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‘Linux runs the world essentially,’ Elektrobit’s Neukirchner says.

Elektrobit’s New Operating Software Could Be SDV Game Changer for OEMs

The Linux-based software for safety applications is designed to accommodate quick updates without the need for recertification, cutting maintenance time and development costs by up to half, the company says.

Software specialist Elektrobit reveals what could be a game changer, announcing it will offer a new open-source operating system for safety-critical vehicle operations – such as advanced driver-assistance features and full automated driving – beginning in 2026.

Elektrobit’s EB corbus Linux for Safety Applications software promises to cut the time to market in half and take a huge dent out of the cost of maintaining the operating system over its lifetime because it is based on widely employed open-sourced Linux code, meaning there’s a huge existing community constantly developing updates and fixes that can be easily patched into the underlying core software.

Linux runs the world essentially, and we now open up that ecosystem of people, of software functionality, and enable it for use in safety-related applications,” Moritz Neukirchner, senior director of strategic product management, software-defined vehicle, says in detailing the new software package. “We estimate that you will roughly save 50% of the cost over the lifetime of the software, simply because you can participate in the continued community development while still maintaining the certification.

“In the end, it opens you up to all the years of experience that we've seen in the IT industry that we’ve seen in the mobile phone industry,” he adds. “This is an industry-changing thing.”

When a supplier or automaker makes a software change to a safety-critical system, that system must be recertified. Considering the challenges in certifying and recertifying open-source OS under the current safety standard requirements, the holy grail developers have been after is a software setup that would allow OEMs to automate or skip that step.

Creating an open-source operating system that can meet stringent automotive safety standards is seen as critical to the advancement of the software-defined vehicle, but it has proven to be a huge hurdle for developers, including Elektrobit, which says it has been working on such a solution for the past seven years.

“With the SDV, we’ve come to the expectation that the vehicle (will evolve) as quickly as your smartphone,” Neukirchner says. “You always want to stay connected; you always want to have the latest app.

“The problem is, there has been no way to properly utilize Linux in that scope,” he tells WardsAuto.

Elektrobit softare schematic.png

Companies, such as Red Hat, have been trying to certify Linux and have not yet succeeded. Elektrobit’s approach differs in that it is actually putting a layer of software within a hypervisor that sits underneath the Linux code and monitors and enforces safety within the Linux, rather than modifying the Linux layer itself.

“We’ve tried different approaches and we've finally come to a point where we now have a positive technical assessment that has now taken out any new roadblocks to certification,” Neukirchner says. “We suddenly are capable of opening this world up – that world of rapid change – to be used in safety-related applications.

“The most significant advantage is, since we don’t have Linux in the certification path, (we can) incorporate updates at a very fast rate,” he adds, pointing to an average pace of 500 security patches released every year to Linux-based code. “This is really one of the key ingredients. We can bridge that gap between the fast speed of the open-source community and still being able to use (updated code) in a safety-related context.

“This is going to be one of the big, big cost levers.”

The software has been pre-certified to meet ISO 26262 ASIL B and IEC 61508 SIL 2 quality standards and it comes with up to 15 years of maintenance from Elektrobit.

The company, a division of German Tier 1 giant Continental, now will still have to convince automakers of the efficacy of its solution, but there’s already considerable interest from those that have been briefed on the software, the Elektrobit executive says.

“We do see huge, huge interest across the globe,” Neukirchner says. “That really ranges from China to North America, Europe – and also doesn’t differentiate between (electric-vehicle) startups or incumbent OEMs.

“Right now, we are having a lot of engagements with OEMs to show how their safety architectures can be mapped to Linux. The interest is very significant. And of course, now the next goal is to get the first (electronic-control unit) on the streets or in the cars.”

with Maite Bezerra

TAGS: Vehicles
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