The global automotive industry is experiencing a paradigm shift. It’s not a gradual transformation from comfort- and performance-focused vehicle development toward the software-defined car. It’s a revolution rapidly changing vehicle manufacturers into tech giants investing their efforts to meet customer expectations by ensuring a new generation of vehicle software.

The future of the auto industry is no longer determined by better engines, bigger interiors, more luxury materials, standardized hardware, and a traditional automotive supply chain. Now, it’s the infotainment systems and connected services that make the difference.

Software-Defined Vehicles – how all these started

While implementation of SDV in the automotive industry has been speeding up in the last couple of months, the concept has been developed for years and continuously upgraded thanks to the evolution of automotive software development. The transformation to a software-centric approach was possible with improved computing power and separation of hardware and software development cycles.

Like in the mobile phone market years before, the automotive industry provides software platforms – ecosystems enabling the creation of numerous applications. Car manufacturers can once build the hardware and allow for continuous software development. What does it mean for end-users? They are not stuck with the software system bought while getting a new car.

Foundations for software-defined vehicles

Before an automotive company takes advantage of SDV capabilities and focuses on new business models it provides, there are few technical requirements to be met. Cloud platforms, seamless connectivity, Internet of Things, and Over-The-Air Upgrades are the foundation for effective software development in the automotive industry.

Cloud platforms enabling automotive software development

Along with the evolution of vehicle software delivery, the auto industry coined the phrase Automotive Cloud to describe the new philosophy of building robust and scalable infrastructure, allowing for the successful creation of software-defined vehicles. When auto manufacturers speak about the automotive cloud, they go beyond specific tools or software architecture. It’s an approach that includes determining technologies and methodologies, not just a single software platform.

Building a reliable cloud infrastructure requires determining solutions that help avoiding vendor lock-in and enable fast migration from one ecosystem to another. This is why automotive companies decide to build multicloud strategies and hybrid systems. Keeping that in mind, we can understand why the automotive industry chooses cloud providers such as AWS, Azure, VMware, OpenStack, and Kubernetes. K8s, the most popular container orchestration system, is highly valued for its help with rapid software development.

Among many aspects, the necessity to deliver automotive software to customers located all over the world encourages vehicle manufacturers to leverage cloud service providers as they build data centers globally. As software-defined vehicles are taking over roads on every continent, cloud solutions support faster information exchange and improve customer experience.

Automotive industry and Open Source

The transition towards the cloud is fast also, thanks to the community of experts building open source technologies. The rapid development of software-defined vehicles wouldn’t have happened without open-source solutions that focus on the vehicle industry.

Android Automotive OS enables every automotive software company to build infotainment systems and IVI applications, which impact not only customer experience but also unlock new business models.

Autosar (Automotive Open Source Architecture) ensures the development of standardized software architecture for ECUs. The project was designed to build Classic Platform and now evolved into Adaptive Platform. Autosar supports efforts to improve automated driving and enhance connectivity which paves the way for connected vehicles and new mobility services.

FreeRTOS, a Real-Time Operating System used for embedded solutions and Automotive Grand Linux is a distribution suitable for connected cars.

Why Open Source is so crucial for software-defined vehicles

Open-source solutions, from an open technology platform to specific tools, are commonly used by enterprises representing various industries, among them automotive. Its popularity is based on the community of people supporting developed technology and features with wide expertise. According to numerous reports, Open Source ensures security, functional safety, reliability, and resiliency.

Furthermore, among the driving forces encouraging car manufacturers to decide on open-source software platforms, is the fact that developers and platform operators find it easier to manage and maintain.

The power of open-source is the community behind it. Software complexity is not that complicated when you have access to user documentation, past data, and well-explained solutions.

Software-defined vehicles flourish thanks to the rise of open-source technology. Whatever it is – modular software components, software platforms, vehicle features, or vehicle automation capabilities – at some level, every future vehicle depends on open-source technologies. We can expect more as open source plays a vital role in the development of AI, IoT, and Big Data functions.

What’s next for automotive cloud

The process of adopting cloud solutions by car manufacturers will continue as Kubernetes, no-code, and serverless computing have become crucial to the Grape Up effective software delivery for the vehicle industry. We can expect further development of a software-defined automotive cloud that guarantees a resilient ecosystem for building future vehicles.

Seamless connectivity

The power of a software-defined car is enhanced by capabilities to exchange information and data with the global network of other vehicles and fully integrated infrastructure. Connected cars are changing everything – from customer experience, new features and services, to automated driving and increasing functional safety. How does it work?

Connected Vehicles leverages IoT ideas. A fleet of edge devices (in that case every vehicle is a device) connects to the closest from multiple hubs, which then routes the traffic to the cloud messaging queues or endpoints. To make it happen, the vehicle industry needs dedicated onboard devices and infotainment functions, connectivity medium, and Cloud IoT Hub and endpoints. These technologies ensure security, privacy, and efficiency.

How connected vehicle improves the future of the industry

Vehicle enterprise that implements properly designed onboard technology, connectivity medium, and Cloud IoT Hub can seize software-defined opportunities.

It all starts with the customer in mind. Hyper-connected, software-defined vehicles provide drivers with multiple functions and services (infotainment, driver assistance, real-time traffic reports) highly improving satisfaction. Thanks to over-the-air updates, new software and features can be delivered remotely, making a new market for 3rd party applications and constant development of additional services.

Furthermore, used software platforms and systems are secure by design. Along with security comes safety. V2C communication ensures better information about the situation on the road and assistance functionality for drivers.

Moreover, connected vehicles provide something that is highly praised, both by customers, management, and investors. It’s cost-effectiveness. Well-designed architecture splits computing powers between different resources, which reduces costs for vehicle enterprises. OTA updates change the software delivery process. While every new functionality can be implemented remotely, there is no need for dealership visits, and it also reduces operational spending.

Software-defined vehicles are limitless sources of information. Telematics technology provides insights about issues, bottlenecks, customer journey maps, vehicle status, predictive maintenance, and real-time alerts. Such info enables the automotive industry to deliver solutions improving customer experience in real-time and invest in innovative technologies to provide even more satisfying services.

In addition, especially when the global community is trying to reduce its carbon footprint and minimize its impact on the environment, smart navigation allows drivers to reduce CO2. It’s an amazing example of how the software-defined automotive industry can create a better future.

Internet of Things – IoT-defined vehicle

IoT in the vehicle domains is becoming omnipresent. New vehicles are connected, and fleet size grows rapidly. Vehicle enterprises can seize the effect of the network but also have to handle the increasing cost of all these requests from new devices. Here comes Digital Twin.

Digital Twin

The popularity of connected devices increases the costs of the connection between cloud and edge IoT tools. The Digital Twin concept is supposed to tackle this problem and limitations coming from unstable connectivity for vehicles in motion.

How? By creating a virtual representation of an object in the cloud. Digital Twin state is constantly kept in sync using IoT messaging protocols. Vehicle Twin has data representing its state, for example, the state of doors (locked/unlocked) or the temperature inside (from the climate control unit). If the remote operation of the opening door is triggered, it must be sent to the car.

Virtual World

The concept simplifies connected car development and vehicle manufacturing. Using this expertise, the automotive industry extends this approach to Virtual World – creating a virtual representation of heterogeneous objects and their connections. All these objects share similar interfaces, the same connectivity, and authentication means.

Every part of the ecosystem, including the road infrastructure, pedestrians’ devices, charging stations, or parking lots gain a virtual representation. Such an environment allows companies to create new features and expand onboard infotainment services.

Advantages of the virtual world go further. Machine Learning leverages past data achieved from real-world objects. The more complete the model is, the better solutions can provide.

Over-The-Air Updates

With the rise of software-defined vehicles, OTA upgrades have become a must. As software is now the key competitive advantage, the ability to remotely update once delivered systems, applications, and services is a game-changer. We can say, that along with Software-Defined, we observe an OTA-defined vehicle. Automotive companies that want to stay relevant in the future can’t afford to miss the opportunity.

For decades, the auto industry has been competing in supply chain optimization, hardware platforms, highly electromechanical terminals, electrical and electronic architecture, design innovation, and performance improvements. Now, the quality of software code and the effectiveness of constant improvement of in-vehicle systems determine customer choices.

How OTA makes the difference

OTA provides OEMs with the opportunity to reduce recall and warranty costs by diagnosing issues in advance and processing some fixes remotely. Customers that are used to managing things remotely appreciate software updates without the necessity to visit service centers. The remote update of software enables vehicle companies to remain compliant with developing industry standards and changing trends throughout the vehicle’s lifetime.

While OTA increases the satisfaction of individual customers, the magic happens in fleet management. The perfect example of the radical change is the fleet of multiple vehicle processing software upgrades simultaneously, which generates huge cost and time savings for various enterprises.


There are two types of OTA updates. Here is the difference, SOTA focuses on updating software – infotainment, navigation systems, voice assistance, etc. All these applications impact customer experience but are not critical.

FOTA, as of Firmware OTA, comes to replace the Operating System of the ECU/SoC and partially from the criticality of the systems. Computers controlling engine operations, ESP/TC, gearbox, or electronic chassis controller are required for safe and reliable operations of the vehicle. Failer makes the vehicle inoperable, beyond the repair capabilities of regular users. Avoiding such a situation at all costs is a priority.

Key SDV takeaways

From competing in performance improvement, hardware cost reduction, and supply chain optimization to a software-centric, application-defined vehicle, the automotive industry has gone through a complete revolution. And customer needs are also evolving. Once innovative solutions like navigation systems are now obvious tools.

While Tesla, since the very beginning, has been known for its software-first approach, established vehicle enterprises, like Volkswagen Groupe, BMW, and Stellantis focus on implementing SDV concepts. With every year, new software-defined vehicles occur on our streets and change the driving experience.

SDV is the future of the auto industry as the concept combines the most impactful technologies that already changed the market: connected cars, autonomous driving, and AI.

Approaches to implementing Software-Defined Vehicles

Observing the radical change in the automotive industry, we can notice the shift from building know-how in the area of hardware towards gathering software-centric, application-defined vehicle expertise. Manufacturers, OEMs, and Tier1 companies are rapidly developing their in-house software engineering teams. But to be competitive enough they need partners with extensive expertise in software delivery.

Through the years of providing software solutions for top auto enterprises, Grape Up gathered expertise that allows for building and implementing software-defined vehicles. Why do mobility enterprises decide to work with consulting and technology partners like Grape Up? Because they receive end-to-end services in prototyping, designing, and introducing solutions that make SDV work.