Bosch software-defined vehicle

The software-defined vehicle

Many car drivers expect their vehicles to be fully integrated into their digital lives. In addition, new connectivity, automation, and personalization features will be increasingly implemented with software in the future. While in the past the customer’s experience of a car was primarily defined by hardware, software is now taking on a much more important role. This trend of software massively shaping the customer experience and in some cases even the specification of the hardware is referred to as the “software-defined vehicle” (SWdV). This evolution not only affects development and operation, but also makes new business models and types of collaboration possible.

A new type of communication

Continuous optimization through over-the-air updates.

New services

Continuous connectivity

Increased vehicle value

The benefits of the software-defined vehicle

In the future, new features can be activated individually according to the driver’s needs. Examples include temporary services, features, or apps. Software updates therefore allow for contract and pricing models in which new features are provided as a service. As a subscription or for individual purchase.

The vehicle can communicate with its environment, collect data in real operation, and send it to the cloud. Using this data, features and services can be continually enhanced and re-uploaded to the vehicle using over-the-air updates.

Trends such as e-mobility, automated driving, and mobility services are made possible in particular by software. Just like with a smartphone, drivers expect new features to be continuously available for their vehicles. This challenge also presents opportunities: With regular updates, the value of the vehicle can not only be maintained but also increased throughout the entire life cycle.

This changes everything. A vehicle that is constantly being optimized

Today, a vehicle is in its best condition when it leaves the factory. But in the future, software can be continuously optimized within the limits of the hardware. This means that the vehicle can even improve after leaving the factory. For example, through updates to the vehicle features and upgrades and improvements. Software solutions will therefore become the key feature that vehicle manufacturers and fleet operators use in the future to set themselves apart. This paradigm shift is made possible in the first place by the separation of hardware and software.

Yesterday Tomorrow

The separation of hardware and software

What differentiates a vehicle in 2021 from one in 2031?

Dr. Claudio Seitz, Lead Product & Portfolio Software-defined Vehicle.

Dr. Claudio Seitz, Lead Product & Portfolio Software-defined Vehicle, explains that today's vehicles are designed to remain almost unchanged over their lifecycle and why future vehicles will be learning devices.

What is a software-defined vehicle in your opinion?

Achim Nonnenmacher, Lead Product & Portfolio Software-defined Vehicle explains why it needs up to seven years to bring a feature update in today’s vehicles, what full programmability is going to change in the future and how vehicles will improve while they are already in the field.

What are the three biggest challenges of automotive software and service development?

Sven Kappel, Vice President – Head of Project “Software-defined vehicle” talks about the three main challenges in the industry. He explains how the software complexity will increase over the upcoming years and why it needs to be managed. He also talks about organizational complexity, and how mindsets and cultures affect collaborations in the industry.

Everything develops. Even development

The software-defined vehicle is the logical consequence of today’s five greatest mobility trends. These consist of software and services, personalization, automated driving, connectivity, and electrification. The software-defined vehicle provides the perfect platform for all of these trends with its centralized, cross-domain E/E architectures . In the past, individual systems within the vehicle could be considered with an approach involving

separate domains. Integrating them into one overall system was already a challenge. Dependencies, especially in in-vehicle communication, had to be considered and the systems had to be closely matched with each other in order to work. These classic vehicle architectures are now reaching their limits. The solution: the software-defined vehicle.

Software and services Personalization Automation Connectivity Electrification

Software and services

Configuration options, which until now have been confined to the time of purchase, will increase greatly due to software and services that can be activated at a later point in time. This requires the vehicle to be prepared already for future features during system development to allow beneficial data services, for example, to be activated afterwards. In order to exploit the full potential of the software-defined vehicle, future planning and development must be cross-domain and forward-thinking.


The software-defined vehicle offers the perfect foundation for an individualized driving experience. In the automotive industry, personalization is top priority. In the future, individual drivers may wish to activate different functions and features in their vehicles – some of which may even be external applications. This means, however, that the various combinations of applications must be operable together in the first place. Bosch supports its partners in this regard with tools and services for the development and operation of the vehicle.


Ensuring the safety of the vehicle for automated driving requires an enormous amount of effort to protect passengers and other traffic participants. In the past, if one system failed, deactivating the system and instructing the driver to visit the nearest dealer or repair shop was sufficient. With automated driving, targeted actions must be taken to return the vehicle to a safe state.


The broad range of cloud solutions adds yet another layer of complexity to integration in vehicle development. Each supplier contributes a set of specific tools and cloud solutions tailored to the system they provide, leading to a great variety of development tools to be taken into account by the vehicle manufacturers. With its modular software components and an open technology platform, Bosch offers solutions that will make developing software-defined vehicles easier and more efficient in the future.


To take full advantage of the potential of electrification, domains and disciplines that have so far been separate are being brought together. An electric motor, for example, offers a much more dynamic range and can even generate energy and thus increase range during (regenerative) braking – the keyword here is recuperation. This trend therefore offers enormous benefits, but also requires forethought. Here, too, Bosch is electrifying its partners with its electromobility expertise.

“The automotive and IT industries do not have to be competitors. More than ever, they will complement each other.”

Dr. Stefan Hartung

Dr. Stefan Hartung

Chairman of the board of management

Use Cases

A new type of collaborative partnership

The paradigm shift in E/E architecture and the associated vehicle evolution demands closer collaboration between car manufacturers and suppliers. Bosch supports its partners in this regard through joint software development in the cloud. A comprehensive technology platform spanning from the vehicle to the cloud reduces the complexity of software development and system

integration. This enables over-the-air updates to run as smoothly as they do on smartphones. With preintegrated platform solutions, interfaces are reduced and software architecture and the cloud are designed to work in tandem. This makes updates much simpler.

Automotive software competence Broad domain knowledge Expertise in commercialization

Automotive software competence

With 14,000 experienced vehicle development experts in all vehicle domains, specific automotive knowledge in the areas of IT and IoT, and its own cloud solution, Bosch has long since become a software company.

Broad domain knowledge

Bosch is there at every step of the vehicle life cycle, from development to operation in the field. What is more, Bosch has expertise in all areas of the future E/E architecture – from sensor technologies and embedded devices to the vehicle computer and the automotive cloud.

Expertise in commercialization

Bosch provides its partners with many years of proven expertise in the implementation of products in large-scale production in accordance with the automotive industry’s standards for validation requirements and safety requirements.

Cloud-based services

Cloud-based services

Bosch is moving the development of connected services forward – with solutions for cars and trucks as well as two-wheelers. These services make the vehicle both a sender and receiver of data in the internet of things. It constantly exchanges data and information with the cloud, other vehicles, infrastructure, workshops, and providers of mobility services.

With this increasing connectivity, the potential for new offerings and business models grows, which will form an independent business ecosystem over time. Bosch supports this development with a wide range of inspiring services and secure connectivity solutions.

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