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Next-generation E/E Architecture Aims for Central Vehicle Control ECU

In-vehicle systems are becoming more complex and multifunctional in order to meet consumer safety and comfort requirements as well as regulations such as fuel efficiency. The expansion of new areas such as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), autonomous driving (AD), and connectivity and the electrification of various components is complicating the electrical / electronic (E/E) architecture of automobiles. Looking at the conventional E/E architecture, there are an electronic control units (ECUs) for each function which are modularized. Some features are integrated to reduce the number of ECUs. Furthermore, domain controllers that integrate and manage common related fields such as powertrain-related and safety-related have become mainstream. In some vehicle models, the introduction of devices that control different domains collectively with each other has also begun.

Software development companies such as Bosch Engineering and ETAS believe that each domain of next-generation E/E architectures will be physically independent but they will be logically bundled together by the vehicle central control ECU. In addition, these software companies are considering a moving most of the functions to the cloud and simplifying the configuration of the –n-vehicle system.

There are some issues must be addressed to realize next-generation E/E architecture. One of these issues is security management. Even if the security of the ECU itself is strict as before, if any one ECU in the system is contaminated, it will have a negative effect on the whole system. Therefore, another security layer that comprehensively manages the whole system is indispensable.

Another issue is the energy consumption associated with advanced ECU functions. Research has shown that if the power consumption of the in-vehicle network increases by 1 kW, the CO2 emission will increase by 17g/km, so even if the vehicle is a BEV, it will be a considerable amount. As a result, there is a need to develop a mechanism that turns off specific functions when they are not necessary.

The development of the partially-introduced AUTOSAR Adaptive is progressing. However, the old AUTOSTAR and non-AUTOSAR standards are used as well which means that these systems will co-exist for the time being.

Next-generation Electrical / Electronic Architecture:
Moving Toward Centralized Automobile Control to Manage Each Domain Collectively

Reasons for simplifying E/E architecture

・New features such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), autonomous driving (AD), and Connectivity are increasing and many parts are being electrified to provide users with safer, more comfortable and more economical functions. ・Solutions that link different fields (cross-domain), such as linking powertrain and ADAS, are also increasing. ・As a result, the Electrical / Electronic (E/E) architecture of automobiles is becoming more and more complex. ・There is a need for an architecture with simple configuration which is suitable for versatile operation and can flexibly respond to the needs of automobile manufacturers.

Existing E/E architecture

・The existing E/E architectures are decentralized. There are ECUs specialized for each function and they are modular at best. ・Some existing E/E architectures are decentralized, yet integrate some features. This reduces the number of ECUs while maintaining multiple functions. ・Furthermore, in the existing E/E architecture, there is a device (domain controller) that collectively controls functions (domains) of the same type, such as powertrain and ADAS. ・In order to link with powertrain ADAS or predictive powertrain control based on navigation information, the introduction of devices (cross-domain controllers) that mutually control different domains collectively has begun (domain overlap).

Next-generation E/E architecture

・Each domain is physically independent of next-generation E/E architectures. They are logically bundled by the vehicle’s central control ECU. ・And as they evolve, most of the functions move to the cloud, simplifying vehicle control devices. ・However, the processing speed required for the ECU must be faster than that for controlling a single function. As the power consumption per unit increases, energy management issues arise. (Created based on Bosch Engineering’s report presented by Tenny Benckendorff at FKFS Symposium 2019)
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