Using existing open-source systems or components in automotive development sounds like an easy way to cost and time-to-market reduction. But, as in all software and systems, there are caveats, not just when it comes to security vulnerabilities, but also for general updates, bug fixes, releases. With recent new regulations like UNECE R 156, mandating long periods of fixes and updates, car makers and suppliers face the challenge of maintaining in-vehicle software for fifteen years. UNECE R 156, also known as the “Global Technical Regulation on Cybersecurity and Software Updates,” requires car manufacturers to maintain in-vehicle software for at least 15 years after the initial sale of the vehicle. Other regulations and guidelines, such as ISO/SAE 21434, also address the importance of cybersecurity and software updates in the automotive industry. These regulations underscore the need for car manufacturers to take a proactive approach to software maintenance and support, and to implement best practices for managing the security and reliability of their systems over the long term. With a multitude of vehicle models or automotive systems in development and production simultaneously, this could and can lead to a significant part of the engineering workforce of an organization spending their efforts on maintenance. It is difficult to predict the exact percentage of workforce required to maintain in-vehicle software over the next 15 years, as it will largely depend on the number of new vehicle models introduced and the complexity of their systems. However, it is safe to say that the demands on the engineering workforce will increase as new models are introduced and older models require ongoing maintenance and support. This will limit the delivery of innovative features to the marketplace, and thus limit an organization’s ability to thrive or continue to thrive on innovation. But still, usage of open-source components is a fact, and a necessity in many highly complex and highly connected systems. This means that the problems need to be identified and tackled by organizations in the automotive realm, and ultimately this includes the basic questions of component selection as well as how to integrate everything into a reliable platform that allows the features and functionalities of tomorrow's cars to run on. In this paper, we will discuss problems and possible solutions associated with open-source components and platforms in the automotive industry.
Dr. Joachim Schlosser, Senior Manager, Elektrobit Automotive