Software-defined vehicles

Open technology platform for the software-defined vehicle

Increasing digitalization, new mobility concepts, and trends such as personalization, connectivity, electrification, and automation create the potential for innovations like the software-defined vehicle. The software-defined vehicle is a term used to describe the gradual transition from hardware-driven development to software-defined development. New functions are implemented primarily through software and can be made available to the vehicle through regular updates. Technological, organizational, and cultural key drivers are paving the way for the software-defined vehicle. As a result, a personalized user experience is being created for end customers that is always state of the art.

Accelerated development through modular software building blocks

Bosch, together with its partners, is developing an open technology platform including an in-vehicle software stack. Bosch’s work here focuses on highly integrated development toolchains and vehicle-related cloud-platform services. This approach is based on the latest developments related to zone-oriented E/E architectures in combination with vehicle computers and ensures deep integration across all vehicle domains. With this software-centric engineering approach, Bosch is speeding up and simplifying the way in which vehicle software is developed, tested, and deployed.

An innovative development and runtime environment supports software engineers with the latest development toolchains while fulfilling the highest safety and security requirements of the automotive sector. With modular software building blocks used as a basis for the development work, resources are freed up so vehicle manufacturers can focus on the development of differentiating products and services. Technology neutrality and the use of open-source software are essential for this approach.


development process

thanks to jointly developed industry standards for non-differentiating software building blocks


costs and resource expenditure

thanks to modular software building blocks that provide basic functionalities

new and personalized


through continuous development and over-the-air updates throughout the vehicle life cycle

open and flexible


through seamless integration of third-party software

Optimized software development thanks to standardized basic functionalities

Software building blocks that can be deployed for any brand, on any platform, and in any segment form the basis for quick implementation of new software functions. These building blocks do not contain any brand-specific functions that are recognizable by the end customer. With such building blocks, a software-defined vehicle can be developed and operated more efficient.

Sven Kappel, the director of the software-defined vehicle project at Bosch, describes in a video interview the business potential that the software-defined vehicle opens up for automobile manufacturers, what the open technology platform provided by Bosch and its partners looks like, and what the benefits are for the end customer.

An open development ecosystem with strong partners

Strong partnerships are essential for realizing the software-defined vehicle. Bosch and Microsoft, both global market leaders in their areas of expertise, are pooling their competencies to get the vehicle domain connected to the cloud domain. This development collaboration combines the in-depth expertise in software, electronics, and systems of Bosch, ETAS, and ESCRYPT with the know-how of Microsoft and GitHub in the areas of cloud computing, agile software development, and open-source software.

The aim of the collaboration is to develop vehicle software continuously, faster, and more easily throughout the vehicle life cycle and to deploy software in the vehicle based on regular updates. Both companies are committed to an open development ecosystem with open-source software building blocks to which further partners are invited to contribute their expertise. Through its participation in open-source projects and open-source work groups, such as the GENIVI Alliance and the Eclipse Foundation, Bosch is actively shaping the standardization of software and interfaces in the automotive sector.

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.

Key drivers of the software-defined vehicle

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Vehicle-centralized, zone-oriented E/E architecture with vehicle computers

Around one hundred different electronic control units are built into a vehicle nowadays. Each control unit has its own software for performing specific functions. This highly distributed, domain-oriented architecture is increasingly being replaced by a centralized E/E architecture with a few immensely powerful vehicle computers. This trend leads to reduced system complexity, but it does at the same time also increase the requirements placed on software platforms and virtualization. New software architectures and technologies from the IT industry are largely responsible for driving this transition.

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Independent software life cycle through separation of software and hardware

Microprocessor-based vehicle computers and virtualization support the separation of software and hardware. The use of service-oriented architectures supports a clearly modularized structure of overlying software layers. The vehicle-independent and generation-independent software life cycle simplifies the development of new cross-domain functions for software-defined vehicles.

End users of software-defined vehicles benefit from new software functions that can be rolled out, monitored, operated, and updated continuously over the air throughout the vehicle life cycle. This simplifies, for example, the task of configuring and rolling out new software functions for specific regions and vehicle models.

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Agile methods in software engineering

New vehicle generations nowadays use over 100 million lines of software code. The continuously increasing complexity requires new software development methods for the automotive segment. The traditional V-model is reaching its limits here and is being supplemented by so-called DevOps, an approach from agile software development. This integrative approach comprising development (Dev) and operations (Ops) employs an iterative methodology for the continuous enhancement and improvement of software.

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Strategic partnerships as a success factor for the software-defined vehicle

Instead of make-or-buy decisions, the focus is increasingly on collaborations for realizing the software-defined vehicle. Bringing together strengths and competencies from different areas is essential for success – also in order to be able to respond to changing software engineering paradigms. Likewise, expertise in the areas of software engineering is also being enhanced and developed.

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Bosch teams up with Microsoft to develop software-defined vehicle platform for seamless integration between cars and cloud


Stuttgart and Munich, Germany – Bosch teams up with Microsoft to develop a software platform to seamlessly connect cars to the cloud. The goal of this collaboration is to simplify and accelerate the development and deployment of vehicle software throughout a car’s lifetime in accordance with automotive quality standards. The new platform, which will be based on Microsoft Azure and incorporate software modules from Bosch, will enable software to be developed and downloaded to the control units and vehicle computers. A further focus of the collaboration will be on the development of tools that increase efficiency in the software development process. This in turn will drive innovation and reduce development costs for vehicle software within and across organizations.

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Bosch contributes software to the Common Vehicle Interface Initiative (CVII)


Bosch has been actively contributing software to the Vehicle Signal Specification (VSS) as part of the joint GENIVI/W3C Common Vehicle Interface Initiative (CVII) since mid-2020. VSS is a common vocabulary to describe vehicle signals, ensuring that the name and semantics of standard data points are the same across the software stack. We have joined to support the CVII’s objective of establishing industry-wide common interfaces for vehicle data and functions.

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Sven Kappel, Connected Mobility Solutions, Head of Software-defined Car

Sven Kappel

Connected Mobility Solutions, Head of Software-defined Car

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