German technology major Bosch says that globally cars are changing and evolving, above all as a result of software and electronics. The company estimates that the market for software-intensive electronic systems is expected to grow by some 15 percent annually between now and 2030, and as part of its plans to extend its leading position in this market, it is establishing a new division, Cross-Domain Computing Solutions.
The German major says that from 2021, existing and new customers will receive electronics systems and the requisite software from a single source: a division with roughly 17,000 associates. Dr. Stefan Hartung, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH and chairman of its Mobility Solutions business sector said, “Even now, a vehicle contains some 100 million lines of software code. Only a company with wide-ranging electronics and software expertise will be in a position to shape the future of mobility.”
The move toward ever more sophisticated electronics and ever more software is quickly picking up pace. The result is a considerable increase in the complexity of automotive engineering, for the new division, the goal will be to reduce this complexity through cross-domain software and electronics solutions. In addition, it will aim to get new vehicle functions on the road significantly faster. To achieve this, Bosch has assigned software, electrical, and electronics engineers from the areas of driver assistance, automated driving, car multimedia, powertrain, and body electronics to the new unit.
Hartung added, “Bosch is an automotive electronics pioneer. Moreover, for quite some time now, it has also been a software company. And in the future as well, our new division is predestined to make further progress in the digitalisation of vehicles.”
Software to play crucial role
Bosch estimates that where a car included roughly 10 million lines of software code ten years ago, the software of automated vehicles will include between 300 and 500 million lines of code. To put this in context, just one million lines of software code are the equivalent of nearly 18,000 printed pages.
Harald Kroeger, member of the Bosch board of management in Bosch’s Mobility Solutions business sector said: “Software will play a crucial part in determining a vehicle’s features and feel in the future. It will help make cars ever more intelligent, and provide drivers with a tangible benefit.”
The technology company says it has been developing it software codes in-house for nearly four decades, with a current annual spend of 3 billion euros (Rs 24,801 crore). Traditional software engineering in individual, discrete units is increasingly coming up against its limits. This is why, Bosch says it is pooling its automotive software engineering resources in the new Cross-Domain Computing Solutions division. “Supplying software from a single source is our response to the enormous challenge of making cars ever more digitalised,” added Kroeger. He will also be responsible for the new division, which in the future will develop both the software on which the vehicle computers and control units are based and the software for vehicle functions ranging from park-assist and lane-keeping support systems to music streaming. The result will be the much faster release of new functions, brought to users by software updates. This will allow automakers to offer their customers a coherent, integrated driving experience.
Future proofing vehicles
In addition to cross-domain software development, Bosch says it is also devoting a lot of effort to future-proofing vehicles’ E/E (electrical/electronic) architecture. The company is also making the new division responsible for the development of vehicle computers, control units, and sensors, which will ensure smooth interaction. “The core task of Cross-Domain Computing Solutions will be to make the complexity of electronic systems controllable. In addition, the systems will have to be as reliable as possible,” said Kroeger.
In this respect, Bosch says it is focusing in particular on powerful vehicle computers as the technical basis for the digitalisation of modern vehicles. With more and more functions featuring in every part of the vehicle, these computers combine the tasks of individual control units.
He added, “Today’s premium vehicles feature more than 100 individual control units, and even compact vehicles have between 30 and 50. Such powerful computers will allow us to significantly reduce these numbers.”
And with vehicle computers – for cockpit and connectivity functions, for driver assistance systems, for automated driving, and for the powertrain – now being developed in a cross-domain unit for the first time, the result will be a consistent IT architecture throughout the vehicle. All the electrical and electronic components will thus be perfectly compatible. In addition, Bosch will be able to achieve valuable synergy effects.
With Cross-Domain Computing Solutions, Bosch aims to offer its customers vehicle electronics and software from a single source. “The dynamic shift toward ever more digitalisation in the vehicle will crucially determine the shape of the new division. Our new set-up will allow us to satisfy new requirements – both of the market and our customers – even better.” Added Kroeger.
From the start of 2021, the entire Car Multimedia division and parts of the Powertrain Solutions, Chassis Systems Control, and Automotive Electronics divisions that develop software-intensive, cross-domain electronic systems will be brought together in the new Cross-Domain Computing Solutions division. The new division will employ some 17,000 associates at more than 40 locations in over 20 countries. The employee representatives responsible will be involved in working out the details of the future organisation.
Bosch already pooled all the electronics manufacturing activities of its Mobility Solutions business sector in April this year. The Automotive Electronics division now coordinates the production of control units and vehicle computers across all vehicle domains. In this way, the company is also achieving synergy effects in its manufacturing operations. The new manufacturing network will employ some 24,000 associates across 21 plants in 14 countries.