Code-powered cars: A new era of software-defined vehicles

software-defined vehicles(SDVs)

In an era marked by rapid technological advancements, software-defined vehicles have emerged as a central theme reshaping the automotive landscape. The global software-defined vehicles market size is estimated to be around USD 210.88 billion by 2032. The convergence of software and automotive engineering is revolutionizing how vehicles are designed, operated, and experienced.

Software-defined vehicles(SDVs) leverage cutting-edge technologies to transform automobiles into dynamic, upgradable platforms that can adapt and evolve over time. This paradigm shift is not only changing the way vehicles are manufactured but is also redefining consumer expectations, enabling personalized driving experiences, and ushering in an exciting time for mobility.

Delving into the groundbreaking realm of software-defined vehicles(SDVs), here’s an insightful conversation between Brandy Goolsby, the Director of Strategic Alliances and Solutions Development at Wind River, and Siddharth Jaiswal, Practice Head – Automotive. Read on as they unravel the intricate world of software-defined vehicles and explore their profound impact on mobility.


Siddharth Jaiswal: So before we start off, why don’t you give us a quick introduction about yourself, your journey in the automotive industry, and a bit about your role at Wind River?

Brandy Goolsby: I would love to do that and first, welcome to everyone who’s joining us today. I’m dialing in from Dallas, Texas. When I think about introducing myself in my journey within the automotive space, it’s been a 14-year journey having direct automotive experience but I also have 6 1/2 years working directly for a software technology firm, Wind River.  I would describe myself as an explorer of the art of the possible. Really identifying new approaches and pathways to create value and desired outcomes for our business customers.

I am delighted to be here having this conversation with you Sid to share what I’ve learned along our journey, our collective journey in this industry as we all move towards software-defined vehicles. What I love about this time that we’re in right now is that we’re witnessing the transformation of the traditional automotive operating model and how the industry is embracing and welcoming change across the product, the process, and the culture to accelerate the future of the software-defined vehicle and reimagine the driving experience.

Within my role at Wind River, that’s effectively what I do. I am thinking through new approaches and pathways to create that value that can enhance our acceleration in software-defined vehicles(SDVs) and then also reimagine that driver experience.


Siddharth Jaiswal: Great. That’s really fascinating. And yes, truly software-defined vehicles are going to be a revolutionary permit for the auto ecosystem. And before we jump deep into the finer aspects of this very revolutionizing concept, why don’t you just give us an outline on what exactly is software-defined vehicles? Why is it important? What are the building blocks for it and how it has become so essential for the auto industry to define the future of mobility?

Brandy Goolsby: Yeah, I would love to. As you stated, right, we are now in the era of software-defined everything and the value that’s going to be created for the end user of the marketplace products is going to be software-defined, and that’s across all markets.

And automotive is no different. It’s literally identifying, I would say attacking ways and approaches to enable this level of software-defined approaches to support the consumer expectation. You mentioned in your opening that SDV may be a buzz phrase, but it is worth being buzzed about. This is the most significant transformation in over 100 years. Moving from software enabled to software-defined is a drastic shift from where we were just a few years ago.

Software-defined vehicles (SDVs), when you think about it, by definition refers to vehicles that rely on software for their functionality, control, and communication. SDVs are designed to be flexible, upgradeable, and adaptable to changing requirements, experiences, and expectations.

This means that SDVs can extend the value in life of the vehicle across all of its systems, from chassis, infotainment, propulsion, safety, and electrical systems, and how companies make the decision to modernize will be foundational to that in-vehicle architecture, the vehicle-to-cloud developer tools, how they derive value and how they monetize that value from their end users.

The race for digital is on and the accelerated innovation cycles of the consumer electronics industry and Tesla have reset the expectation of the automotive consumer. Tesla’s introduction of a dynamic vehicle that kept pace with consumers’ needs proved to be a radical evolution from the rigid, fixed, and static state of the art of the past, which is where we’re moving from, as we move into software-defined vehicles.


Siddharth Jaiswal: You’re absolutely right and I couldn’t agree more to where industry experts call SDV as the model team movement of our time. And this is going to be truly disruptive and with disruption comes a lot of change. And with that comes a lot of challenges.

So how do you think the various stakeholders, especially given the auto industry, is kind of a legacy and kind of a manufacturing-driven approach? How do you think stakeholders will embrace this disruption and what challenges lie ahead?

Brandy Goolsby: Now, given this structural change that the industry is going through, there will be challenges, and stakeholders will face them in different ways and take on different approaches to how they resolve the challenges that they face and automakers, they must transform not just the vehicle they make, but also how they make the vehicle.

So there’s going to be some internal restructuring as I mentioned around how the product is made, but also the processes of what it takes to deliver that product to the market. The problem we are looking at now is how the operating model must change. How do we accelerate the development life cycle, improve the effectiveness of the code that will be created and how do we test it when defects are found in the field we have to deploy a fix.

So integrating all of this type of capability together for onboard and offboard software life lifecycle management, how are we going to do it? To meet the demands of the software-defined era, the industry will require a comprehensive software lifecycle management architecture that brings together traditionally siloed teams and capabilities internal and with the ecosystem. This will allow companies to be as capable as Tesla and redraw the organizational boundaries to eliminate barriers to implementation and execution.

This is an entirely different architecture of how the vehicle is built. This is not your traditional ice internal combustion engine development exercise. This is a whole new framework and what you see around this disruption is people trying to identify what is the optimal and most efficient way to address this problem that they have to tackle and emit as they move towards the software-defined future.

As we adjust the architecture to utilize that software, we have to do it in such a way that we optimize what the software can do and what it can deliver to the consumer. The key success factor is to embrace a new approach to development. This involves enabling developers with the necessary tools to develop the full technology stack across all the layers, from hardware, software, middleware and applications. This is not optional anymore. If we want to keep pace with the consumer experience because this is what customers want.


Siddharth Jaiswal: That’s quite interesting. And as an extension to this, if you look at various OEMs, how they are reacting to these phenomena of SDV, they essentially have to become software companies. Now a big decision lies in front of them is, what amount of software do I do in-house? What amount should I look at the ecosystem for, if at all? 

If at all I’m going to do something in-house then what are the capabilities I need to have? What kind of operating model, structure, and people? So there are so many unknowns and a very big decision lies in front of the industry, especially the OEMs, and what kind of software will be developed in-house and what kind of software should rely on the ecosystem. Any thoughts on this? How is this going to shape up?

Brandy Goolsby: Absolutely. The main challenge, just like you articulated, is striking a balance between internal scope and external collaborations, and what this will do or enable is the management of the competitive environment. Collaborating with suppliers and technology providers in the external ecosystem community can be a boost for the OEMs in offering access to events you know, components, and in software and systems.

These collaborations bring what I would call that specialized expertise, innovative ideas, things that the OEM’s may or may not be thinking about, but they bring a level of insight and ingenuity that will be necessary in order to move things forward and to and to be an active participant in this space. So having that collaboration, that partnership with these types of ecosystem stakeholders will allow for a fresh approach to integrating software and hardware, improving automation not only in development activity and how we bring data insights back from the consumer into the development process but also how a vehicle is manufactured, right?

So we have to think about this full spectrum of activity that could potentially get enhanced and where you may need to go outside of the organizational four walls to really look at ways in which you can collaborate with others to enhance your own effectiveness and efficiency throughout the full development activity from concept to market deployment and really thinking about also you know, I talk about the full scope from process and product, but really thinking about those flexible architectures and systems so that you can think about how do you bring in different ecosystem players in a seamless way that’s not a complete tear up or disruption to what you’re creating as you offer new services and enhancements to features and functionalities to your consumers.

I just want to add one more thing to that point. As you think about this level of insight and in-fresh-eyes approach to development, there’s also this other activity that’s happening where you have multiple alliances That we do talk about, but we don’t talk enough about. Alliances like SDV, Eclipse, Cobisa, Sophie, these types of alliances that were formed to help support the acceleration of software-defined vehicles right, from tooling to virtualization, to really looking at open sources and open approaches, open standards to unlock ways of how the OEM’s can be flexible and adaptable as they think about the software-defined vehicle, the plumbing where there’s activity around nine differentiating features and then where their actual value-add is and focusing in on that.

So, the industry is going to need, I would say, alliances, community activity like Cobisa to support, you know, open-source approaches. But then there is also going to be a need for proprietary solutions as well at different levels throughout the technology set and throughout the development process.


Siddharth Jaiswal: Right and that’s quite interesting and the keywords being collaboration and open source which go hand in hand and that brings me to the aspect of automotive being or the wider mobility being a very safety-critical application for the end user. 

So how, as and when, we move towards more open source, more collaboration, comes a lot of risk. How do you think the industry will kind of hedge the risk or make it more safe, be it cyber threat, be it accountability, be it ownership? So how do you think this will span out as we slowly move towards SDV?

Brandy Goolsby:  Yeah, to mitigate risk, it’s a multi-faceted approach to not only development but ongoing ways in which you’re going to have to work with the product and its interfaces to the external world. To ensure that the security and safety of software is essential to use, what I would call a structured approach during development.

This involves analyzing the architecture design from start to finish, end-to-end analysis of the architecture design, which includes considering every entry point, every exit point, trust boundaries, known threats to the components. This includes approaches that are widely known in the IT space but then also is beginning to be formulated in apply to the vehicle product itself, which includes threat modeling, risk assessment, secure code practices, code reviews, regular security testing throughout the development lifecycle, and of course there’s adherence to relevant industry standards and regulations such as ISO 26262 for functional safety.

And then you also have ISO 21434 for cyber security. These standards provide the necessary guidelines and requirements for managing the safety and security throughout the development process, but also how that product will interface with the processes that’s developing it as well and the interfaces to the external world. So making sure that you keep it secure and safe for the consumer and as it continues to, you know, evolve over its life cycle.


Siddharth Jaiswal: Understood. And that’s quite fascinating when a lot of best practices from the IT industry is kind of making its way into operating models of automotive, right? And so in this regard, as an extension to this, how do you think the operating model, when it comes to SDV will evolve? Will it be a collaboration based on licensing model? Or will it be a one-time fixed cost model? So what is the best operating model when it comes to SDV?

Brandy Goolsby: For SDV, most of the automotive industry has historically been hardware-centric. As we move from a hardware-centric view of the world and how business arrangements, supplier customer arrangements were established, that is evolving. How the business gets structured with software vendors and mobility vendors is now being reimagined and re-thought about because we’ve had these hardware-centric business arrangements in place for 100 plus years and now that we’re making this significant pivot to software, we have to think about subscription models, perpetual licenses, even bespoke models around how a fleet of vehicles get certain software features and functionality. So it’s not a fixed approach to the business model.

I think what we’re gonna see is an evolution of this, and we’re going to see a varied approach to the software and how it takes shape within the industry. Whether that’s through development licenses and production licenses, and if those production licenses are subscription based versus perpetual versus some type of bespoke type of approach to that business arrangement around maintenance and support and how software updates and security patches get deployed to that vehicle.

I think this is gonna be one of those evolving business arrangements over time because the automotive industry is recognizing that the traditional hardware-centric approach isn’t the right formula. The software tech industry, as they move into the space, they’re learning the language of the automotive community, and they’re trying to identify a happy medium of how the licensing arrangement should work. Is it an upfront lump sum payment? Is it a subscription? Is it, you know, fixed? How do we establish the ways of working and the value that’s being created for the consumer and what the revenue generated from that service, that application will look like as we move forward?

So to answer your question directly, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to the licensing arrangement that will most likely take place. I think we’re going to see an evolution of varied types of approaches to how software will be licensed and how revenue will be generated within the vehicle.


Siddharth Jaiswal: That sounds great. So moving on to my next question, could you elaborate a bit on the end consumer and what is their openness towards SDVship from the conventional ownership, where people are used to buying a vehicle that would last for the lifetime but with SDV coming in, the engagement is going to be throughout the lifecycle of the vehicle. So how do you think the end consumer is going to react and how open are they to this SDV concept? 

Brandy Goolsby: Great question. Overall, I believe the end consumers are open to the promise of what software-defined vehicles hold. I think when you think about where we are in terms of the state of mind of the end consumer, their expectation is set for rapid delivery of contextual personalization of that vehicle experience.

That expectation is exactly where we are today. But then also as you think about where we’re headed with the delivery of the software-defined vehicle and the linchpin of all of this, especially the SDV architecture and the framework, is the data. So that being the linchpin, it’s going to unlock the valuable insights about the driver behavior, the predictive maintenance, the product usage. And all of this opens up the opportunity for innovative features and services that will pleasantly surprise the consumers.

But with everything, even with today’s vehicles as we launch new vehicles and they have all these you know various features and services that come with it, we have to educate the end consumer so that they fully understand and grasp the benefits and the functionalities that will be allowed as a result of us moving towards a more dynamic vehicle scenario with software-defined vehicles. I think as that education piece continues to be put in place through industry stakeholders like you know like ourselves, like technology providers, that openness to SDV will increase and enhance and I think the adoption and acceptance of it, there will be a level of comfort as we move towards that space.

But like I said, data is the linchpin of it and I think the consumer, once they understand the full benefits, I think any hesitations they have will be eroded because they now have clarity and awareness about what the benefits are and how the data is being used to actually support them in their lives, you know, being more convenient, just more enhanced overall through this experience.


Siddharth Jaiswal: That’s quite interesting and it will be very interesting on how the consumers will adapt and the valid point of – it is the industry stakeholders’ responsibility to educate and bring in that adoption and acceptance. It’s quite interesting. Now moving to the other end of the spectrum, we’ve already seen the supply side towards (software-defined vehicle) SDV is quite active and of late a lot of collaboration partnerships are taking place to enable the SDV concept. Now if you could elaborate on how Wind River along with Aptiv is going to approach the SDV opportunity? 

Brandy Goolsby: Absolutely, I would love to. Wind River as a whole has a 40-plus-year history in the development, deployment, operation, and servicing of mission-critical systems that can’t fail. So we understand the specific industry requirements around safety, security, reliability, and certification. We bring this expertise to automotive to enable and accelerate that development of the software-defined vehicle (SDV).

When we talk about solutions, we talk about solutions like our hypervisor which is set up for hardware virtualization so that you can have multiple instances of the OS on one substrate in one computer platform to enable different features and services. We also have our operating systems. We have Wind River Linux and we also have our real-time operating system VX works and both of which could support a mixed-criticality environment. Allowing for this safety-critical activity or mixed-criticality activity, you can run real-time operating systems and non-safety critical systems all on the same substrate, the same hypervisor platform and all of this can be updated and connected to the cloud.

With that, as we’ve made a pivot, as you’ve looked at this digital transformation, we partnered with our parent company Aptive, we are introducing what we call an industry-first cloud-native dev OPS platform which we call Studio and this is designed for building software. This platform empowers the automotive developer to accelerate and manage software development through the vehicle’s life cycle. This includes everything from designing and developing the software to verifying, deploying and continuously upgrading and updating that software throughout the vehicle life cycle while using the vehicle-generated data to accelerate data-driven decisions to deliver new and personalized experience.

All in all, the end result is this, you have a full end-to-end system that the industry can adapt to enable auto developers to build a software-defined vehicle(SDV) and manage software throughout the vehicle’s life cycle.


Siddharth Jaiswal: That’s great. And I think it is going to be critical to have as much collaboration and partnerships to make (software-defined vehicle) SDV a reality as we move ahead. Speaking of which, in your opinion, if you could highlight what the future of mobility would be in the next couple of years, so let’s say 10 years, any thoughts on how do you see mobility involved? 

Brandy Goolsby: Absolutely. I’m actually thrilled and excited that you asked that question because I’m literally just ecstatic and optimistic about what the future holds for the auto industry and where we will go as we move forward. You know, the industry just historically has been incredibly important and I see the future as one that basically includes continued collaboration as you highlighted in your previous question to me, and the data itself, and all of these three elements, innovation, collaboration, and data will drive what the future looks like for mobility, for automotive.

And pulling in that vehicle telemetry information and analyzing it in real-time will enable that whole delivery of new services and features over the life of the vehicle. All of this will unlock ways to make our lives better and more efficient from managing our everyday congested roads that we have to travel to and from our various destinations to actually making in-vehicle payments convenient through the vehicle dashboard for pick up orders after a day at the office on your way home.

The opportunities and the value that’s created not only for direct automotive stakeholders but adjacent industries is endless. So I’m excited to see what the future holds.

Brandy Goolsby

Brandy Goolsby

Director of Strategic Alliances & Solution Development, Wind River

Brandy Goolsby is the Director of Strategic Alliances & Solution Development at Wind River, a global provider of mission critical software systems. Holding a Master's degree in electrical engineering, Brandy's expertise lies in driving the development and deployment of intelligent systems across industries. In her role at Wind River, she orchestrates key partnerships, driving innovative collaborations to expand market reach, while implementing strategic growth initiatives.

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