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How Software Is Eating the Car

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vehicle's software-based systems, illustration

Added safety and entertainment features have transformed automobiles into mobile computing centers.

Credit: Auto Publishers

The semiconductor shortage has underscored the auto industry's reliance on the dozens of concealed computers embedded throughout vehicles today.

"Once, software was a part of the car. Now, software determines the value of a car," says Manfred Broy, emeritus professor of informatics at Technical University, Munich. "The success of a car depends on its software much more than the mechanical side."

Today's high-end cars with advanced technology like advanced driver-assist systems may contain 150 or more microprocessor-based electronic control units (ECUs). Even low-end vehicles are quickly approaching 100 ECUs and 100 million of lines of code as features such as adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking are becoming standard.

New features, the multiplicity of variants for each make and model, and the shift from gasoline and human drivers to electric and artificially intelligent drivers mean hundreds of millions of lines of new code will need to be written, checked, debugged, and secured against hackers, making cars into supercomputers on wheels. There are tens of millions of lines code that run every time to you go to the grocery store.

From IEEE Spectrum
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