Autosar: Keeping pace with change

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The second release of the Autosar Adaptive platform came out in October 2017. Steve Rogerson looks at how the architecture is preparing itself for highly automated driving.

When the Autosar partnership was founded in 2003, the big names behind it – such as BMW, Daimler-Chrysler and Volkswagen – could not have imagined what the next fourteen years would have in store. Those years have marked the most revolutionary period the automotive industry has seen with advances in driver assistance that were not even on the drawing board in 2003 and the prospect of truly autonomous vehicles on our roads now no longer a future dream but a real target, the pieces of which are being put together before our eyes.

To handle such a transition, the standards that underlie it must also change. We have seen that happening on the essential functional safety side with ISO 26262, the latest version of which is now nearing completion. And it too is happening with Autosar with the recent publication of release 17-10 of the Adaptive version.

The initial version of Autosar is known as the Classic platform, and it worked but its static approach did not suit the modern dynamic features being brought into vehicles, and so the Adaptive platform was developed, the first release of which came out in March 2017 and the most recent in October 2017. The idea behind the Adaptive platform was that it could support highly automated driving as well as the high-speed communications needed for modern driver assistance systems.

The platform is still under development with two more releases planned – in March and October 2018. Until then, the releases are classed as demonstrator software and thus have had no strict quality assurance and as such should only be used for pilot projects. The plan is that the October 2018 release will no longer contain any draft specifications and will be fully synchronised with the Classic platform, which will hit its 4.4 release at the same time.

The development of the Adaptive platform is an iterative process with new features being added to each release. Version 17-10 – the October 2017 release – integrates concepts with respect to network management, time synchronisation, security, and update and configuration management. There are also newly defined system tests in the release.

The goal is that once completed the Adaptive platform will be a suitable base for highly automated driving, where the driver can temporarily pass control of the vehicle to the vehicle itself, which will be able to communicate with aspects of the road infrastructure, such as traffic lights. This will also involve the vehicle communicating with other computing platforms, including smartphones, and integrating non-Autosar systems.

Security will be key, and release 17-10 brings in features covering authentication and certification, key management, and secure communications. This will be extended in the March 2018 release to cover support for trusted platforms.

The Adaptive platform is being validated using an Autosar internal implementation known as the Adaptive Platform Demonstrator that is available to all partners and can be used as a reference to understanding the platform’s concepts.

For autonomous driving to be a reality on our roads, many of doubters will have to be won over. Having the correct standards in place is an important step in that process and, so far, Autosar is rising to that challenge.

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