Bosch is taking further strategic steps toward a leading position in the software-dominated future of mobility. In the future, under the umbrella of its subsidiary ETAS GmbH, the company will develop and sell basic vehicle software, middleware, cloud services, and development tools for universal application. A total of 2,300 experts from different development areas of Bosch and ETAS are to be brought together there as of mid-2022.
Software development is a longstanding core competence at Bosch. Every year, we put more than 200 million control units running our own software into vehicles worldwide. With this new set-up, we want to become the leading provider of application-independent vehicle software.—Dr. Stefan Hartung, chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector of Robert Bosch GmbH
A year ago, Bosch established its Cross-Domain Computing Solutions division for application-specific vehicle software with specific hardware for numerous vehicle areas such as driver assistance and infotainment. Now the company is bringing together its portfolio of application-independent software for vehicles and the cloud at ETAS. The resulting central platform will allow it to develop automotive software more quickly and efficiently together with its partners.
Bosch will combine its universal software platform with expertise in the development of innovative software functions. In the future, ETAS will offer this universal platform and the accompanying development environment to both automotive manufacturers and other suppliers.
Up to now, vehicles have been delivered as a finished product. However, in the future, a car’s software will be continuously improved and expanded throughout its service life. This will give drivers a customized digital driving experience, and also form the basis for new business models for manufacturers.
This development is just beginning. Experts predict that the market for automotive software will be worth billions in the next few years. Bosch expects double-digit annual growth until 2030. The organizational realignment Bosch is now planning for its application-independent automotive software units under the roof of its subsidiary ETAS bears witness to this transformation.
With this move, we are providing existing and new customers with an integrated, horizontal, cross-domain platform that will allow them to achieve the aim of software-defined vehicles.—Christoph Hartung, the chairman of the board of management of ETAS GmbH
The partnership between Bosch and Microsoft that began in February will also be continued in the new organization. This partnership aims to develop a comprehensive software platform for seamless connectivity between cars and the cloud, making it quicker and easier to develop vehicle software throughout the car’s lifetime, as well as to download it to the control units and vehicle computers via the cloud.
Whether for electrically adjusting the seat, recharging the vehicle, deploying the airbag, or listening to the radio, software is already an integral part of almost every function in modern vehicles. It consists of different layers that build on each other. One layer comprises software modules that vehicle manufacturers use to create individual driving experiences—from the powertrain to infotainment and assistance systems. This is where the individual brands differ, sometimes enormously.
Other layers, by contrast, such as the basic software for the control units and what is known as middleware, offer manufacturers almost no scope for USPs ( unique selling points). These software components regulate the basic tasks performed by control units and vehicle computers—tasks that the driver doesn’t notice.
For example, they manage processor performance and memory space, and they determine how control units communicate with each other or with the cloud to exchange data. Once developed, this software can be used on almost any ECU—regardless of where it is installed in the car and regardless of the vehicle model. This setup is familiar from smartphones, where a wide variety of apps use a central operating system.
In the future, open source software and the associated ecosystems will also play an increasingly important role. Vehicle manufacturers and automotive suppliers will thus be able to place software at the center of development even more effectively in the future.
ETAS was founded in 1994 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Robert Bosch GmbH and employs some 1,500 associates in 12 countries. A further 800 Bosch associates will join them in mid-2022. Even today, the two companies are closely and successfully working together. This collaboration will be further intensified in a joint unit. The employee representatives responsible are currently involved in working out the details of the future organization.