Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Doors are opened to third-party developers to create apps, much like Google & Apple by automobile giants like General Motors, Ford

BANGALORE: At the world's largest auto component supplier's engineering centre in Bangalore, on a software engineers are hard at work they believe that it will dictate the future of the automobile industry. The electronics and engineering major Bosch developed a code with which developers can now create applications for cars which aid driving, similar to the ones that run on smartphones.
What these engineers are doing reflects a major shift - inspired by the success of Apple and Google - taking place in the automotive industry. Automakers that are usually cagey are opening up innovation platforms for third-party developers.
By doing so, carmakers like General Motors and Ford are creating an app ecosystem so that buyers can tap into the computing power within a car. These apps help drivers cruise and navigate better, they are told about the weather and lift in-car entertainment.
The creation of this ecosystem is the amount of semiconductor embedded in a modern vehicle that aids. With 150-200 chips in a car, many applications can be built -- from those that monitor weather more accurately to ones that improve mileage and provide driving assistance.
Bosch's software, called Busmaster, can plug into an automobile's nervous system, the CAN bus, and get messages from scores of electronic control units. For the controller area network bus the CAN bus -- an acronym -- transfers data between the electronic control units. The electronic units, in turn, monitor or control various functions like wiper blades and power windows.
What the developer has to do is download the software from the Net and hook up to the automobile's on-board diagnostic port. Rajesh Puttaswamy, an engineer at Bosch, and associates of the company's open source community have built an app called The Eco Buddy using Google's Android operating system. Data retrieved from the car's CAN bus is used by the app uses to analyse how good the driver is. It rates his gear shifting pattern, acceleration and braking aspects to predict how well he drove the car.
Such applications are expected to be the norm. "This is a sign of things to come," says Sri Krishnan V, vice-president, engineering unit, Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions. "The business model in auto industry is evolving rapidly. Everybody wants to emulate what is happening in consumer electronics.Automobile News

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