By Marques McCammon
In a world constantly hungry for innovation, software is a living thing. No matter which software architecture is in use within a car, it will have to be updatable. The consumer experience is constantly evolving as well. As new apps and mobile capabilities enter the market, new cyberthreats emerge and must be responded to quickly and effectively.
This brings us to the “U” in Wind River’s software strategy ACRUE model, “Update.” As mentioned in my previous posts, the ACRUE model is a strategy designed to help car makers keep pace with consumer demands and upgrade legacy technology without constantly adding more cost, weight, power consumption, and complexity that eats away at profits.
Developers must always be ready to deliver new innovations and updates to consumers as quickly as possible. If OEMs can accelerate their ability to continuously maintain and update the system, then they can combat new threats and also continue to drive new value and new ways to monetize.
Many technology companies address the issue of updating by offering over-the-air (OTA) software updates. Via OTA updates, they can add new applications, refresh the operating system, repair error states, and close doors to cyberthreats. This is difficult in the auto industry because there’s such a mix of critical and non-critical functionality; there are multiple security, safety, and compliance issues; and there is currently no framework that accommodates OTA updates for multiple interrelated services. In In fact, it is for this very reason that many conventional automakers remain hesitant to allow broad, direct use of OTA updates in the field for automotive systems beyond just infotainment.
OTA is only one piece of the solution and broader thinking is required to address the overall challenge. That’s why we advocate looking at the management of the entire software lifecycle, not just the OTA element.
When you consider that the average vehicle is developed for 200,000+ equivalent customer miles, that means there is a primary, secondary, and maybe even a tertiary opportunity for that vehicle to generate value that can be pushed back to the OEM, and also create new value and experiences for the consumer. Consumers may often own their vehicle for up to 10 years; that means that we have an opportunity to re-create the experience of newness in the same vehicle multiple times over.
If we look at software lifecycle management in its entirety, it really begins at ideation. From the moment carmakers start thinking of the new experiences and new value they want to put into the vehicle, they can use digital deployment and start modeling those things in a cloud environment rather than one that is earthbound. They can explore those concepts in prototyped vehicles rather than real vehicles. Then when they move to physical vehicle development, road tests, and fast feedback evaluations, a properly architected system can allow the OEM to iterate design in near real time, saving some the time and expense that is normally associated with conventional fleet management activities. No longer do they have to weight to corral the cars at the end of a road test they can manage the software in real time, even while the vehicle is deployed. This can save time on road testing and development, and keep the development cycle moving more rapidly. It helps OEMs to reduce the overall cost structure, and they can also monitor and maintain that vehicle and its software all the way through the end of life.
At the other extreme, imagine the insights that can come from the potential gathering of data from a vehicle near the end of its life and using it to inform the next series of ideations. This kind of thinking enables automakers to differentiate themselves and add new value moving forward. This could open the doors to new revenue streams from the deployed vehicle base that are more capital efficient than conventional part sales, thus delivering much high profit potential from vehicles that would otherwise offer little revenue opportunity to the OEM. Lastly, and most importantly, the management of the software over time equates to the management of the customer relationship over time. With the ability to continuously enhance the software experience in the vehicle, OEMs can create a deeper and more continuous connection with their customers. This increased customer intimacy can lead to higher long term brand awareness and purchase consideration.
To recap, making systems updateable is much more than just OTA. It is defining your approach to software systems such that the value can be managed over the lifetime of the vehicle. Software lifecycle management offers carmakers huge benefits in four key ways. It provides greater security. It grants OEMs a higher level of efficiency. It gives OEMs transparency into the vehicle and vehicle’s performance. And, it enables OEMs to create new streams of revenue and experiences for the consumer. Quite simply, robust software lifecycle management can enable traditional automotive players to evolve into powerhouse brands of the new technology driven future.