaptive AUTOSAR (AUTomotive Open System ARchitecture) and operating systems like Linux, for example, for our purposes.
I have been at Continental for four years, working on this project right from the start since 2016. My motivation behind joining Continental was to work on state-of-the-art technologies. And that's exactly what I have been doing here. One of the challenges of my job was that I had to "unlearn" many of the concepts that I had previously learned and perfected over a decade and "relearn" them as applicable to High-Performance Computing. But this is what makes my job so interesting! We never stop learning. All of our colleagues bring a wealth of professional experience to their job and we support each other. Moreover, the support both from the Continental Executive Board and the ICAS Project Management is superb. I am looking forward to continuing working on the project and the transformation of the automotive world!
This article was written by our employee.