Does Dassault Systèmes have a meaningful role to play in the next generation of vehicles?

Laurence Montanari recently shared a sneak peek of the answer at 3DEXPERIENCE World in Nashville. And the vision is compelling and innovative. Before I can get into Dassault Systèmes’ role, I need to provide a little context.

The Challenge in Front of Automotive OEMs

If you’ve followed the automotive and transportation industry recently, you are likely familiar with the verification and validation challenges of modern vehicles’ groundbreaking features. There are lofty goals for assisted and autonomous driving capabilities. And experts project that physical testing won’t be able to keep pace with the rate at which companies develop them. Automotive companies seek ways to augment physical validation with more extensive digital verification. There is a flurry of activities, both exploratory and mainstream practices, to upgrade those virtual approaches.

Automotive OEMs and Software Platforms

Likewise, many of these groundbreaking automotive capabilities are built on complex systems composed of interconnected software, electronics, and electrical systems. Most notably, the amount of software in vehicles has risen dramatically. Automotive companies find themselves traveling down the path that many pure software companies have already trailblazed. Specifically, both types of companies need to run on all sorts of different hardware and must connect to a wide range of other software applications.

For automotive companies, these needs translate to a core software platform for almost all vehicle classes. However, to support variability, such platforms must connect to a range of OEM or supplier software module variants. Supporting connectivity to these software modules, in turn, requires interoperability. These vehicle software platforms must be able to connect to and work with external functions. The core platform might connect with a pedestrian recognition software function or configure the suspension system. Information and data is passed back and forth.

And that’s where things get interesting.

Connecting to an Automotive Software Platform

So, what does the next generation of virtual vehicle development look like? What role does Dassault Systèmes play? The answer lies in connecting to the vehicle software platform.

Laurence Montanari shared a proof-of-concept demo at the 3DEXPERIENCE World event. It showed an interface that could configure a vehicle by communicating with a vehicle’s software platform. You could change various options to verify the configuration you are exploring quickly. It was a simple example. But it showed how you could interact with the vehicle’s software platform.

The exciting part, however, lies in software-in-the-loop and hardware-in-the-loop use cases. You could connect a vehicle’s software platform to a virtual representation of that pedestrian recognition function or the suspension system and then run it through a digital verification road test. The vehicle software platform does not know that the actual software module has been replaced with a simulation. With that in place, you could spin up simulations, day and night, for digital verification. That would allow you to accelerate the validation of these new groundbreaking vehicle capabilities that are difficult to physically test quickly.

What’s My Take?

I know that verification of new vehicle capabilities is extremely difficult. I’ll always remember listening to a VP of engineering at a tier 1 automotive supplier talking about how they validated such features: they build physical prototypes as fast as possible. At that time, about five years ago, there was no other choice. But the maturation and platform-itization of vehicle software have opened up a new path. Dassault Systèmes and Laurence Montanari deserve credit for recognizing the opportunity and working with vehicle software platforms. This approach could open up exciting new opportunities for partnerships between automotive OEMs and pure-play software solution providers. And everyone wins.