AUTOSAR (AUTomotive Open System Architecture) is an international community of car manufacturers, automotive components suppliers, semiconductor companies and software suppliers who have joined forces to define a modular software architecture that decouples software applications from the underlying hardware. The focus is on reusability of individual functionalities by way of encapsulation.
Preliminary discussions about common goals were initiated in 2002 by BMW, Bosch, Continental, DaimlerChrysler and VW. A formal partnership was set up in 2003, with other major companies joining the project.
While the AUTOSAR partnership initially featured mainly German companies, the members' list today reads like a who's who of the global automotive industry. Besides car manufacturers and traditional automotive components suppliers, the list also includes semiconductor companies, software houses and service providers.
Today, the AUTOSAR consortium comprises 137 partner companies divided into four groups.
The nine Core Partners and 54 Premium Members, divided into working groups, operate together to develop the standard and define the specifications. The Core Partners also take responsibility for all matters relating to organization and management.
There are further 68 Associate Members and 6 Development Members who through their membership have acquired the right to use AUTOSAR and who have access to all documents as they are released.
The growing number of members reflects the broad acceptance of the standard in the automotive world " it is one of the great strengths of AUTOSAR.
The automotive sector has recognized that a radical rethink has become necessary to handle the dramatically increased complexity of modern vehicle architectures. This challenge can be met by developing and standardizing an open system architecture in the automotive industry. In order to achieve as high a market acceptance as possible, defining a worldwide standard cannot be left to individual companies. What is required is a project model that involves as many market participants as possible in order to reach the common goal of a strong standard. The chosen model enables all the companies involved to bring their specific strengths to bear on the development process so that everybody benefits.
It starts with semiconductor manufacturers who need to provide an appropriate driver layer for their microcontrollers. This driver interface, known as the microcontroller abstraction layer (MCAL), incorporates standardized functions to decouple the hardware from the software. Companies like NEC Electronics, originally pure hardware manufacturers, are facing up to this new challenge.
Figure 1: Allocation of tasks within the AUTOSAR structure
Tooling development puts the spotlight on software houses. Theirs is a special role, because each layer of the AUTOSAR model has some bearing on system configuration.
The actual applications are developed by Tier1 customers in accordance with the whole AUTOSAR design concept separation of application and infrastructure.