An Interview with Dr. Günter Reichart, the Spokesperson and Initiator of AUTOSAR
To mark the occasion of reaching 300 partners, AUTOSAR's spokesperson and initiator Günter Reichart gave an interview looking back at the first steps and the history of AUTOSAR, describing the current situation and providing an outlook into the exciting and promising future of AUTOSAR.
The origin of AUTOSAR is in Germany – When looking back to that stage: What was the idea behind it?
GR: The concept for an open system architecture emerged in early 2002 at BMW’s electronic division. After several experiences with late announcements of processor changes for ECUs under development, I decided to take a rather radical step forward. The idea was to get rid of the late and risky adaptations of Basic Software for ECUs and reduce a large effort from internal and external resources involved in these adaptations. Hardware changes led to strong dependencies between Software and Hardware in addition to frequent lastminute SW developments that were prone to failure and risked the start of production. The proposal was to move towards open system architectures by creating a Hardware Abstraction Layer, a standardized basic software stack, and a middleware layer with standardized interfaces to the applications. We recognized from the very beginning that this cannot be achieved by one company alone. Thus, we presented our idea to other OEM’s and suppliers and invited them to join our approach in a common effort. AUTOSAR was born.
How did AUTOSAR manage to attract so many partners over the past years?
GR: The key factor was probably that we all shared the same experience with the existing problems and sought solutions to overcome these. The willingness to share one’s own knowledge or patents in the common interest was a prerequisite for success. “Cooperate on standards, compete on implementations” has been our slogan from the beginning. Due to the strong effort of the founders of the AUTOSAR consortium (today’s Core Partners), we arrived early with convincing implementations; and proved that many concerns, like cost increase, or the high complexity of processes were not valid. This early success attracted more and more partners to join and a mainstream had emerged; nothing attracts interest more than success. With the widespread use of the AUTOSAR Classic Platform in the automotive industry, a breakthrough was achieved based on a solid development agreement. This paved the way for the continuation of the new AUTOSAR Adaptive Platform, which addresses the future needs and challenges of the automotive industry. With these two compatible software platforms and the methodological support, a rather unique software framework is now available.
Were there significant peaks and lows? If yes, why?
GR: As with every new idea the usual development curve occurred. Euphoria at the beginning, disillusionment after the first deep dives, realistic evaluation, hard work, and finally success was the outcome of all our efforts. It is exactly what the Austrian artist Andre Heller once formulated: “The idea shrinks to action”. One must go all the way from the idea, through hard work and overcoming difficulties, to the final goal with a willingness to learn continuously and an openness to new ideas and concepts.
When looking back to the beginnings of AUTOSAR: What is the success story behind AUTOSAR, its standards, and the partnerships?
GR: It was the right idea at the right time. Some ideas and concepts had been addressed in research projects before, like ITEA-EAST, but could not find entrance into the serial development. When we founded the AUTOSAR consortium, we could base it on a common understanding of existing problems, on a common willingness to overcome these problems and come together in our partnership to develop new solutions. To share a common vision is a success factor for such a long-term, ambitious endeavor. Another success factor was the rather early provision of first results and AUTOSAR implementations in serial developments. In this way, we could convince many who were skeptical from the beginning. The AUTOSAR Classic Platform is the proven platform for safety-relevant Software up to ASIL-D and the AUTOSAR Adaptive Platform is already on the road after 4 years of standardization since we were able to reuse the processes and legal framework. A third factor was probably a common understanding from all the partners across boundaries of competition or company interests and their continued commitment to the topic.
What was the biggest challenge since the foundation of AUTOSAR in 2003 with regards to the partners?
GR: With the continuous growth of the partnership and its evolution into a worldwide standardization, the continuous adaptation of management and organization became a big challenge. At more than 300 partners, we’ve reached a size of which requires careful consideration over the impact on internal organization as well as management, to assure all ongoing activities are synchronized and new concept proposals can be integrated. Local user groups are well integrated, allowing for consistent communication and presence to take place across all regions of the world. Furthermore, we must always consider the legal implications of such a worldwide effort, for example diverse legal systems, and we have had to find solutions to address issues ranging from copyrights and data protection to sustainability.
What is the status of AUTOSAR around the market (competitors, global partnerships, etc.)?
GR: AUTOSAR is in a rather unique position since it is by far the biggest standardization effort
within the automotive industry. AUTOSAR covers nearly the whole spectrum of vehicle domains
outside of info- and entertainment and continues towards all topics which are important for the
future of the automotive industry and is contributing to a connected, sustainable, and safe mobility
system. Its flexibility to collaborate with other standardization activities like ASAM or ISO sup-
ports its strong market position. The AUTOSAR Classic Platform is field-proven and in worldwide
use, with a vast majority of manufacturers applying the AUTOSAR System Architecture. Addition-
ally, the AUTOSAR Adaptive Platform is being used in many current vehicle developments.
The AUTOSAR standard is a worldwide approach. - Why is this significant and of importance?
GR: With the ever-increasing interconnection of world economies and the continuation of globalization trends, a national standardization activity makes no sense. To adapt systems to different national standards would require huge efforts and would lead to high costs. Borderless technologies become even more important when vehicles become a part of the internet-of-things and play an integrated role in a future mobility system.
Soon AUTOSAR will celebrate its 20th birthday: What is the goal AUTOSAR wants to achieve before 2023?
GR: Our goal is to realize our vision: AUTOSAR will be the globally established standard for software and methodology; enabling scalable E/E system architectures for future intelligent mobility, supporting high levels of dependability, especially safety and security. We want to provide a comprehensive software framework of high quality which would allow us to realize this. Solutions must be shared in the right ecosystem, such as the AUTOSAR development cooperation. If a company does it alone it is one proprietary solution, if it is shared and used by several partners it becomes technology and with broad application, it becomes state of the art and alleviates certification.
What are the areas AUTOSAR plans to expand (in terms of locations as well as the standard itself)?
GR: We are still about to grow and expand to all regions of the world. This will require us to integrate and harmonize all the local activities, e.g., user groups, local meetings, and conferences. To achieve this, we plan to establish a subsidiary which shall take over this coordination and harmonization effort and which will be strictly linked to the consortium activities. We will further expand our collaboration with other complementing standardization activities and will invite partners from the emerging future mobility ecosystem to join.
Which areas will be developed the most? And why?
GR: With the trend towards autonomous driving there will be a strong impact of artificial intelligence-based systems on future vehicle systems. Their safety proof and their integration into the whole E/E-vehicle architecture is something which must be addressed in the future. Moreover, cloud-based applications already required for SAE level 3 automation and the integration of vehicles into the internet-of-things for future mobility systems will bring new technical challenges to our task of standardization. Only certified platforms fulfilling the strong ISO 26262 safety and ISO 21434 security requirements will be trusted by the customers.
Where do you see the potential for AUTOSAR?
GR: AUTOSAR provides the developers in the automotive industry a comprehensive, but also complex software framework. Support in handling all the AUTOSAR specifications, reducing the configuration space to the necessary minimum, provision efficient AUTOSAR software stacks in high quality, effective support of AUTOSAR processes and methodology and the integration of a future E/E-development framework with a set of efficient and compatible tools will become important. Also, the relentless work to improve quality and effectiveness by continuous feedback from practical application will be important. We will and should continue to follow our release strategy to give quality priority over quantity.