Autonomous driving solutions introduce a new complexity into the development of embedded systems in a car. This complexity rises with each level of control and autonomy. New tool categories have to be added like machine learning, but also existing technologies, like simulation, are stretched to their current limits. E.g., it is expected that the validation of a fully autonomous driving solution requires test drives in the amount of billions of kilometers. This results in the need for very complex simulation as part of the validation as well as the handling of extensive amounts of data in order to ensure quality at a realizable effort.
The toolchain for such challenges is complex and the integration of all the tools coming from different domains cost a lot of effort for each market participant without a real competitive advantage towards the solution. Therefore, the Bosch Autonomous Driving division, together with many partners, is currently building up the OpenADx ecosystem including OEMs, tier 1 suppliers, tool vendors, research organisations but also companies from related industries like the IT industry.
The goal of this endeavor is to stop wasting money on the introduction of a proprietary toolchain in each of the companies and to share the development costs for the toolchain. Besides the benefit of sharing the costs, the expected result is a better integration of the toolchain within the organizations, but especially also at the interface between cooperating organizations. For tool vendors and research organizations, the advantage of the approach is in the existence of an integration backbone which allows the provider to easily integrate new technologies or tools into a working environment that runs in a multitude of customer organizations, instead of providing proprietary solutions for single customers.
This does not mean to replace existing tools. There are many tools and technologies, be they commercial or open source, that solve perfectly their job and should do so in the future. The initiative targets at an optimal support of the development workflows along with the integration of the relevant tools as well as filling in gaps identified and not solved by existing tooling. This integration glue will be provided as open source software under the umbrella of the Eclipse Foundation.
The current state of the initiative is that there is a substantial amount of interested partners which work together in first testbed activities. The idea is to concentrate on clearly scoped topics that are of general interest. E.g., some partners are working on a demonstrator that combines several tools in the area of simulation using DDS as a communication technology. A second topic identified is the management and ingest of massive amounts of data. Another group is working on solutions to support this by providing importer for standard data formats and building up a corresponding infrastructure. A core technology identified is ROS, especially ROS2. As part of OpenADx, Bosch supports the porting of functionality like RVIZ and Rosbag from ROS1 to ROS2.
An important milestone reached lately was the organization of the Autonomous Driving hack challenge as part of the Bosch Connected Experience hackathon in Berlin. Over 100 hackers from all over Europe and other places joined together to experiment with technologies provided by OpenADx partners like Microsoft, MathWorks, Bosch, the German Aerospace Center and further research organizations. A well prepared set of technologies showed the ability of the ecosystem to join forces and create something valuable.
OpenADx is an industry approach to collaborate in non competitive areas like toolchains for developing Autonomous Driving solutions. The goal is to set up toolchains with less effort to accelerate the development of Autonomous Driving solutions. All interested parties are invited to join and support all of us in getting the right toolchains for Autonomous Driving development.