Continental has expanded its tool box for automotive software development: With the future virtual ECU Creator software (vECU Creator), developers at vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and third parties will be able to configure and run virtual cloud- based electronic control units in their specific development environments to help develop code for micro-controller and processor hardware that does not yet exist. The virtual ECU Creator is part of
the Continental Automotive Edge (CAEdge) framework, which runs on Amazon Web Services
(AWS). By using cloud-based vECUs, new applications or software features for software-defined vehicles (SDV) can be built by OEMs faster, more efficiently and in a more agile way. That allows future developments to be tested and debugged continuously by engineers within the cloud, at the same time as hardware development and production cycles. The virtual ECU Creator brings together Continental’s high-performance computers, and Electronic Control Units, with Elektrobit’s production-proven software for Classic and Adaptive AUTOSAR. “A great vehicle relies on both quality hardware and software. Our virtual ECU Creator will make it easy for our software experts to work in parallel, enabling us to create applications for the software-defined vehicle that enhance the driver’s safety and experience,” said Gilles Mabire, CTO at Continental Automotive.
Development from virtual to real
In times when car manufacturers are looking to bring new car models much faster to market and want to continuously provide software updates to customers, traditional hardware-in-the-loop- based development (HiL) and testing of automotive software is slow and limited in scale. Most of the functional, safety and security issues, can only be addressed when the physical ECUs are available. Until now, there were no comprehensive tools for developers at automotive manufacturers and system suppliers to simulate, in the cloud, the performance of digital features and confirm compatibility across existing or new car lines prior to general hardware availability, leading to increased risk prior to launch. According to industry statistics fixing issues in late stages can be 10 times or more expensive.
Bringing together Continental’s proven track record in design and manufacturing of complex automotive systems at scale and Elektrobit’s mass market ready automotive base software and middleware, the virtual ECU Creator marks the next step in future system development in the automotive industry.
Automotive software developers will be able to use the virtual ECU Creator to help decouple hardware and software decisions, simulate digital feature performance on the digital twin of hardware subsystems and continuously release applications that customize and enhance the driver experience. With the virtual ECU Creator, CAEdge users can configure their vECU choosing from a range of virtualized hardware and software for base tooling and simulation, covering typical microcontroller-based ECUs, Zone Controllers or High-Performance Computers.