ECUs Are Too Complicated in Connected Cars

Ever since the introduction of electronics into vehicles it has been normal to fit an additional ECU (Electronic Control Unit) to the vehicle every time a new feature is added. However, with as many as over 100 ECUs fitted per vehicle, this means that current vehicle architectures are becoming too complicated to implement.

The Strategy Analytics report, “Electronics Demand Requires New Approach To Vehicle Architectures”, looks at developments to centralize vehicle architectures with the use of single gateway controllers feeding into several integrated domain controllers and long-term developments using location controllers.
While there is the desire to centralize vehicle architectures, new technologies have only recently made such desires turn into reality, especially from:

  • Open source software protocols.
  • High performance processing chipsets.
  • High bandwidth networking standards.

However, there are many challenges facing auto makers in their quest to develop new architectures. Kevin Mak, Senior Analyst at the Automotive Practice of Strategy Analytics, said, “Auto makers are struggling to generate any profit as it is when trying to comply with fuel economy and emission mandates, as well as competing in active safety systems and developing autonomous driving to fend off disruptive ride-sharing newcomers in the long term. But new architectures are imperative in coping with the increasing electronics load to the vehicle and bring about sensor fusion.”

He added, “Mass market players may not justify new architectures that are only needed on some of their models. Some auto makers lack the software capability needed. Scale and standardization are also lacking. The result is that centralization has been deployed piecemeal in certain areas, such as in the cockpit domain and on autonomous test vehicles. But the promise of centralization has the potential to realize significant reductions in cost and weight, as well as reducing development time and cost for future electronic applications.”

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