8 Transformative Trends in Automotive Software Development

The automotive industry nowadays relies more and more on digital technology. Digital transformation hasn’t skipped the automotive sector as well. Cars are not just cars anymore – their supercomputers on wheels. However their fundamental purpose remains the same, so all of their value-added features are shifting the focus from hardware to software content.

According to Reuters, the need for advanced safety features in automated and autonomous cars will increase vehicle software revenues more than four times to $1.2 trillion a year by 2030. As for now, vehicle software generates annual revenues of $280 billion a year, which is already quite an impressive number.

For that reason, automotive software developers need to adjust their tech development efforts so they can keep up with the evolving market.

Let’s have a look at some of the trends in automotive technology that deserve the most attention.

Bigger and Faster Mobility Data

You probably see the term “supercomputer on wheels” in many descriptions and reviews of the latest car models. There’s a solid reason for that. Apart from improved software, we can also see the increased usage of different sensory-based devices. They are solving more problems and open up new opportunities to customers.

A large number of sensors placed in our vehicles require a sensor fusion technology that manages all the data they deliver. This data is shared through fast-evolving connectivity. Latest technologies like 5G, for instance, allow modern vehicles to communicate with each other, as well as other connected devices.

Connectivity adds up not only to safety (predictive collision avoidance technology) but to the fundamental principles of the industry as well. Monetization of car data could become a new source of revenue for automotive companies, only if they’re able to get data privacy issues out of the way.

Automotive Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence has definitely been a buzzword across lots of industries in the last couple of years. When it comes to Automotive software development it is set to improve comfort, safety, and performance. This makes Deep Learning and Contextual Artificial Intelligence a trend to watch out for.

Automotive companies have already started to invest in this trend, in the face of simulation testing, image processing, and recognition and deep learning for improved decision-making. There are now experiments on brain-to-vehicle tech for better car safety.

The wide range of applications of Artificial Intelligence is set to expand as the technology develops.

Functional Safety

As we mentioned safety several times in the previous trends, we can’t skip talking about it some more, as it’s the most important feature of any vehicle.

Functional safety is a system that has to be built into your design from the very start. The attention to it is rapidly growing. Processors that aren’t designed with functional safety standards might lead to lengthy and costly qualification processes for safety-relevant applications.

Strengthened Open Source Software (OSS)

More and more OEMs and Tier 1s are adopting Open Source Software already. Linux has been used in this space for a while now, but over time  Automotive Grade Linux might prevail. Android OS also sees traction in IVI.

There are some Open Source Software elements that are developed with the rigor required to support functional safety use cases. The safety solutions offered by them are in the area of safety separation for virtual ECUs.

The adoption of Open Source Software will increase over time. The biggest benefit of OSS that has the pedigree to support safety use cases is the low cost of entry.

In other words, investing in certified software elements is a risk reduction. There’s a huge possibility that in the long-term we might see the automotive industry adopting more Open Source Software elements with functional safety pedigree to support ECUs with safety requirements.

Over the Air (OTA) Updates

No more going to a vehicle service center for updating the software on an ECU. In the technological era full of advanced electronics, it’s expected that ECUs will be able to update Over the Air (OTA).

You don’t go to an Apple store for your iPhone’s update, right? Considering that this feature is available on smartphones for a decade now, it’s expected that it will be on all compute platform very soon. Just like you update your smartphone, you should be able to update the software of your car.

Electronic Control Unit (ECU) Functionality

Automotive software developers are allowed to consider new types of workloads with the increase of functional requirements. The feature-rich silicone platforms and changes in vehicle architecture provide them the opportunity to consolidate functionality.

Virtual ECUs are supported by embedded real-virtualization solutions and are becoming more and more common. We are slowly reaching a point where the number of ECUs are exceeding the space able to house all electronics and cabling required to connect everything together.

Furthermore, cabling to network all the ECUs among the most costly car components. That’s why ECUs are sweeping through the automotive industry. As cars get smarter there’s no doubt that the trend towards consolidation will continue.

Increased Security Requirements

The growth of connectivity requirements that we already mentioned above, leads to a drastic increase in security requirements. The modern smart vehicles now need way more advanced security that goes beyond securing the physical networks on a vehicle.

The main focus will be on two-way security, that can prevent vulnerabilities caused outside and within the vehicle. However, this will bring new challenges of scalability and complexity.

Human Adaptability

The key to a manufacturer’s growth and success in the digital automotive world is simply being more human. Chasing the latest trends in the industry is not enough for developers. OEMs have to think of the driver’s experience and convenience, not just innovation, as some innovation may turn off a consumer instead of attracting him.

Stuffing vehicles with all the latest features are not what makes them successful. Automotive software developers need to recognize users’ needs and align them with the company’s strengths.

Artificial Intelligence has to be adjusted to human behavior and improve user experience. A great one should be your differentiating factor, instead of a car filled with all the innovations out there.


Above we’ve listed the most disruptive trends in automotive software development. The industry definitely wasn’t left out of the global digital transformation process and comes out with innovative features each year.

The requirement demands of automotive software will surely increase. They affect the way vehicle architectures are being implemented. OEMs have to think of a more holistic approach to vehicle architecture, because of that. Creating а human-friendly vehicle with the help of AI is set to gain the most success.