The Architecture of Green Cars

Overview Global tech company Aptiv focuses on — among other things — solving mobility’s toughest challenges, including sustainability and driver safety.

Aptiv, the first company in the auto industry to exhibit at CES® more than 20 years ago, continues to make strides in vehicle technology, providing what the company calls an integrated vehicle brain and nervous system.

In the rapid evolution of technology in the vehicle marketplace, Aptiv is showing how vehicle architecture — particularly for self-driving cars — is shifting toward a software-defined, integrated platform.


Too Many Boxes

On the CES Tech Talk podcast, Glen De Vos, SVP, CTO and president at Aptiv, discussed how a majority of today’s cars are embedded architectures, meaning that every function in the car has its own controller. That is, a lift gate has its own controller, as does the HVAC system in the car and the engine management system, and so on with every system in the car that performs a task.

A buildup of control boxes, each developed independently, becomes difficult to manage, change and optimize.

“It’s massively complex,” De Vos said. “It’s very expensive because of the discrete boxes, and it’s static — it never gets better over time.”

Three fundamental changes can shift vehicles to a more future-focused architecture.

Zone separation: By identifying general zones for all the sensors and actuators in the car, vehicle manufacturers can simplify the way data and energy flows through the vehicle.

Centralized computing: Combining compute power into fewer and connected compute boxes allows the server platform to better dynamically allocate resources to zones.

Software abstraction: With zoned controllers connected through a server, software can then be updated over time, across vehicle platforms, and it can be better developed and maintained.

“It’s analogous to what happened with mobile computing,” De Vos said. “[Smartphone content can now] be developed independently of the underlying hardware. And that’s essentially what’s happening with the vehicle.”

As the vehicle industry moves further toward electrification and driverless systems, smart vehicle architecture can help realize the goals of making cars safer, greener and more connected.

Find out more about Aptiv’s 3,400-mile self-driving journey on the full CES Tech Talk podcast episode of “The Future of Self-Driving Vehicles.”

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