Automakers still do transmissions, chassis and aerodynamics, but we live in a world where electronics and connectivity is another mission-critical element of automotive design. Even if you’re technologically challenged, virtually any new vehicle you buy today will invariable boast what used to be NASA-level computing power as standard equipment. Any number of new things offer Apple or Android connectivity. Volvo Cars has a serious handle on all of this, and announced this week that it’s taking its full array of software development in-house for the next generation of Volvos, which will include an all-electric SUV that’s yet to be formally launched. The system, and process, will be known as VolvoCars OS, for Operating System, and its being undertaken to make the development of vehicle smarts both faster and more flexible.
The primary objective in creating VolvoCars OS is to have a one-stop, umbrella system for developing connectivity among Volvo products, especially the coming series of electrified ones. The new process groups previously existing operating systems, across both the car itself and the cloud, into a single, organic environment. Among the existing systems that will be grouped via VolvoCars OS will be Android Automotive OS, QNX, AUTOSAR and Linux. The system will also significant boost Volvo buyers’ ability to access realtime over-the-air software updates over the life of the vehicle. A variety of application programming interfaces, commonly APIs for short, will give programmers access to vehicle and cloud data – with owner consent, Volvo makes clear. Stripped to its basics, the OS will give Volvo a single software portal for each car, as opposed to the multiple control units now necessary with individual operating systems. That’s called simplicity, digital-style.