August 13, 2007 4:00 AM PDT
Body of a car, brains of a PC
- Related Stories
IBM to buy tools company TelelogicJune 11, 2007
At NY auto show, Ford focuses on changeApril 4, 2007
Ford, Microsoft get in Sync on in-car techJanuary 7, 2007
Honda investing in chips to help cars seeSeptember 19, 2006
IBM deal could mean smarter cars, better driversSeptember 14, 2006
IBM car tech to nab speedersApril 14, 2005
Car crazy: Microsoft in the driver's seatOctober 21, 2004
IBM aims to get smart about AIJanuary 20, 2003
- Related Blogs
Japanese revved up for car software standard
July 30, 2007
World Car of the Year
April 5, 2007
Records sales for Toyota in U.S.
July 3, 2007
(continued from previous page)
IBM is deeply involved in this area, as are automakers. A group of Japanese companies, including Honda Motor, Toyota Motor, Nissan and Toshiba, is reportedly planning to forge a car operating-system standard.
IBM, with its Telelogic buy, could also play a pivotal role in setting standards of future car operating systems. General Motors is a Telelogic customer, as are DaimlerChrysler, General Motors, BMW, Volvo and Volkswagen, according to Neeraj Chandra, executive vice president of corporate and product strategy at Telelogic. The company also counts Siemens VDO Automotive, Robert Bosch and Delphi, leading automotive suppliers, as clients.
About 7 percent of Telelogic's revenue--roughly $14.5 million of its estimated $208 million for 2006--came from the automotive industry. But its sales to the automotive industry in 2006 grew 32 percent, according to the company's annual report, more than to aerospace and defense operations combined.
"IBM has seen that there's an opportunity to help software developers in OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and tier 1s to use common tools to develop software and be more disciplined and structured," said David Alexander, principal analyst for automotive systems at ABI Research. "There is where IBM is thinking they have something to offer."
Automakers seem to agree, at least if GM and Ford are any indication.
"We definitely see that as one of the next frontiers for us as well," said Hans-Georg Frischkorn, executive director of global electrical systems, controls and software at GM. "In fuel economy or safety or telematics, software plays a major role."
Ford, too, sees software as crucial to new car development.
"It's easily one of the leading technological challenges faced in the auto industry because of the breadth of the systems. It is pretty much like a network on wheels these days," Ford's Milligan said.
Both automakers are struggling to compete for market share against successful Asian competitors like Toyota, which has seen record sales in the States and recently surpassed GM as the world's largest automaker, in terms of global sales.
In fact, American automakers may already be falling behind. Japanese carmakers like Toyota and Honda are already ahead of U.S. automakers in terms of the complex driving systems they offer Japanese drivers, according to ABI's Alexander.
"Honda has a more complex vision system than other carmakers that includes identifying pedestrians and other objects, as well as their movement and trajectory....Toyota has had a self-parking Prius for Japanese drivers since 2003," Alexander said.
"They're pushing ahead with new ideas in technology, and maybe the operating systems being developed outside of Japan may not be reacting fast enough. This is my interpretation of why they might decide to announce they are going it alone," Alexander said of the Japanese government's interest in developing its own automotive standards.
Time budgeted for the development of inventions is also decreasing.
"The product development cycle itself is compressing. It used to be five years. Now it's 24 months, and they are trying to get it down to one year. So you have shrinking development time and more complex-software development," Chandra said.
Developing software for particularly innovative new components is part of what a car company now does. But executives at GM and Ford said their companies look to outside help when it comes to developing the tools for writing that innovative software and managing requirements for component manufacturers.
"We're definitely building resources in-house as quickly as we can. While we do that, we are working with third parties, top names in the software industry," GM's Frischkorn said.
13 commentsJoin the conversation! Add your comment