ProjectFRESTA - apps in vehicles

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FRESTA - apps in vehicles

What will the cars talk about when they start communicating with each other? Volvo and SICS have launched a collaboration project to open the computer systems of cars for the market of apps. Apps provided by third parties can make the trip safer, more efficient and a lot more fun. Each vehicle will provide information that can be used by other vehicles and their drivers: It may concern the state of the road, traffic jams, fastest route, exact time of arrival, sudden stops etc.

Today, the computer systems of vehicles are completely closed for services from external suppliers. The project, started by SICS and Volvo, will make it possible to add new services to the vehicle’s computer systems without compromising their security and robustness. The systems will not be closed anymore, but rather platforms for innovations in software. This will open an entirely new market for apps – this time for vehicles and traffic. New innovative companies will start developing apps, just like they did when third parties were allowed to create services for smart phones.

SICS will not develop the actual apps but the project leader Jakob Axelsson has a few ideas:

– Apart from the most given services, such as better trip planning for the private car driver, it is easy to see benefits for commercial traffic as well. There is for instance a lot of money in lean production. Also, you can keep track of what has occurred during the trip, has the ride been rough, has the temperature been steady etc.

Volvo sees a great potential for their construction equipment:

– The machines will be able to work in coordination, so that the hauler no longer has to wait for the loader, says Peter Wallin at Volvo Construction Equipment. Thanks to some simple apps! This can lead to great cost reductions and better security at for instance road constructions.

The new apps will not only communicate with the driver but also with the computers that control the different systems in the car, for instance the engine, transmission, or airbag. If the system has noted a stop in the traffic, the car will automatically adjust the speed to avoid a sudden halt. 

The mechanism, developed by SICS, will make it easy for the car manufacturer to choose exactly which parts of the car’s system that can be influenced by the apps, and which should never be touched.

– To add new software to these systems requires an entirely new level of security and robustness, compared to the system of a cellphone, says Jakob Axelsson. The great challenge here is to be able to add functionality without affecting the safety of the function of the car.

The cooperation between Volvo and SICS benefits from the fact that three of the researchers at SICS have in-depth experience of the automotive business. Moreover the project fits well with SICS’s current initiatives in Sustainable Mobility and Internet of Things.

Volvo and SICS are here forerunners in a development which will affect the entire vehicle and transportation business. The new OS standard AutoSAR, which the business has agreed on recently, will open for apps in all vehicles in the future. Notable is that the services do not have to be built in from the start, but can be downloaded as they appear on the market.

The project is funded by VINNOVA, Volvo Cars and AB Volvo. The system is expected to be ready for demonstration in real cars at the end of 2014.