AUTOSAR, named for Automotive Open System Architecture, is an initiative for car electronics.
"With AUTOSAR, we are striving for the same general standards as Microsoft has set for PCs with Windows," said Thomas Scharnhorst, head of vehicle electronics at Volkswagen. "Each automaker can then use his own applications for this standard system."
However, vehicle manufacturers are still far from finding a standardized software platform. For example, they are struggling with several different systems to integrate processors, sensors and other electronic components in a vehicle network.
The variety of operating systems also is wide, with OSEK, QNX and Windows CE, to name a few. And several programming architectures exist, such as Java and Open Services Gateway initiative.
In-house developments are expensive and prevent synergy benefits. That is why BMW, Robert Bosch, Continental, DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen founded AUTOSAR.
Twelve European and Asian vehicle manufacturers and 28 suppliers from all over the world, now make up the consortium.
"To be successful standards have to be established on an international basis," said Guenter Reichart, head of BMW's electrics/electronics strategies, system definition and verification department.
The first step is to create open standardized interfaces within the following areas: engine and traction, chassis and suspension, safety, multimedia and telematics, and the human-machine interface.
The idea of having standardized electronics is not new. BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Motorola and Philips founded the FlexRay consortium in 2000. However, FlexRay's data bus system did not catch on.
AUTOSAR may have a better chance.
Toyota and Nissan, which are AUTOSAR members, also founded Japan Automotive Software Platform and Architecture called JASPAR.
Honda, another AUTOSAR member, plans to join JASPAR as well, according to Japanese newspaper reports.