Sunday, October 28, 2012

Recall? What recall?

Red Bend demonstrates firmware-over-the-air (FOTA) updates of QNX CAR 2 application platform at Telematics Munich

I think anyone with a passing knowledge of software development in automotive would agree that the infotainment systems currently under development are light years ahead of the systems that shipped only 5 years ago. The blurring of the automotive and the consumer experience is accelerating at an amazing pace. And the processing power being specified for next-gen infotainment aligns with what is expected in advanced smart phones.

It's no surprise, then, that the size of the code base and the complexity of the underlying software is growing at a similar pace. This complexity creates a maintenance challenge. On your phone, upgrades are pushed out regularly in a way that you barely notice: you get a notification of an update, push a couple buttons, and presto, you are up to date. In automotive, if we stick to the traditional methodology, this same type of upgrade would require a recall. You'd have to take your car to the dealership and they would reflash whatever needs to be updated. Expensive for the auto manufacturer and a big pain for the consumer.

Thankfully, people are thinking about this. Companies like Red Bend Software have cut their teeth in the mobile space, specializing in firmware-over-the-air updates, or FOTA for short. They can generate something called a delta file, which effectively encapsulates the difference (or delta) between what is currently on the end device and the new software build. In some cases, the file can be up to 50 times smaller than the new build. They also have the ability to track current load status of all the devices deployed.

So what does that get you? Using FOTA, OEMs will be able to minimize the network bandwidth required for upgrades and to manage the update process remotely, moving us all towards that Zen state of automagic. I don't know about you, but anything that saves me a trip to the dealer is a good thing.

Red Bend will demonstrate this capability by updating versions of the QNX CAR 2 application platform this week at Telematics Munich. So if you happen to be there, do stop to check it out.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Can I get a roadmap? Amen!

I attended SAE Convergence last week, and I've got a couple observations that I'll be blogging about. Here’s the first.

The Panel
On the second day of the show, I attended a very informative OEM panel moderated by Paul Hansen. Paul asked the automakers what their suppliers could do to help them build their infotainment systems. Alan Amici from Fiat said, "I would like suppliers to share their roadmaps," to which the other OEMs nodded in agreement. On the surface, this seems like a rather gentle, generic request. However, I think it's actually a powerful insight that signals a fundamental change in our industry. Mr. Amici took a cue from our former president Theodore Roosevelt, speaking softly but carrying a big stick. Let me elaborate.

The History
If you stepped back in our way-back machine to three years ago or earlier, you'd find a persistent pattern. Every OEM would fully spec every software feature of every module. Which meant that every Tier 1 and software supplier, including QNX Software Systems, would have to jump through hoops trying to cut, fold, and tear their existing software to meet those custom specs. It also meant building tons of new software on top to fill the gaps. The reasoning here is pretty simple — an automaker is building a custom system, so why not build something that reflects exactly what they want? In this environment, we always presented our software roadmap and the OEMs would look politely, but it rarely influenced their designs. Instead, we ended up providing a completely bespoke version of our software stack.

The Change
About two years ago, we started to notice a powerful undercurrent in automotive that bucks this trend. Why the change? OEMs absolutely need to create consumer relevant products, and to reduce the time required to release them. More and more, they need to reuse rather than re-invent. Several OEMs at the forefront of this trend have already been exploring this. How? By working directly with the Tier 1 and suppliers to design the system with an eye towards heavy reuse of existing technologies, instead of trying to design each system from the ground up.

The Apps
This effort to reuse instead of recreate will be necessary not just to reduce the time of delivery, but also to enable any type of cross-brand app experience. Apps that live in app stores require a consistent set of APIs. It’s very hard to do that if every single OEM is busy customizing and recreating every aspect of the system software. The “we’ll design our own” approach will result in fragmentation even worse than that experienced by the Android community. Unconstrained, it carries the threat of creating dozens of independent silos, with no ability to share apps between car makers. It means dilution of the already small automotive volume into even tinier markets — one for each automaker — which doesn’t bode well for anyone building automotive apps. OEMs will need to buck the desire to customize everything if they want to build a thriving app community.

The Punchline
When automakers are focused on their value-add, like HMI designs and custom features, instead of reinventing plumbing, it helps everyone. The OEMs, the tier ones, and the software suppliers benefit from using a consistent platform amongst themselves. So Mr/Ms Carmaker: would you like to see our roadmaps? We'd absolutely love to share them. We’d even like to help build them with you!

This post originally appeared in Andy's True Gryc blog.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Autonomous cars? Suddenly, I’m not so skeptical

Guest post from Emil Dautovic, European automotive business development manager for QNX Software Systems

As a driving enthusiast, I have always felt a bit skeptical about the notion of autonomous cars. The reason is simple: I actually enjoy driving and don’t want someone else to do it for me, in this case the car itself.

Recently, however, my skepticism has begun to soften. I am fascinated, for example, by the SARTRE road train project, where a lead vehicle takes responsibility for a platoon of semi-autonomous cars. Also, recent research from the U.S. Highway Loss Data Institute suggests that, when it comes to some driving tasks, ADAS systems can already put many human drivers to shame.

Autonomous drive will become especially important when today’s “always on” generation starts to buy cars in earnest. They will, no doubt, want to consume multimedia and interact through social media even while on the road, and automakers will need to accommodate them.

HMIs with more (and less) distraction
What would this mean for car makers? Among other things, the infotainment system in a self-driving car could offer an HMI mode that gives the driver more freedom to pay attention to non-driving activities. When the car subsequently needs a human driver (for instance, it becomes disconnected from a road train), the infotainment system could disable these features and immediately go back to a less distracting user interface.

Also, driver assist systems — such as those for detecting animals and pedestrians — would need to be integrated with the road train system to decide how to react when, say, a rabbit runs in front of the car. For instance, should the car brake and warn other cars of the fact, or would it be safer to simply keep driving? It will be interesting to follow this initiative and see how the technical and business aspects evolve, and how, for example, the owner of the lead vehicle will be paid.

For another interesting example of research into autonomous drive, check out the BRAiVE project led by the VisLab team at the University of Parma. The BRAiVE project uses a variety of sensors, with a focus on low-cost alternatives that could realistically integrated into in production cars.

Bells and whistles
So what kind of impact could all this have on a company providing automotive software platforms?

There will, I believe, be an increased demand for a platform that could run all of these applications, enabling the advanced use cases while ensuring that critical functions always have enough processor power. And, of course, the platform will have to be reliable. If this same platform could offer all the bells and whistles available in consumer electronics and demanded by younger drivers, the self-driving future might prove to be a bit closer than we think.

By the way, if you’re unfamiliar with the SARTRE road train project, check out this video:

More about Emil
Emil Dautovic is an automotive business development manager at QNX Software Systems, where he is responsible for the European automotive market. Prior to joining QNX, he worked as a business area manager for The Astonishing Tribe (TAT), where he built TAT's automotive business from scratch and helped transform the company into an important player in the automotive HMI field with leading automotive OEMs and tier ones. He has also worked at AU-System (later Teleca and Obigo), where he served as a consultant on GSM base station development and as a sales representative serving mobile phone OEMs and ODMs worldwide. Emil holds an M.Sc. in Electronic Engineering from Lunds Tekniska Högskola.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Word of the day: Electrification

At this week’s Convergence in Detroit, Mark Reuss, NA president of GM, told a crowd at Tuesday’s keynote, “Hybridization is no longer enough; electrification is the future.”

What struck me most about this statement was the word, electrification; I had yet to hear it in the automotive context. So I did what anyone with a rocket stick would do, I googled it on my way home. The trail led back to GM’s blue paper on sustainable urban mobility, Roadmap to 2030.

For some time now I’ve been thinking about getting an electric or hybrid car but have been bemoaning the lack of choice. Apparently, the fact that a new ground-transportation paradigm requires wide-spread societal alignment hadn’t occurred to me. You just put up a few recharging stations, right?

GM EN-V electric concept car
Source Wikipedia
GM makes eight recommendations in their blue paper, two of which I find to be particularly interesting:

  • Integrate electrically powered, connected vehicles into a multi-modal transport system that incorporates sophisticated inter-city transport, comprehensive subway systems, traditional vehicle movement, and specialized smaller urban vehicles
  • Identify a series of “lighthouse” projects to demonstrate the potential and viability of connected electrically driven vehicles in a controlled environment such as an eco-city or small town

It is nice to see a company taking such a definitive stand and boldly painting a vision for the future; this kind of creative thinking is what we need.

I was surprised to discover the blue paper is from 2010; still if you haven’t already read it, it is worth a look. You can download the paper from the GM web site.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

In-car infotainment and the art of doing more with less

Granted, the title for this blog post doesn't have the pizazz of, say, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." (Are you old enough to even remember that book?) But it does capture the gist of a webinar that Andy Gryc will deliver next week.

His title for the webinar is "Squeezing high-end technologies into low-end infotainment systems." Admittedly, it's more direct than mine. Which is fitting, given that Andy has direct experience designing in-car systems. OnStar, for example.

But I digress. I'm sure you'd like to know what Andy plans to cover, so here's the overview:

    Squeezing high-end technologies into low-end infotainment systems
    Today's infotainment systems have it all – full multimedia, mobile device integration, POI-enabled navigation, speech recognition, high-resolution graphics, and cloud connectivity. The only problem is all of these features come with a big price tag.
    Join Andy Gryc, automotive marketing manager, for this webinar, where he answers the question: Is it possible to build an infotainment system that meets today's customer demands with yesterday's price tag?
    A 50-minute session (plus Q&A), this webinar covers a number of techniques to help slim down your next infotainment's BOM cost; it also suggests ways to target the luxury segment as well as the more cost-conscious, high-volume one with the same basic technology.
    Date: Tuesday October 23, 2012
    Time: 12:00 pm ET
    Duration: 1 hour, including Q&A
    Who should attend: Automotive software engineers and managers

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hanging out with the cool kids at the EcoCAR booth

If you read Jin Xu's post earlier this week, you are already up to speed on the EcoCAR 2 competition established by General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy. If you didn't read it, here's the skinny: To drive home with first prize, university teams must reduce the environmental impact of a 2013 Chevy Malibu without compromising performance, safety, or consumer acceptability. If that sounds hard, it is. Which explains why, out of 150 university teams that applied to compete, only 15 made the grade.

Today, at SAE Convergence, I was lucky enough to meet two of the talented young people participating in this competition: Ahmed Uddin from Wayne State University and Andrew Palmer from Ohio State University. Ahmed and Andrew had just finished delivering remarks at the EcoCAR booth when they stopped to chat with me about their projects.

The EcoCAR 2 Chevy Malibu
The Wayne State team dub themselves the Hybrid Warriors, and they are modifying the Malibu with a parallel-through-the-road PHEV. In a nutshell, the modified Malibu has two power trains, with an electric motor in back and a 2.4L engine in front. By taking this parallel approach, the team has actually upped performance, even though they replaced the stock engine with a power plant that cranks out less power, takes up less room, and puts out fewer emissions. Before these modifications, the car went from 0 to 60 in 9.5 seconds; now it takes only 8.9 seconds.

Meanwhile, the Ohio State team has opted for a series-parallel PHEV that uses an electric motor for the rear axle and a 1.8 L engine for the front. The systems can operate in charge-depleting, charge-sustaining series, and charge-sustaining parallel modes. Personally, I was fascinated by Andrew Palmer's description of the team's infotainment system (redesigning the center stack is an optional component of the EcoCAR 2 competition) and how they aim to make phone connectivity more seamless.

Cooler yet, the team is working on augmented reality, using a BlackBerry PlayBook. Picture this: You hold a PlayBook over the engine of your car, and the screen overlays a transparent view of the engine. The possibilities for this kind of functionality are enormous, and I invite you to check out two blog posts (here and here) from another Andrew — QNX's Andrew Poliak — for examples of how augmented reality could pimp your next ride.

Before you go, remember to follow @QNX_Auto on Twitter, where I will continue to tweet out reports from SAE Convergence.

HTML5 SDK for the QNX CAR 2 platform — the back story

Kerry Johnson
Today, at SAE Convergence, QNX Software Systems announced the new HTML5 SDK for the QNX CAR 2 application platform. I’d like to provide some insight into this announcement, describe what you can expect to find in the SDK, and explain how it builds on the HTML5 capabilities already available in the QNX CAR 2 application platform.

Enabling apps for the car
Almost every consumer who owns a smart phone or tablet is familiar with the app experience: you go to an online marketplace, find apps of interest, and download them onto your device. With the HTML5 SDK, the automotive team at QNX is creating an analogous experience for the car.

Just as Apple, Android, and RIM provide SDKs to help vendors develop apps for their mobile platforms, QNX has created an SDK to help vendors to build apps for the QNX CAR 2 application platform. The closest analogies you will find to our HTML5 SDK are Apache Cordova and PhoneGap, both of which provide tools for creating mobile apps based on HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, and other web technologies.

App developers want to see the largest possible market for their apps. To that end, QNX also announced today that it will participate in the W3C’s Web and Automotive Workshop. The workshop aims to achieve industry alignment on how HTML5 is used in the car and to find common interfaces to reduce platform fragmentation from one automaker to the next. Obviously, app developers would like to see a common auto platform, while automakers want to maintain their differentiation. Thus, we believe the common ground achieved through W3C standardization will be important.

It bears mentioning that, unlike phone and tablet apps, car apps must offer a user experience that takes driver safety into consideration. This is a key issue, but beyond the scope of this post, so I won’t dwell on it here.

So what’s in the SDK, anyway?
As in any SDK, app developers will find tools to build and debug applications, and APIs that provide access the underlying platform. Specifically, the SDK will include:

  • APIs to access vehicle resources, such as climate control, radio, navigation, and media playback
  • APIs to manage the application life cycle: start, stop, show, hide, etc.
  • APIs to discover and launch other applications
  • A packaging tool to combine application code (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) and UI resources (icons, images, etc.) with QNX CAR APIs to create an installable application – a .bar file
  • A emulator for the QNX CAR 2 platform to test HTML5 applications
  • Oh yeah, and documentation and examples

The development and deployment flow looks something like this:

Emulator and debugging environment
The QNX automotive team has extended the Ripple emulator environment to work with the QNX CAR 2 application platform. Ripple is an emulation environment originally designed for BlackBerry smart phones that RIM has open sourced on github.

Using this extended emulator, application developers can test their applications with the correct screen resolution and layout, and watch how their application interacts with the QNX CAR 2 platform APIs. For example, consider an application that controls audio in a car: balance, fade, bass, treble, volume, and so on. The screenshot below shows the QNX CAR 2 screen for controlling these settings in the Ripple emulator.

Using the Ripple emulator to test an audio application. Click to magnify.

In this example, you can use the onscreen controls to adjust volume, bass, treble, fade, and balance; you can also observe the changes to the underlying data values in the right-hand panel. And you can work the other way: by changing the controls on the right, you can observe changes to the on-screen display. The Ripple interface supports many other QNX CAR 2 features; for examples, see the QNX Flickr page.

You can also use the emulator in conjunction with the Web Inspector debugger to do full source-code debugging of your Javascript code.

Creating native services
Anyone who has developed software for the QNX Neutrino OS knows that we offer the QNX Momentics Tool Suite for creating and testing C and C++ applications. With the QNX CAR 2 application platform, this is still the case. Native-level services are built with the QNX Momentics suite, and HTML5 applications are built with our new HTML5 SDK. We've decided to offer the suite and the SDK as separate packages so that app developers who need to work only in the HTML5 domain needn't worry about the QNX Momentics Tool Suite and vice versa. Together, these toolkits allow you to create HTML5 user interface components with underlying native services, where required.

QNX, NVIDIA team up to deliver infotainment solutions

Today, at SAE Convergence, QNX announced that it is working with graphics leader NVIDIA to bring infotainment solutions to the automotive market. As part of this initiative, the companies will integrate support for the NVIDIA Tegra processor into the QNX CAR 2 application platform.

The Tegra system-on-chip is the size of thumbnail, yet it incorporates a quad-core ARM CPU and a GeForce GPU, as well as dedicated audio, video, and image processors.

The NVIDIA Tegra visual
computing module
“QNX Software Systems and NVIDIA have a proven track record of delivering on production programs for Audi... and we’re excited to add support for Tegra to the latest generation of our automotive platform,” said Linda Campbell, QNX director of strategic alliances.

Speaking of Audi, NVIDIA is bringing an Audi A6 to SAE Convergence, equipped with an infotainment system powered by technology from QNX and NVIDIA. The system bristles with high-end features, including 3D navigation with Google Maps and Google Earth, as well as natural voice recognition.

For more information on this announcement, read the press release, and for more information on QNX activities at SAE Convergence, visit our Convergence overview page.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Getting schooled for the future: EcoCAR 2 Year 2 Kicks Off!

Guest post from Jin Xu, global education program manager for QNX Software Systems

Jin Xu
Back in July, my colleague Romain Saha wrote about QNX Software Systems' role in EcoCar 2, a three-year competition established by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and General Motors that challenges university teams to redesign the powertrain of a 2013 Chevy Malibu. To win, teams must reduce the environmental impact of the powertrain without compromising performance, safety, or consumer acceptability — a tall order! Last month, I got to take part in the much-anticipated kickoff to the competition, the Fall Workshop, and learned some interesting things along the way.

Before I delve into the details, allow me to set the stage. Competition to participate in EcoCAR 2 is fierce: out of the 150 universities that applied to compete, only 15 made it through — two of them from Canada. Each year, about 300 students contribute to their respective teams in a range of skillsets, from mechanical and electrical engineering to software development, business management, and community outreach.

Breeding ground
The EcoCAR 2 initiative is part of the DOE's 24-year-old series of advanced vehicle technology competitions, which are a mainstay of the automotive industry and have become a veritable breeding ground for talent. More than 70% of participants will land jobs in the automotive industry and, in a true testament to the competition's "circle of life," many student participants return as organizers and sponsors. The Fall Workshop served as a primer for participants, including training sessions for the donated components and software, including our QNX CAR 2 application platform. Suffice it to say, EcoCAR 2 is a big deal — and we're proud to be a part of it.

Center stack competition
For the first time, competing
teams can create their own

center stack
So what stood out about this year's workshop? For the first time in the competition's history, a reconfigurable center stack is being offered to the competition teams, a nod to how both EcoCar and the larger automotive industry have expanded beyond their mechanical roots. Students have been asked to use Freescale's i.mx6 Sabre ARD board and to choose their preferred software to design the center stack of the future. Each team will have to complete their center stack design by May 2013 to be eligible for the Freescale Innovation Award. A representative from QNX Software Systems will serve as a judge for these awards and will evaluate the designs for look and feel, responsiveness, completeness, and overall innovation.

Center stack platform: The
Freescale i.mx6 Sabre ARD board
On the first day of the workshop, we demonstrated the QNX CAR 2 application platform on the Freescale Sabre board. All 15 teams attended our training session, and we plan to provide them with further training on the platform in early 2013.

EcoCAR comes to SAE Convergence
If you’re in Detroit this week, you’re in luck. EcoCAR will hold remarks in their booth, M15, at SAE Convergence on October 16 from 12:15 to 1 pm ET. The remarks will feature speakers from the DOE and two of the university participants, Ohio State and Wayne State.

I was impressed how just a few days in September could hold so much potential for the future of our industry. It was an honor to take part in the EcoCAR 2 workshop on behalf of QNX Software Systems, and I am excited to see how the students will use the QNX CAR 2 application platform to drive automotive technology forward!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Trend Spotting at SAE Convergence 2012

Guest post from automotive journalist Doug Newcomb

One of the Technical Sessions at the semi-annual SAE Convergence in Detroit on October 16 and 17 is titled Mega Trends and Their Effect on Automotive Electronics. While you’ll have to wait to find out what the participating executives, engineers, and analysts will reveal in the session concerning the rapidly evolving car technology space, here are three areas that are bound to be hot topics at the show.

Driver Distraction
This issue is at the forefront of everyone’s minds — automakers, suppliers, safety advocates, government officials, and consumers — as cars become increasingly connected. In order to help drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel while still accessing the features they want, car companies and suppliers like QNX are developing cutting-edge technologies ranging from intuitive and configurable touchscreen displays to more accurate voice-activation systems that make control easier and less distracting.

Automakers are also being proactive in anticipating distractions: Ford is developing technology that assesses a driver’s workload so that some features can be deactivated in certain situations, and BMW’s pioneering work in “pupilometry” helps determine how drivers visually react when receiving information behind the wheel.

Ford's driver workload estimator (source Ford)

As more automakers integrate portable devices into the dash, drivers are increasingly frustrated by the fragmentation that’s occurring with first-generation systems. Features that are available for one smartphone platform may not be available for another, for example, and incompatibility issues are common. A push for an industry-wide standard has resulted in the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), of which QNX is a member. With MirrorLink, CCC’s industry-wide standard, portable device integration would be more straightforward and seamless for consumers. Getting all parties onboard will take significant effort though, since automakers have traditionally developed proprietary systems. But MirrorLink has substantial support, and the HomeLink system that’s allowed integration of garage-door openers into vehicles for years shows that such standards can be achieved.

Autonomous Cars
Two years ago, self-driving cars would have seemed like a distant sci-fi dream. But since the last SAE Convergence in 2010, Google has logged more than a quarter of a million miles with its fleet of self-driving Toyota Prius and Lexus RX450h vehicles. And this year the company has been instrumental in pushing through legislation that’s made self-driving cars legal in Nevada and California.

Audi is another pioneer in the space, developing an autonomous TT that drove solo up Colorado’s Pikes Peak. BWM has also debuted self-driving technology, and Cadillac recently revealed that its semi-autonomous Super Cruise lane-keeping technology will be available by the middle of the decade. Plus, Google’s announcement of its intention at the SAE World Congress in April to work directly with automakers and suppliers on self-driving technology will undoubtedly help accelerate this game-changing trend.

These are three topics are sure to be heavily discussed — and debated — at SAE Convergence 2012. Stop by the QNX booth during the show to see what the company is doing in these and other areas — or to share what trends you’ve spotted.

More about Doug
A widely respected reporter and editor with nearly three decades of experience in automotive journalism, Doug Newcomb currently writes for WIRED Autopia and for his own car technology portal, In 2008, he joined as a senior editor, where he created the site’s Car Technology section. Prior to Edmunds, he worked as an editor for a variety of automotive publications, including Car Audio and Electronics, Car Stereo Review, and Road&Track Road Gear; he also contributed to many others, including Popular Mechanics, MSN Autos, Corvette Quarterly, and SEMA News. In 2008, he published his first book, Car Audio for Dummies (Wiley).

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The ISO 26262 functional safety standard: No way but up?

I was scanning some Google alerts the other day when my eyes stopped at an announcement from Freescale. The headline didn’t mince words: the Freescale Qorivva MPC5643L microcontroller, a 32-bit part based on the Power architecture, has become the first automotive MCU to receive ISO 26262 functional safety certification.

Did you notice? Freescale didn’t say only; they said first. Which suggests they see ISO 26262 as a growing trend in automotive. If so, I think they see right.

If you’re unfamiliar with ISO 26262, let me provide the Reader’s Digest version. First and foremost, it applies to automotive electronic or electrical systems that could pose a hazard (i.e. hurt people) if they malfunction. Examples include anti-lock brakes, traction control systems, adaptive cruise control systems, engine control units, and digital instrument clusters.
Will more automotive
components soon come
with stickers like this?

The standard isn’t concerned with how well such systems perform. Rather, it’s about reducing the risk, and mitigating the effects, of any malfunction that may cause injury or death. So even if something bad unexpectedly happens in a 26262-certified system — and the assumption is that bad things will happen, no matter how well the system is designed and tested — the system will minimize potential harm. For instance, consider the scenario where a high-priority software process enters an infinite loop and starts to gobble up CPU cycles. Obviously, it’s important to prevent this error from happening in the first place. But even if it does happen, the system should prevent the rogue process from starving other critical processes of CPU time. It should also achieve a graceful recovery from the failure state.

ISO 26262 applies to production passenger vehicles with a gross mass up to 3500 kilograms (7716 pounds). Anything else is out of scope. But while the scope is limited, the standard itself is comprehensive. It covers functional safety aspects of the entire development process, from requirements specification to product decommissioning. And in case you were wondering, it’s closely related to IEC 61508, the international safety standard with a very long history and which many other safety standards reference.

So why do I think that 26262 is on the ascent? For starters, the first edition of the standard was published less than a year ago, yet a silicon vendor has already spent the considerable effort to get an MCU certified. Achieving certification to a standard like ISO 26262 doesn’t come easy, so I assume Freescale did it only because they anticipate market demand. (Disclaimer: This statement isn’t based on any special knowledge of Freescale’s business, but is simply my opinion. Interpret it as such.)

TÜV Rheinland:
Also in the game
It doesn’t stop at Freescale. TÜV Rheinland, a global provider of technical services for safety-critical systems, now offers 26262 services (training, consulting, testing, certification, you name it) for a wide variety of automotive components in multiple geographies. And if TUV has gotten in the game, it’s a good signal that the 26262 standard has legs.

Meanwhile, the LinkedIn group dedicated to 26262 has more than 3600 members and grew by more than 50 members last week alone. If you visit the group, you’ll find engineers from automotive OEMs and tier ones looking for guidance on satisfying 26262 requirements — a sure sign that support for the standard is gearing up.

From what I can tell, things haven’t gotten to the point where a company has been mandated to have its automotive systems certified to ISO 26262. But it will happen. And chances are, it will snowball: the more companies that adopt the standard, the more others will feel the pressure and follow suit. Which means it’s only a matter of time before more ISO 26262 product announcements show up in my Google alerts.