European researchers working on the DySCAS project have developed an automotive software architecture that will enable cars to receive software updates just like computers and mobile phones. "Cars take many years to develop and most are designed to be on the road for perhaps a decade," says DySCAS coordinator Martin Sanfridson, a researcher at Volvo Technology. "In that time, technology can change a lot, but currently there is no efficient way to update the software in these vehicles." The DySCAS architecture enables cars to reconfigure and update themselves autonomously, and to communicate with other devices such as a driver's mobile phone or personal digital assistant (PDA). Using middleware, the DySCAS architecture could allow the car's onboard navigation system to automatically access addresses on the driver's PDA, or play music directly from a mobile phone. The DySCAS architecture also allows software in cars to access wireless hotspots, such as at the owner's house or public parking garage, and download new maps for the navigation system, update the entertainment system to play new formats, or adjust engine timing based on more fuel efficient settings from the manufacturer.
Sanfridson says DySCAS initially will be used to update noncritical systems such as navigation aids and entertainment platforms, but once the architecture has proven to be reliable it could be used to update critical components and settings.
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