When learning the basics of automotive embedded systems, students often wonder about the job roles in this domain. The key fact is that the sector offers a variety of career paths at the entry-level. To understand which one you're best suited for, here's a detailed rundown that talks about companies and job profiles in this field.
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are the various firms that manufacture automobiles. The best examples include Maruti-Suzuki, Mercedes Benz, Audi, Hyundai, and TATA Motors.
Tier 1 firms collaborate with OEMs to manufacture electronic control units (ECUs). They make specific parts and supply them to the OEMs, who assemble the components. Examples of such companies are Visteon (a leading name in instrument cluster manufacturing in India), Pricol (two-wheeler parts), Harman (audio equipment), and Continental.
Tier 2 firms handle the R&D work and maintenance for the suppliers. Examples of tier 2 companies are L&T Technology Services and Tech Mahindra.
The tool-chain providers handle all software additions and updates. Companies that specialize in real-time operating systems (RTOS) include GreenHills and QNX, and the firms that specialize in AUTOSAR are Vector and Elektrobit. There are other companies in this category that provide protocol stacks, PCB designs, and manufacture, debuggers, etc.
From the essential requirements and understanding of the vehicle features to the final testing of the product, various departments and people are involved in the process. The first step is finding out why you should create and install a new ECU to the vehicle. These are the other phases that happen until the final product dispatch.
If the product is an interactive tool or something that involves display and audio, HMI design comes into play. If you have excellent UI/UX skills or graphic designing experience using Photoshop or Illustrator, you can work in this segment and put your creativity to use.
If you are familiar with animation software like GL Studio or Altia, you can design how the messages should be displayed and how the interactive interface would be.
As a network designer, your job is to ensure a smooth flow of communication between devices and between vehicles. Even the simple act of switching the AC on and off requires a lot of signal processing. You need to understand the vehicular features, communication protocols, and concepts like signal design and data packaging.
Software development has two primary categories: application software and device drivers. The former deals with the business project, including coding using languages like C++. The latter deals with the hardware components, the heart of the embedded system.
Apart from these two main categories, there are several other career paths in the software development domain.
Software in-loop testing, model in-loop testing, and hardware in-loop testing are the main types of software testing modes. White-box testing and static analysis are methods to test the robustness of the code before integrating it with the hardware. Optimizing the software concerning the performance metric (reducing signal response time or storage, say) is called memory profiling.
There are several tools available to test only the automation component of the vehicle. The commonly used ones are Python, CAPL Scripting (CAN-based testing), and C# (DLLs).
As a hardware developer, your job profile would include component selection, schematic design, PCB design, and circuit simulation. One way you measure the performance characteristics of your hardware is through benchmarking.
Prototype testing is the first step (only the product), followed by system integration testing (along with the other components) to test the hardware product(s).
The final stage is called vehicle testing, where you have a car already built with the software components and ECUs, and you test it to meet some production milestones.
As mentioned before, the integrated digital cockpit is the collective name for the three ECUs: the instrument cluster, the infotainment system, and a head-up display.
A single System-on-Chip (SoC) is used to implement all three ECUs. The standalone applications of each run independently on the multi-core SoC, made possible today by the Hypervisor technology that supports parallel execution and transfer of information between the different cores.
The primary objective is to ensure smooth communication between the ECUs without any lag. The single SoC optimizes resource usage and brings down the manufacturing cost too.
Thus, the field of automotive embedded systems offers a variety of job openings at the entry-level for budding engineers. If you are an engineering student that's interested in working in this sector, you need to have excellent training in this area through a full-fledged course.
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