Hella KGaA Hueck & Co., a tier one supplier of lighting and electronic equipment for the automotive industry, has partnered with Volkswagen and two other supplier companies to develop a new fully-functional body/comfort electronic control unit (ECU) for future Volkswagen vehicles. During the next year, the partnership will combine the vehicle electronics know-how of VW, Hella, NEC Electronics of Europe and 3SOFT, which is Elektrobit’s automotive software unit, to test the new ECU in a VW Passat limousine to see how it will behave in real-world conditions, while also working on software integration, resource use, quality and cost issues. The ECU will be compatible with AUTOSAR (Automotive Open System Architecture) software. Hella will supply ECU hardware and software applications for the project while acting as the software integrator. NEC Electronics will provide the ECU’s V-850 series microcontroller and 3SOFT will provide the AUTOSAR platform. Volkswagen will then integrate its own vehicle software modules with the ECU. “In the last few years, the need for standardized software has become increasingly important in the automotive industry,” said Dr. Tilmann Seubert, vice president of Hella’s advanced electronics development division. “This need was highlighted by the formation of AUTOSAR, a global partnership of companies in the automotive and vehicular electronics industries that are working to make automotive software applications more modular, scalable, transferable and reusable.” The AUTOSAR partnership was founded in 2003 by major vehicle manufacturers and tier one supplier companies and now consists of more than 100 companies in the automotive, electronics, semiconductor, hardware and software industries. Approximately 650 experts are working on developing AUTOSAR’s standards. The automotive industry recognized some time ago that electronics and software developments would represent 90 percent of all new-vehicle innovations, with the embedded ECU software controlling a variety of mechanical functions. Despite the auto industry’s growing dependence on ECUs, it only partially benefited from the rapid innovations and cost reductions seen in the semiconductor and computer industries due to the growing complexity of vehicles’ networked components. AUTOSAR was created to reduce software development costs for non-competitive vehicle functions; increase interchangeability between supplier, manufacturer and vehicle platform solutions; improve quality, and allow for product modifications, upgrades and updates. Hella, a global supplier, develops and manufactures components and systems for lighting and electronics for the automotive industry, including advanced driver-assistance systems enhancing safety and comfort. In addition, its joint-venture companies produce complete vehicle modules, air-conditioning systems and vehicle-electric systems.