A car is not an iPhone on wheels, even though the car of the future will probably mean the same thing to most users in terms of features and functions as their smartphones do today.
There can be no compromise on safety in a car. If any new or long-established automaker does not incorporate the safety aspect into the original design of the software-defined vehicle, this project will fail.
The iPhone has only been around for 15 years, but in that time it has fundamentally changed the way we communicate and consume media.
A similar transformation has begun in the automotive industry. The software-defined vehicle and its functions will form a strong, perhaps lifelong bond.
But while no life depends on the iPhone's software features, safety is critical in a car. A car's long life cycle and software functions that must work reliably under demanding conditions such as storms, snow and ice set it apart.
An uncoordinated patchwork of vehicle safety features can lead to system failures and extremely costly software architecture rework - or worse, injure or kill people.
That's why the automotive industry must think about safety from the very beginning.
How can the industry balance development speed with safety?
To match the development speed of consumer electronics such as smartphones, the automotive industry must first catch up with the development practices of consumer electronics. That means we have to stop thinking of software cycles in terms of months or even years.
Manufacturers, suppliers, software companies and chip makers must be able to coordinate software functions flexibly: automated and on a daily basis.
Short feedback loops between the entire development value chain, from the automotive manufacturer to the Tier “N” supplier, are the prerequisite for shortening time-to-market with high quality.
Continuous development and integration, as well as validation, are key to achieving this.
This kind of software development process, called Continuous X, is the most efficient way to track errors in the complex interaction in which companies of the new automotive ecosystem collaborate.
Performance without safety does not help
The automotive industry is very complex, therefore, organizing continuous development into a unified, efficient overall process will help manage this.
Safety design methods and practices within the Continuous X process ensure functional safety. This lays the foundation for efficient development of high-performance systems for safety applications in a multi-tiers environment.
A series-proven software platform can serve as a strong foundation for the software-defined vehicle. This type of operating system ensures that hardware is abstracted from software, that increasing system complexity becomes manageable, and that software functions are connected via standardized APIs - and are functionally safe. These are properties that are prerequisites for a Continuous X-driven development approach.
Cost-efficient and safe
An iPhone does not break or freeze often, but when it does, you do not want your life to depend on it. Continuous development and safety-critical engineering are the way to build the next generation of vehicles.
This will significantly reduce costly failures and get Level 4 driving functions on the road faster – without compromising on safety. The end-consumer will appreciate this. Because after all, a car is more than an iPhone on wheels.