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October 2006: The workshop post-proceedings have been published by Springer as LNCS volume 4147 “Automotive Software – Connected Services In Mobile Networks”


Software development for the automotive domain is currently subject to a silent revolution. On the one hand, software has become the enabling technology for almost all safety-critical and comfort functions offered to the customer. 90 % of all innovations in automotive systems are directly or indirectly enabled by software. Today's luxury cars contain up to 80 electronic control units (ECUs) and five different, inter-connected network platforms, over which some 700 software-enabled functions are distributed.

On the other hand, the complexity induced by this large number of functions, their interactions, and their supporting infrastructure has started to become the limiting factor for automotive software development. Adequate management of this complexity is particularly important; the following list highlights three of the corresponding challenges:

  • The dependencies between safety-critical and comfort functions are rapidly increasing; a simple example is the interplay of airbag control and power seat control in the case of an accident. Careful analysis and design of these dependencies are necessary to yield correct software solutions.
  • Advances in wired and wireless networking infrastructure enable interconnection between cars and backend service providers (to call for help in cases of emergency, say), between cars and devices brought into the car by drivers and passengers (such as cell phones, PDAs, and laptops), and even among cars. This dramatically shifts the focus from the development of individual software solutions residing on dedicated ECUs to their distribution and interaction within and beyond car boundaries.
  • The myriad of functions and services offered to the driver and passengers need to be effectively accessible without compromising traffic safety. This requires user interfaces addressing not only ease of use but also priority of information necessary for safe vehicle operation, and choice of interface modality (voice vs. pushing of buttons for menu selection, say) for reasons of adequacy or user limitations.


These challenges are aggravated by demanding time-to-market requirements, short development cycles, rapid change of technological infrastructures, customer demands, and product lines. The silent revolution currently underway in the automotive domain thus consists of a shift of focus from hardware to software infrastructures and from ECUs to software services as the center of concern in the development process. This puts the software architecture for future generation automotive systems in the spotlight as a critical element both for enabling advanced services supporting drivers and passengers, and for managing the complexity of these functions amidst the high safety demands they are subject to.