System Capability Feedback-Cycles in Automotive Software Development
Doktorsavhandling, 2023

Context: The automotive industry is currently going through rapid change, driven by new technology; for example, electrification, autonomous driving, and connected cars. This new technology is largely based on electronics and software, and vehicles are increasingly becoming software-intensive systems. This affects how vehicles are developed, as automotive companies seek to adopt processes used in development of software-only systems, to gain the benefits of development speed and quick learning cycles possible in software development. Where sequential processes were previously the norm, automotive companies now aim to use agile methods at company-scale. Given the safety-critical nature of vehicles, and the mix software, hardware, and mechanical parts, this is challenging.

Objective: This thesis explores how system-level feedback capabilities can be achieved in development of automotive systems.

Method: To investigate a real-world setting, empirical methods are a natural choice. As an overarching research strategy, field studies are conducted at automotive companies. Over four studies, qualitative data is collected through semi-structured and structured interviews, focus groups, and workshops. The data is analyzed using adaptable methods, such as thematic coding. These qualitative approaches allow for open-ended questions, which are suitable for exploratory research.

Findings: Transitioning towards agility changes the role of architecture, requirements, and in general of system-level artifacts previously finalized during early development phases. Nevertheless, what is covered by architecture and requirements still needs to be handled. They contain accumulated expertise, and fundamental concerns, such as safety, remain. However, automotive companies need to handle an increased importance of software for new feature development. Continuing business-as-usual is not an option.

Conclusion: To achieve feedback capabilities on the system-level, there is a need for tools and methods allowing artifacts on higher levels of abstraction, for example architecture descriptions and requirements, to be modified and evolve over the entire course of development.

Continuous Software Engineering

Automotive Systems Engineering

Requirements Engineering

Software Architecture

Room Beta, Saga Building, Hörselgången 4
Opponent: Associate Professor Casper Lassenius, University of Aalto, Finland


Magnus Ågren

Chalmers, Data- och informationsteknik, Interaktionsdesign och Software Engineering

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Over the last decades, software has been a tremendous success. Most contemporary technical devices and systems contain software in some form. One reason behind this is the flexibility of software. Software can be modified and adapted more easily than electronics and mechanical parts. This flexibility is most prominent in software-only systems, such as web applications, where development is done as a sequence of many small changes. Since each change is small, developers can quickly get feedback on how a change affects the whole system.

In systems with a mix of software, electronics, and mechanical components, for example cars, it is more difficult to achieve similar fast feedback on the level of the entire system. Compared with software, development of electronics and mechanical parts has long lead times. However, innovation in automotive technology is largely based on software. Electrification, and assisted and autonomous driving are increasing the amount of software in cars. This affects how cars are developed, as automotive companies adopt approaches from development of software-only systems, to gain the benefits of development speed and quick learning cycles possible in software development.

This thesis contributes to the knowledge about what happens during software development for continuously evolving automotive systems. It also provides suggestions for software development for such systems, and perspectives on their architecture and architecting.

Next generation electrical architecture

VINNOVA (2014-05599), 2015-01-15 -- 2017-12-31.


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Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 5257

Technical report - Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology and Göteborg University: 231D



Room Beta, Saga Building, Hörselgången 4

Opponent: Associate Professor Casper Lassenius, University of Aalto, Finland

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