IoT & Embedded Technology Blog

Software Takes the Wheel

by Daniel Mandell | 12/28/2012

While embedded software and connectivity proves to be a massive challenge for automotive manufacturers, it also plays an increasingly vital role in providing a safer, more fuel-efficient, and differentiated user driving experience. Automakers are working closely with software developers and solutions providers to expand and improve upon both under-the-hood and in-vehicle applications. Consumer digitization has hit the automobile, and automotive OEMs must look forward with software in mind.

Embedded software continues to enhance the safety and performance of modern vehicles. The steady, widespread adoption of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), each of which controlled by complex real-time embedded systems, bestows consumers such safety functions as adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, emergency brake assist and more. Also, coinciding with the rapid adoption of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and their inherent increased amount of electronic components, software is steadily becoming a more critical  way to achieve higher fuel economy, lower emissions, and improved performance through powertrain optimization and intelligent engine management. Environmental regulations and volatile oil prices will continue to drive the use of software algorithms in engine control.

In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) systems are redefining the driving experience and simultaneously providing a new landscape for OEM differentiation. A number of automotive manufacturers, including Ford, GM, Toyota, and Nissan, have deployed IVI systems in mid- to high- grade models to capitalize on this rising trend. Automobile Magazine’s ‘2012 Car of the Year’ winner, the Tesla Model S, features a 17-inch touchscreen running a Linux-based OS that integrates navigation, communications, cabin controls and vehicle data while providing Wi-Fi or mobile connectivity. IVI systems today may include such functions as GPS/navigation, mobile phone integration, climate control, social networking, DVD playback and more.

VDC investigated the growing value and rate of change of software in automotive technology in our recently publishedAutomotive/Rail/Transportation report from our research service, Strategic Insights 2012: Embedded Software & Tools Market.

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