Elektrobit Wants to Ramp Up Autonomous Driving with robinos
By Doug Newcomb
Automotive technology is evolving more rapidly than ever. But compared to the overall tech world, innovations still materialize in production vehicles at a snail’s pace since carmakers are impeded by three- to four-year product cycles.
Self-driving technology is also moving more quickly than anyone ever imagined. But on top of being hindered by protracted automotive production cycles, autonomous tech is also slowed by proprietary components and particularly their accompanying software, according to Elektrobit.
“We see automated driving development across many of our customers, and it’s very much a bespoke approach,” said Bjorn Giesler, head of driver assistances for Elektrobit, an automotive software supplier that was acquired by Continental last year. “There’s very little reuse in terms of hardware and software. The reason for that is the software is mainly coupled to sensors and to certain components.”
Elektrobit hopes to solve this problem and speed up autonomous-car technology with its new robinos software platform. Announced today and available starting next month, Elektrobit said robinos is “the first comprehensive, hardware-agnostic software solution enabling carmakers and Tier 1 automotive suppliers to develop and bring to market highly automated driving (HAD) systems.” And much quicker than in the past.
“Right now, if you want to put, say, an automated emergency braking system in a car, you have to buy the radar sensor that also has software integrated with it and specify it to work with other system such as the brakes,” Giesler said. “For the next generation of the system, the OEM might switch to a different radar sensor that’s been improved from a different supplier.” And this means new software also has to be developed, he added.
“We’re taking a look at this problem from a software perspective,” Giesler noted, “and basically putting forward a reference architecture.” Elektrobit robinos is built around a standardized architecture and works with any AUTomotive Open System Architecture (AUTOSAR) basic software.
Elektrobit said that robinos’s “open interfaces make it easy to integrate into existing systems and modules developed by a Tier 1 or carmaker or allow its use as a complete stand-alone solution.” It’s also designed to run on various driver-assistance hardware platforms, and Elektrobit will offer more than 20 different software modules to address various functionalities and allow automakers to “pick and choose the components that map to their needs.”
According to Elektrobit, this integrated and upgradable approach makes it faster, easier and more cost-effective to create prototype systems as well as integrate with embedded applications already in production vehicles. Giesler said that currently OEM and Tier 1s spend up to a year and a half specifying driver assistance systems for production, and then another two years on testing software components and validation. “We can cut development time by two-thirds,” Giesler said, “which dramatically reduces the amount of money spent” by OEMs and Tier 1s.”
Since robinos is an open platform, Elektrobit hopes that it encourages collaboration among others – even competitors – to ramp up the development of autonomous driving technology. “We’re putting we’re this out in the open and inviting others to join the discussion,” Giesler said.
“This will only work if everyone collaborates and everybody uses the same approach,” Giesler added. “It makes it cheaper and faster for everyone, and hopefully gets closer to the kind of development cycles you see in the tech industry, at least when it comes to driver assistance systems and autonomous driving.”