Software-Defined Car

Our Mission​

All project partners of the SofDCar Alliance are focussing their research on the challenges of future E/E & SW architecture in vehicles. Each vehicle is seen as one piece in a network of all vehicles and the infrastructure. Its integration will be enabled via “data loops” and new-type “digital twins”, thereby paving the path to digital sustainability (of todays and tomorrows vehicle generations) and enabling efficient data structures and innovative use cases throughout the whole vehicle lifetime (Re-Deployment).

This project is part of a government-sponsored research program. It is sponsored by the German Ministry of Business Affairs and Climate Control (BMWK).



Technological change

While digitalization enables numerous new products and services, it challenges existing industries by massive change.

This is particularly true for the automotive industry, having to manage the increasing complexity and significance of in-vehicle software.  

Mastering the technological requirements of digitalization, the electronics and software architectures, as well as development methods and processes, need to be subjected to massive and fundamental change. 


Mastering security of software and services will become more and more important and is a key element for the German automotive industry, establishing a solid global market position.

Future automotive architectures, fulfilling new requirements and opportunities, form a disruptive technology. Due to their high degree of distribution and networking issues, they require a highly variable and interoperable platform.



Adding functions

Innovations of sensors and IT enable new functionality in and around tomorrows vehicles.

These software-implemented functions, like enhanced driver assistance (ADAS) and automated driving, as well as connected business fields like predictive maintenance, fleet management, car-/ride sharing and intermodal mobility, will require steadily increasing computing performance, storage volumes and connectivity bandwidths.


Steadily increasing requirements on sustainability create a demand on tomorrows vehicle to be flexible and adaptable. Taking into account 20 years as the vehicles life span, the ability of flashing functions over-the-air (OTA) is a must for sustainability of future vehicle concepts.

This is key, enabling used cars to be operated safe, secure, reliable and conforming to the law (even if there are changes in environmental, technological, or regulatory issues).

Frequently asked questions

The “Software-Defined Car” (SofDCar) consortium will develop new technologies, methods and processes for the car of the future. This includes efficient ways of Data Usage and will enable software updates as well as new function over the whole vehicle life span. 
The project “SofDCar” will address the task, exploring the mandatory requirements for the vehicle and the networking infrastructure (cloud) and derive the necessary requirements on structure and standards. 

The primary objective of the project “SofDCar” is, all future Software-Updates and –Upgrades will follow defined rules and processes. This will ensure they are under control and a consequent methodology for functional and IT-security was established. Furthermore it’s a joint project goal, contributing to more entrepreneurial innovations and digitalization as well as giving important impulses to evolving industry standards. Due to the contributions of many institutes of the two universities involved, the project will also foster the academic qualification process. 

Besides Bosch, having also the role as consortial lead, these partners form the joint project team: Mercedes-Benz, ZF Friedrichshafen, ETAS, P3 digital services, T-Systems International, Vector Informatik, BooleWorks, Universität Stuttgart, KIT, FZI, FKFS and e-mobil BW.

The consortium started on 02/08/2021 and will last until 31/07/2024. The three-year project is funded by the German Ministry of Business Affairs and Climate Control (BMWK) with 43 million euros.

A group of multiple partners, acting together in one focus field of Sofdware-defined Car, are called a Workstream“. The SofDCar consortium has jointly defined four of these focus fields – these are the Workstreams „Data Loop“, „Re-Deployment“, „Digital Twin“ and „Demonstrators“.   


Workstream 1 „Data Loop“ – Bosch, Mercedes-Benz, ZF Friedrichshafen, ETAS, T-Systems International, Universität Stuttgart, KIT und FZI 

Workstream 2 „Re-Deployment” – Mercedes-Benz, ZF Friedrichshafen, ETAS, P3 digital services, T-Systems International, Vector Informatik, Universität Stuttgart, KIT, FZI und FKFS 

Workstream 3 „Digital Twin” – Mercedes-Benz, ZF Friedrichshafen, T-Systems International, Vector Informatik, BooleWorks, Universität Stuttgart, KIT, FZI und FKFS  

Workstream 4 „Demonstrator“ – Bosch, Mercedes-Benz, ZF Friedrichshafen, ETAS, P3 digital services, T-Systems International, Vector Informatik, Universität Stuttgart, KIT, FZI und FKFS 

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Associated Partner

e-mobil BW GmbH is the central innovation agency of the State of Baden-Württemberg for New Mobility Solutions and Automotive. Working in a network with partners from industry, science and the public sector, e-mobil BW is shaping the change to automated, connected and electric mobility in a sustainable energy system. e-mobil BW drives the industrialization, market launch and application of sustainable, climate-friendly and locally emission-free mobility solutions in Baden-Württemberg.

Commitment in the consortium

e-mobil BW GmbH is a 100% subsidiary of the State of Baden-Württemberg. As an associated partner, the State Agency for New Mobility Solutions and Automotive, e-mobil BW, supports the consortium on the topics of public relations, knowledge transfer and dissemination of the knowledge gained. Available for this purpose are networks such as the Cluster Electric Mobility South-West and platforms such as Transformationswissen BW, an information centre for medium-sized companies from the supplier industry and the automotive industry in Baden-Württemberg.

Research Partner

The FZI Research Center for Information Technology is a non-profit institution for applied research in information technology and technology transfer. Its task is to provide businesses and public institutions with the latest research findings in information technology. It also qualifies young researchers for their career in academics or business as well as self-employment. Research teams ( ) at the FZI interdisciplinarily develop and prototype concepts, software, hardware and system solutions for their clients.

Commitment in the consortium

The FZI Research Center for Information Technology conducts application and industry-oriented research in a wide range of relevant topics. In the field of mobility, the focus is on autonomous vehicles, electric mobility, intermodal and networked mobility, and the development and safeguarding of future vehicle systems through novel processes and methods.

Research Partner

As a technical university of excellence, KIT considers itself as the “research university in the Helmholtz Association”. With its focus on engineering sciences, KIT contributes significantly to the research fields of mobility and information. The “KIT Mobility Systems Center” combines the extensive competences from informatics and electrical engineering into an interdisciplinary research concept. As part of the “InnovationCampus Future Mobility”, KIT forms an on-topic research alliance with the University of Stuttgart.

Commitment in the consortium

KIT provides the consortium partners with scientifically sound and highly innovative key competencies in the field of software-intensive mobility systems. This competence is based on a large number of competition-relevant research results and is rounded off by a forward-looking range of curricula. KIT’s participation in the project aims at a knowledge transfer of development methods and quality assurance approaches to the automotive industry. For this purpose, a network of five different sub-institutes with complementary research focuses was formed, consisting of the Institute of Information Security and Dependability (KASTEL), the Institute of Applied Informatics and Formal Description Methods (AIFB), the Institute of Product Engineering (IPEK), the Institute for Information Processing Technologies (ITIV), and the Institute of Theoretical Informatics (ITI).

Research Partner

The University of Stuttgart is one of the leading technically oriented universities in Germany with global significance. It sees itself as a center of university-based, non-university, and industrial research. Furthermore, it takes a role as a guarantor of research-based teaching, focused on quality and holism. The university promotes the transfer of knowledge and technologies to society in all their profile- and competence areas as well as their emerging fields. The „Stuttgarter Weg” (Stuttgart Way) means an interdisciplinary integration of engineering, natural sciences, humanities, management, economics and social sciences based on the fundamentals of cutting-edge research at a disciplinary level. Our vision is “Intelligent systems for a sustainable society”.

Commitment in the consortium

The University of Stuttgart, which is ranked as the highest in Germany with respect to third-party funds, has extensive experience in collaborating with industrial partners – also and especially from the automotive industry. The following institutes are involved in the SofDCar project: Institute for Industrial Automation and Software Engineering (IAS), Institute for Architecture of Application Systems (IAAS), Institute for Automotive Engineering Stuttgart (IFS), Institute for Parallel and Distributed Systems (IPVS), Institute for Software Engineering (ISTE), and Institute for Control Engineering of Machine Tools and Manufacturing Units (ISW).

Industry Partner

BooleWorks is a young, Munich based, company that specialises in applying mathematical logic to the automotive industry. The team at BooleWorks develops algorithms and methods for variant and complexity management. The resulting software helps customers to control, analyse, and visualise the enormous variability of their products. BooleWorks’ open source logic library LogicNG is integrated into companies’ central services and is used in configurator backends millions of times each day.

Commitment in the consortium

Within the consortium BooleWorks focuses on two major tasks: The first is to adapt the open source logic library LogicNG so that it can be applied within vehicles themselves. Therefore, in addition to the current Java version, the library will be reimplemented in a machine-oriented language like Rust or Go. For usage in containerised environments, service layers will be specified and implemented. The second is to extend existing algorithms for complexity management and verification of large variances from pure hardware verification to software verification. Use cases within OTA variant management and software update management are of particular interest. Integrating these algorithms into model-based description frameworks like TOSCA is also planned.


Vector ist der kompetente Partner für die Entwicklung von Elektronik im Automobil. An 31 Standorten weltweit unterstützen über 3.000 Mitarbeitende, Hersteller und Zulieferer der Automobilindustrie und verwandter Branchen mit einer professionellen Plattform aus Werkzeugen, Softwarekomponenten und Dienstleistungen zur Entwicklung von eingebetteten Systemen. Angetrieben von unserer Leidenschaft für Technik entwickeln wir Lösungen, die Softwareentwickler:innen bei ihren anspruchsvollen Aufgaben entlasten.

Das Engagement im Konsortium

Mit der Entwicklung einer Ausführungsplattform will Vector die Vernetzung der Funktionsanteile im Fahrzeug möglichst transparent ins Backend, also in die Cloud erweitern. Der Entwickler einer Fahrzeugfunktion soll neben den Softwarekomponenten im Fahrzeug auch Komponenten in der Cloud entwickeln, ausführen und vernetzen können. Heißt konkret: Zukünftig muss die Elektronik im Auto nicht mehr alle Aufgaben übernehmen, sondern einen Teil übernimmt die Cloud. Außerdem beteiligt sich Vector an der Entwicklung einer Werkzeuglösung zur Verwaltung variantenreicher Software. Denn klassische Automobil-Software variiert sowohl mit den Produktvarianten als auch über die Lebensdauer des Fahrzeugs. Um Wartung und Fehlerkorrekturen jedoch langfristig sicherstellen zu können, braucht es eine zentral gepflegte Softwareplattform als eigene Softwareproduktlinie.

Industry partner

Vector is the competent partner for the development of automotive electronics. More than 3,000 employees at 31 locations worldwide support manufacturers and suppliers in the automotive industry and related sectors with a professional platform of tools, software components and services for the development of embedded systems. Driven by our passion for technology we develop solutions which relieve software developers of their demanding tasks.

Commitment in the consortium

In developing an execution platform, Vector wants to extend the networking of the functional parts in the vehicle as transparently as possible to the back end, i.e. to the cloud. In addition to the software components in the vehicle, the developer of a vehicle function should also be able to develop, execute and network components in the cloud. In concrete terms, this means that in the future, the electronics in the car will no longer have to take on all the tasks; instead, the cloud will take on some of them. Additionally, Vector supports the development of a tool solution for managing software with many variants. This is because classic automotive software varies both with the product variants and over the lifetime of the vehicle. However, in order to be able to ensure maintenance and error corrections in the long term, a centrally maintained software platform is needed as a separate software product line.

Industry Partner

P3 digital services supports its customers holistically in the digital transformation. The spectrum of services ranges from digitalisation strategy and consulting (architecture & technology, cloud, DevOps, process automation, embedded and cyber security) to software development and the operation of applications and IT solutions. For and with its customers, P3 develops future-proof solutions in the field of connected, electrified and autonomous mobility, such as innovative infotainment solutions, connected services, charging solutions, IoT and automation solutions.

Commitment in the consortium

P3’s strengths in relation to this project lie primarily in the areas of automation and virtualisation in product development, product and process conformity with regard to software updates and cyber security, as well as innovative, connected infotainment and service solutions. P3 is a leading consultancy and development partner for the automotive industry and in this capacity drives digitalisation across the entire vehicle lifecycle.

Industry Partner

ETAS‘ portfolio includes vehicle basic software, middleware, and development tools for the realization of software-defined vehicles. Our product solutions and services enable vehicle manufacturers and suppliers to develop and operate them with increased efficiency. Holistic cybersecurity solutions in the automotive sector are offered via the ESCRYPT brand.

Commitment in the consortium

For this development paradigm, ETAS GmbH offers software developers of deeply embedded ECUs a broad portfolio of products. This ranges from real-time operating systems and AUTOSAR middleware solutions to model-based development tools, prototyping tools, and verification and validation tools. ETAS is currently aligning its product portfolio to close the gap between conventional deeply embedded automotive tools and non-automotive, IT-based development tools, especially those that the automotive sector has special requirements for, such as functional safety, extended product life cycles, and the resulting security requirements.

Industry partner

Bosch is a global industrial enterprise. Some 401.300 associates work in its Mobility Solutions (58% share of sales), Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology business sectors.

As part of the Mobility Solutions business sector, the Powertrain Solutions division and its Software-defined Vehicle business unit are developing connectivity platforms for in-vehicle use and cloud-based backend solutions. In order to offer an integrated onboard and offboard portfolio from a single source, they will be working together more closely with the Bosch subsidiary ETAS in 2022.

At Bosch, IOT technology services are offered by specialist subsidiaries.

Commitment in the consortium

In recent years, Bosch has developed a variety of connected services for vehicles and offers a wide portfolio for automakers and mobility service providers. The portfolio includes software for control units and in-vehicle computers, connectivity software for telematic units, vehicle-specific cloud solutions for software management, and a variety of domain-specific digital services in the areas of recharging, parking, navigation, and fleet management.

Today Bosch is cooperating with many partners on open source solutions in this field. For further information please visit the Software-defined Vehicle working group of the Eclipse Foundation.