EDA and the car: are we missing the bus?

The release of Volcano Vehicle Systems Architect by Mentor got some of us to discover AUTOSAR and the possibilities it offers.
First the news then the background and then the commentary.

The News
A few days ago, Mentor Graphics Corporation announced technology that makes possible an AUTOSAR-based vehicle system design flow from architectural exploration to implementation. The new product, Volcano Vehicle Systems Architect (VSA) enables AUTOSAR-based system and embedded software design with support for FlexRay, CAN & LIN network design. VSA improves quality, reliability, time to market, and cost advantages by facilitating the use of standard interfaces and components based on AUTOSAR.

VSA, the first member of Mentor’s AUTOSAR product family to be announced, focuses on the model-driven design process, incorporating the AUTOSAR standard. This approach allows customers to reduce their reliance on downstream validation and physical prototyping. Automotive companies can achieve substantial cost savings in the development process by moving significant decisions and verification tasks to the front end of the design cycle.

With VSA, engineers can design, explore and compare electronic and software architectures. VSA further allows users to take advantage of “correct-by-construction” design methodology reducing reliance on test-oriented validation approaches. VSA supports multi-partner, distributed iterative development enabling greater interaction between OEMs and Tier1 suppliers. The product is based on the open-source, plug and play, Eclipse Integrated Development Environment, making VSA easily extensible by the customers as well as other tool suppliers.

What is AUTOSAR?
AUTOSAR (AUTomotive Open System ARchitecture) is a worldwide development partnership of car manufacturers, suppliers and other companies from the electronics, semiconductor and software industry. Since 2003 the AUTOSAR Consortium has worked on the development and introduction of open, standardized software architecture for the automotive industries.

AUTOSAR impact is worldwide. In Japan, JasPar (Japan Automotive Software Platform and Architecture) has been working on the evaluation and testing of AUTOSAR results. Tools such as VSA, which facilitate the adoption of AUTOSAR and related technologies, are regarded as having important implications for the Japanese automotive market. JasPar is using the experience of the consortium members and standards such as AUTOSAR and FlexRay to create future automobile design standards for Japan. Mentor Graphics is a premium member of both AUTOSAR and JasPar.

The AUTOSAR membership is divided into four groups: Core, Premium, Associate, and Development members. Frank Schirrmeister has posted a blog in the Synopsys blogosphere about his presentation at the SAE Congress in Detroit on "system Level Architecture Design Tools and Methods" in front of 20 or so attendees, he says. It turns out that the ONLY EDA vendor that is a member of AUTOSAR is Mentor Graphics. This is curious because I clearly remember Synopsys explaining to me their strong market position in the automotive world thanks to their acquisition of the MAST language when they purchased Analogy. I have not heard about MAST since then, by the way. Cadence is also not a visible presence in an industry that will transition to more electronics applications than ever, and every car has a lot of electronics today already.
I am afraid that such an absence of EDA representation is one more indication that our industry is not a leader, but a follower. I know that the demand must be there if a product is to be a success, but being part of a group of companies that establish a direction and a collection of standards is not only prudent, it is becoming vital.