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Automotive bus open sourced with Linux-based design

Mar 12, 2015 — by Eric Brown 2,058 views

[Updated Mar. 18] — A German university is open-sourcing a secure, two tier Automotive Service Bus for car computers, which was developed as part of an electric car project.

Technische Universität München (TUM) has open-sourced an automotive computer bus design developed as part of its “Visio.M” (Visionary Mobility) electric car project, according a Mar. 10 press release by TUM. Next week at the CeBIT show in Hanover, Germany, TUM will demonstrate the carbon fiber Visio.M prototype, which was backed by the German government with 7.1 million Euros, as well as the car’s newly open “Automotive Service Bus.”

Visio.M prototype
(click image to enlarge)

The Automotive Service Bus is designed to handle today’s increasingly computerized cars, which often involve up to 80 different electronic systems, says TUM. Under the hood, the Automotive Service Bus is based on the Java-based Open Service Gateway Initiative (OSGi).

Visio.M interface console
(click image to enlarge)

As illustrated below, the system’s automotive control and safety monitoring functions are managed by a central control unit (CCU), built by IAV. In an email to, Michael Schermann, director of TUM’s Automotive Service Lab, says the CCU “contains two different micro controllers: one micro controller to control all functions of the car and another one to monitor the system regarding functional safety.”

Visio.M internal network
(click images to enlarge)

The system’s driver and Internet communications are handled by a “WebPC” module that communicates wirelessly with a touchscreen, which in the case of the Visio.M is an Apple iPad. The WebPC is based on a PandaBoard single board computer, which runs Linux on a Texas Instruments 1GHz, dual-core, Cortex-A9 OMAP4430 system-on-chip.

PandaBoard details
(click image to enlarge)

Although the bus uses a typical CAN network, it breaks from traditional automotive bus designs, which TUM says are based on 100-year old technology. The new bus architecture resembles that of a dual-layer smartphone architecture, securely isolating driving and safety functions from communications and Internet functions. All connected firmware components can be updated, appended, or deleted over the Internet.

Automotive components can send and receive messages via the Automotive Service Bus, but they are limited to read-only access to vehicle data. The only exception is for applications like a remote controlled car where “clearly defined situations for predefined functions the central ECU [Electronic Control Unit] grants write access,” according to the TUM announcement. Messages are split into events, commands, or preferences messaging types.


A standardized, yet customizable, GUI communicates with the driver via a central dashboard touchscreen. To minimize distractions, the GUI does not require precise touch events, but instead supports less precise swiping gestures. The bus and GUI support the addition of premium in-vehicle infotainment services such as music and navigation services via remote updates.

In addition to receiving support from the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, the Visio.M consortium includes BMW, Daimler AG, Siemens, TI, Continental Automotive, and other technology and automotive partners including IAV.

The Visio.M electric sports car prototype became “street legal” in Germany last October. The two-seat Visio.M has a range of 160 kilometers, and the 15kW motor supports a maximum speed of 120 km/h. The lightweight car is powered by a 13.5 kWh Li-Ion battery, which can be recharged in under four hours. The battery weighs 85 Kilograms, compared to 450 K for the car without the battery. TUM’s Mar. 10 press release can be found here.

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2 responses to “Automotive bus open sourced with Linux-based design”

  1. mw says:

    This post is full of senseless buzzwords and phrases like “based on 100-year old technology” or “dual-layer smartphone bus”. Automotive busses are leading edge technology and a “smartphone bus” is unknown also to Google. It is silly to simply put a press release into a post on Linux Gismos.

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