The evolution, challenges and future of AutoSAR

Problems with legacy methods in Automotive Industry

A few decades back, automotive applications were developed in a monolithic way. The developer used a sensor, microcontroller and RTOS, and an application was put together. This made the application tightly bound to the hardware as well as to the RTOS that was used. Maintenance and change were enormous challenges with such a legacy code. The application was thus tightly coupled with the underlying system and not developed with change in mind.

A lot of development and testing effort goes into an application before it can be considered fit for vehicle production. When the same system has to be reused for a different vehicle or changed for a new model of the same automotive, it could create problems. The software would need a change from the lowest layer to the uppermost layer of the application requiring a lot of development and testing effort for even a tiny change. This was a complicated task needing time as well as effort. If the same application were to go into more vehicle models, each model’s development and testing effort would be massive.

To overcome these problems, the automotive industry players such as BMW, Continental AG, Daimler-Benz, Robert Bosch GmbH, and Siemens VDO co-developed AutoSAR. It’s an open industry-standard architecture for electrical and electronic devices in an automobile. It is standardized as well as open automotive software architecture.


What is AutoSAR, and where is it used?

AutoSAR (Automotive Open Source Architecture) is a standard for making the software components of a vehicle ECU. It is used in modern vehicles and is aimed at standardizing software architecture for the automotive industry. As the standardization of code increases and software components become more complex, the need for utilizing standard code is increasing. Therefore, the purpose of AutoSAR is to simplify the development life cycle and lower costs by streamlining the process of developing software for embedded devices using standardized components. Furthermore, with the growing complexity of modern vehicles, AutoSAR aims to simplify, standardize and abstract common ECU logic to reduce software development time and cost.

We have two types of AutoSAR architectures.

  1. Classic AutoSAR – The Classic Platform is AUTOSAR’s solution for embedded systems with hard real-time and safety constraints.
  2. Adaptive AutoSAR – The Adaptive Platform is AUTOSAR’s solution for high-performance computing ECUs to build safety-related systems for use cases such as highly automated and autonomous driving.

AUTomotive Open System ARchitecture (AUTOSAR) is a joint venture between automotive interested parties founded in 2003. This body of automotive players creates and establishes an open and standardized software architecture for automotive electronic control units (ECUs). With a sea-change in the automotive software ecosystem, the software now requires frequent updates. Additionally, there is a need for flexibility and computing prowess that has never been felt before. And the Classic AutoSAR platform is not designed for this. So Adaptive AutoSAR was introduced later.


A Comparison Between Classic and Adaptive AUTOSAR

Classic AutoSAR Adaptive AutoSAR
First release in 2004 First release in 2018
Proprietary: Supports only AutoSAR Proprietary: Supports Vector and Electrobit Products
It runs on OSEK based Operating System It runs on POSIX 51 based Operating System
The Software Executes from ROM Memory The Software Executes from RAM Memory
It works on signal based communication like CAN, LIN & FlexRay. It works on service based communication like Ethernet.
Applications are written in C Language Applications are written in C++ language
It supports Safety up to ASIL D It supports Safety up to ASIL B
It will be used in sensor and actuator interfacing It will be used in ADAS, AI, Machine Learning (For complex ECU Development)

The most prominent change that Adaptive AutoSAR has on a vehicle architecture is the application of Ethernet all across the communication network. The adaptive ECUs communicate over the Ethernet, while the Classic ECUs communicate over vehicle BUS networks like CAN or LIN.


Classic AutoSAR Architecture


Adaptive AutoSAR Architecture



Automotive requires the most flexible and scalable software because its requirements continuously update to add new features. To put it simply, Adaptive AutoSAR is a new standard that includes unique needs and resources, as mentioned earlier. And it does this by being flexible and leveraging high-performance computing.

Adaptive and Classic AutoSAR are complementary and, hence, can co-exist. Their features are equally relevant to the automotive industry. Classic AutoSAR specializes in functional ECUs where software is deeply embedded, and Adaptive AutoSAR is more futuristic by virtue of which it can help execute autonomous driving as a functionality. There are predictions that a time may come when Adaptive AutoSAR may be used as THE platform for ECU software development, but we’ll have to wait and watch.

AutoSAR extends the existing methodology into a standard approach for both the Classic and the Adaptive platforms. With flexible gateways, automotive engineers can only think of joining these worlds and making the most of them.

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