Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Secret to a Successful Autonomous Vehicle Development Program: A Data-Centric Approach to Autonomous Car Design

Bob Leigh, Director of Market Development at RTI
Romain Saha, Strategic Alliances Manager at BlackBerry

The automotive industry is facing unprecedented changes in the coming decade. With the rise of autonomous and connected cars, software is a significant differentiator in the automotive market. As software takes a central role in the functions and features of the car the investment in software development is accelerating dramatically. Automotive companies must adopt novel software design methodologies to be competitive, as well as ensure safety, security, and a quality user experience. Fortunately, embedded system architecture is also evolving. Fueling this change is the proliferation of “system-of-systems” architectures, where connectivity and accessibility are baseline requirements. This requires interoperability! 
IIoT and Data-Centric Design

The rise of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is driving this need for new architectures to unify the standalone devices of the past. These changes are already happening in other market segments and are fully applicable to automotive. In ever more connected and autonomous cars, many subsystems operate in tandem, but without the benefit of a greater awareness. For example, braking systems have very little interaction with power steering.  As we connect these systems and add layers of automation, the car itself becomes a system-of-systems – where braking and steering coordinate with vision and sensor functions – and every car is then connected to a much larger system. 

These larger connected systems could support fleet management, traffic management, sharing services and other as yet undefined applications.

Such a new design model must provide:
  • Time-sensitive reliable transport, safety and mission-critical rigor in software design;
  • Interoperability between applications, domains, operating systems, and entire heterogeneous systems;
  • Support for high volume communication across multiple domains or compute platforms (sensors, actuators, etc.); and 
  • Code reuse and the evolution of the system as it moves from research to development, on to production and into maintenance lifecycles that span multiple model releases.
Data-centric architectures address all these requirements. A data-centric architecture offers reduced development and maintenance costs when compared to device or application-centric or object-oriented approaches. 

Data centric-architectures support interoperability between teams, application and entire network domains and foster innovation through better access to data. To be data-centric means to put data at the center of any system, which is then self-describing and accurately reflects the real-time state of the system. It abstracts the complexity of operating systems, hardware, and network programming to allow applications to focus on the core value they add to the system. It decouples applications so that they become actors that use or change the state of data but do not explicitly interact with each other. This approach supports the sharing of code and IP (since it does not depend on a specific platform) and has many advantages in scalability, interoperability and maintaining data/state integrity.

Complete Lifecycle Support Platform


The preeminent data-centric middleware standard for real-time systems is DDS (Data Distribution Service). DDS is an open standard maintained by the Object Management Group (OMG). This standard has been developed over decades in highly demanding applications and is in use today in multi-billion dollar product lines worldwide.

DDS offers many features that are critical to any ADAS or Autonomous Drive application. Core to DDS, Quality of Service allows developers to guarantee latency, control data flow and manage network bandwidth. All of these things are achieved within the middleware, so the application only needs to focus on the processing of data, not the delivery.

Interoperability between applications and domains creates a layer of abstraction that allows OEMs to combine systems from different Tier 1s in a way that minimizes complexity and risk. It supports multiple operating systems seamlessly to enable architectural evolution from statically to dynamically configured higher-level operating systems – moving from the idea of domain controllers to compute platforms. It provides a unified infrastructure to connect and control different domains, paving the path to sensor fusion. It supports the high volume of traffic that these architectures will demand.

With DDS, applications, teams of developers, and systems share data using a common data model defined for the entire system. Once defined, all interaction between system actors is understood through this common data model. Code development and application interactions are decoupled, which allows more efficient development and collaboration of large, geographically distributed teams. DDS can support many thousands of applications with hundreds of development teams worldwide. This is the power of data-centric middleware.

Certified Software Stack

For many years DDS has been used in air, land, and sea autonomous system projects. It provides the features needed to support time-critical, dynamic, high volume applications that are key to the next generation ADAS architectures and ultimately to autonomous drive. Using a safety certifiable middleware, such as RTI Connext® DDS Cert, with QNX ISO26262 certified RTOS and ADAS framework, you can begin development with a fully-integrated, certified software stack. The combination allows engineering teams to focus on their core value-add in application development while ensuring system performance, interoperability, security and safety certifiability.

RTI (Real-Time Innovations, Inc.) is the largest DDS vendor and is the only one with a safety certifiable version of its product. RTI Connext® DDS is used in many mission-critical and safety-critical applications and is an essential component of the future Autonomous Car.

Please contact RTI at or QNX at today to learn more about these powerful tools.

QNX Software Systems Limited, subsidiary of BlackBerry is a leading vendor of operating systems, development tools, and professional services for connected embedded systems. Global leaders such as Audi, Cisco, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, and Siemens depend on QNX technology for vehicle infotainment units, network routers, medical devices, industrial automation systems, security and defense systems, and other mission- or life-critical
applications. Founded in 1980, QNX Software Systems Limited is headquartered in Ottawa, Canada.

For more information on Connext DDS in Autonomous Vehicles, please download our whitepaper or register for this upcoming joint webinar with QNX and RTI.

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