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Then you fly an airliner into the ground and it's not cool anymore. Eventually there will be enough high-profile incidents that companies will start to take code quality seriously again
i would say unlikely. at least from my vantage point in the automotive space.
the prevalence of OTA updates and cost of rapid development conitnuing to go down... the boeing example is interesting, but i think proves that you cant let companies self certify, no matter how large they are. i doubt it does anything, or much, to boeings development process other than changing how the certification and sign off gets done. i wouldnt expect them to slow or pull forward any of their s/w development.
 

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i would say unlikely. at least from my vantage point in the automotive space.
the prevalence of OTA updates and cost of rapid development conitnuing to go down... the boeing example is interesting, but i think proves that you cant let companies self certify, no matter how large they are. i doubt it does anything, or much, to boeings development process other than changing how the certification and sign off gets done. i wouldnt expect them to slow or pull forward any of their s/w development.
But the whole auto industry, and most industries, basically "self certifies" right now. Nobody is looking at their code until an incident happens and regulators start investigating.

You may be right that in practice this will never change, which is one reason why I left that field, for the time being at least. It was constant, needless chaos because people couldn't be bothered to plan ahead, develop specs and think through what they were doing. I still managed to produce high-quality stuff most of the time, but I had to basically build a fortress around myself to be able to do that, and over time it became mentally exhausting to maintain that. It's sad because the original idea of "agile" was basically valid: you can never nail down the exact requirements before writing the first line of code, so you need a process for handling iterative changes. Somehow that got corrupted into "ship any old junk and fix it when someone complains".

-Andrew L
 

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I think it's more of a cultural issue than a dollars-and-cents issue. Often it ends up taking more time to fix the half-baked junk that launched prematurely and deal with the mountain of user complaints than it would have taken to do the work correctly in the first place. It's become almost like a macho thing..."I don't need a helmet to drive that race car", etc. Then you fly an airliner into the ground and it's not cool anymore. Eventually there will be enough high-profile incidents that companies will start to take code quality seriously again, but it's fairly stupid that we let a bunch of dot-com web programmers drag the engineering field down this path.

-Andrew L
The 737Max debacle hurt Boeing a “little bit,” for sure. $2.5B in liabilities and a few more billion in lost productivity. But even so, I don’t think it hurt them bad enough to avoid a repeat of such mistakes. For sure not that exact mistake, but I mean similar mistakes.

Lessons are short lived. There’s no new problems, only new engineers (and business managers). There is always incentive to push limits of what is “acceptable” risk. Which means businesses occasionally trip and fall over that boundary line. After all, how do you know where the limit is if you never cross it?

This peak-seeking behavior is normal. But what society must do is decide how to best regulate and manage the risk overall. Right now, the balance of power on such decisions is in favor of the businesses and lobbyists who work for them.
 

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I think you may be oversimplifying the situation. I think VW does realize the ID3 approach isn't ideal and fully intends to create a full stack operating system. They've actually already said so with their leaders speaking of Linux based VW.OS but admitted it won't be fully integrated across the VW model line until 2025. I think what's interesting is that VW is trying to do this all in-house whereas other manufacturers are still partnering up with tech companies like Benz. Everyone seems to be eager to give up a peace offering to the market until they can roll out their full fledged efforts.
Mainstream automakers had a decade to look at what Tesla was doing with R&D of EV's and realize that the current model of leveraging tier 1 suppliers for both R&D and manufacturing of control units, then trying to bring all of the disparate pieces together and have them function seamlessly, wasn't the way forward given the complexity of bringing so many systems together. VW is simply the most visible example of failure so far.

Look at the prior thread on the Mk8 Golf for more evidence from people working in industry (including a powertrain systems engineer) about how mainstream manufacturers continue to disinvest in in-house software/hardware development (Mercedes in particular, as stated earlier in this thread). VW seems to be pivoting rapidly from this failure, and that's good--I sincerely wonder if that will be a broader industry trend, though.
 

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Part of the problem, however, is that the easy accessibility of OTA updates, coupled with the "hurry up to market" mentality that Tesla has fully embraced from Tech Culture, means that you are less likely to have rock solid code when you walk out the door into production. You're going to have more bugs, safety issues and potentially lost performance because of the speed and lack of real consequence for "fixing it in post."

How many vehicle software updates did Chevy need to make in the last ten years for, say, the Cruze? How many for the Cavalier in the 90s?
How many has Tesla (admitted) to issuing for the Model 3 since it's debut?

I am very much in favor of cramming technology into modern vehicles; I think it makes them better vehicles.
But vehicles are not cell phones, and we shouldn't embrace the "fix it in the field later" mentality of consumer electronic devices when it comes to cars. A recall, or an OTA update for safety or bug fixes, should hurt for a company to issue.
That just isn't a valid comparison. A Cruze is about as sophisticated as my cordless drill in comparison to a current-gen Tesla. (I was going to say my thermostat, but it's an IoT device that updates itself automatically...)

Yes, vehicles need to be appliances. So do mobile devices, if we are honest. Apple is successful because they ship devices with a user experience that nails the typical user scenarios; but also because the hardware/software is generally reliable out of the box, and the OTA update process is almost always seamless.

Vehicles are becoming little more than rolling technology platforms, and that manufacturers must be ready to provide both rock-solid reliability out of the box as much as possible (because it's what buyers expect) and a way to update them for whatever bugs/issues are found, and/or to increase operating reliability under certain conditions (not focusing on delivery of potential feature updates/efficiency and/or performance improvements).
 

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On the one hand, one could argue that’s by design. Planned obsolescence. On the other hand, one could argue that Level 4 BEVs with OTA update capability will have a longer service life with fewer interruptions than just about any other car then and now. Remote health monitoring and diagnostic capabilities, automatic scheduling of service, and the car driving itself to a repair shop (if possible) or automatic retrieval via automated tow truck or even mobile repair units that come to you will make it easier than ever to coordinate service and minimize disruption.
Agreed. We are already seeing this in other industries. For instance: There are residential HVAC systems that are IoT enabled, allowing installers to both more accurately move through initial installation (ex: how much refrigerant the system requires) as well as allowing either the homeowner and/or installer to monitor system performance, going so far as to transmit diagnostic information that can allow the installer to arrive at the home with the necessary replacement part(s), reducing cost of the repair call.

The controller for our PV solar array will also do this.
 

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On the one hand, one could argue that’s by design. Planned obsolescence. On the other hand, one could argue that Level 4 BEVs with OTA update capability will have a longer service life with fewer interruptions than just about any other car then and now. Remote health monitoring and diagnostic capabilities, automatic scheduling of service, and the car driving itself to a repair shop (if possible) or automatic retrieval via automated tow truck or even mobile repair units that come to you will make it easier than ever to coordinate service and minimize disruption.
Valid points. The business model is to sell hardware and to invest in vehicle longevity is to alter their gain in profits. The one-chip-mindset of many manufacturers is very cost effective and promotes fluid usability to the UI for now, but being electronic enthusiasts we understand that the demands of newer programmings will not be handled with fair ease 8-10 years from now.
 

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Vehicles are becoming little more than rolling technology platforms, and that manufacturers must be ready to provide both rock-solid reliability out of the box as much as possible (because it's what buyers expect) and a way to update them for whatever bugs/issues are found, and/or to increase operating reliability under certain conditions (not focusing on delivery of potential feature updates/efficiency and/or performance improvements).
I don't disagree that OTA update capability is where everyone needs to be eventually. My original point was that given the scope of what VW was trying to tackle in a short timeframe with the ID project, the OTA capability seems secondary to the basic task of making an affordable EV that's well-packaged and meets people's needs in the mainstream market. That part is hard enough. If they had hit the nail on the head with an excellent dedicated-EV platform and powertrain, the full Tesla-level tech capabilities could have come in the next generation or refresh. Remember, for the EU market, VW's volume sales won't be in direct competition with the Model 3. Europe is full of small cars that sell for much less than anything Tesla makes. Those buyers will need to go somewhere as the EU moves towards the phase-out of combustion engines. The ID lineup is (or should be) more about fully replacing models like Golf and Polo over the next decade or so.

As for the stuff about programming culture...OTA updating is fine if you're not using it as an excuse to launch with bad code. There are always valid reasons to push out updates...that's the part of agile that actually makes sense. But in the absence of OTA updating, you should still be able to give the customer something that works when the car goes on sale. I sometimes get a whiff of the "ship now, fix later" attitude from Tesla, and I don't love that, because I know how stupid things can get if you go too far down that path.

-Andrew L
 

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Discussion Starter #49
I understand people like to look at Tesla as if they're the gold standard. But, right now, they simply dominate the EV market. Over time, other standards will emerge. We've seen that in tech where you have Apple (vertical integration) vs Microsoft/Google (major supplier with thousands of OEMs). Both have their advantages and both are thriving. There's even a third way, Samsung, where they do both. Right now, VW has the money to try different things to see what works. Who knows, they may buy a Tier 1 supplier and bring their expertise in house. Or a software and/or hardware supplier may come to dominate. It's obvious Tesla has gone the Apple route but simply copying that model has disadvantages because you no longer have first mover (namely time and investors' money) edge. Also, investors may be unforgiving since Tesla is sucking a lot of energy out of the room (look at their stock price). But, IMHO, this is an issue for newcomers. Some of the established OEMs are working with their suppliers and other OEMs to get their EV programs up and running. The other issue we all hear about but don't take seriously because they sound so far into the future are the hodgepodge of incoming bans on ICE vehicles. Once the Feds get behind that who knows what'll happen. It'll be interesting to see how this all shakes out.
 

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Hydrogen is the future.

OTA fixes are not tenable. As a lawyer i would imagine brands are being advised to keep that to a minimum since - much like any other type of engineering - the brand can be held very liable for them. Can you imagine a fleet of cars getting the OTA upgrade and 5,000 cars simulatenously brick when the owners start them for work. Becayse those cars have a discontinued feature that caused the whole code not to run

cars are not phones. They can kill very easily quickly with no warning.
 

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Hydrogen is the future.

OTA fixes are not tenable. As a lawyer i would imagine brands are being advised to keep that to a minimum since - much like any other type of engineering - the brand can be held very liable for them. Can you imagine a fleet of cars getting the OTA upgrade and 5,000 cars simulatenously brick when the owners start them for work. Becayse those cars have a discontinued feature that caused the whole code not to run

cars are not phones. They can kill very easily quickly with no warning.
Oh you’re here too. Ignoring the hydrogen quip, which is baseless both physically AND physically..

what’s the fundamental liability difference between an OTA update and a mandatory software update recall that must be performed at a dealer?
 

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Everyone keeps talking about software.... but how is a pure EV more complicated software wise than say, a plug in hybrid? I think VW has software/tech issues in its EVs, but they are not related to the EV drivetrain.
 

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I don't disagree that OTA update capability is where everyone needs to be eventually. My original point was that given the scope of what VW was trying to tackle in a short timeframe with the ID project, the OTA capability seems secondary to the basic task of making an affordable EV that's well-packaged and meets people's needs in the mainstream market. That part is hard enough. Those buyers will need to go somewhere as the EU moves towards the phase-out of combustion engines. The ID lineup is (or should be) more about fully replacing models like Golf and Polo over the next decade or so.
I agree that VW had an opportunity to do this right from job one, and unfortunately their culture/thinking and existing R&D/production model prevailed. I disagree that OTA updates should not be part of new vehicles going forward from job one. There will always be opportunities to update/improve existing code in vehicles as sophisticated as these are, vs. bringing each car into the dealership to plug it in (which actually requires the owner to make time to do that, and sucks up dealership time). As EV's become more prevalent, dealership service departments will become less necessary.

As for the stuff about programming culture...OTA updating is fine if you're not using it as an excuse to launch with bad code. There are always valid reasons to push out updates...that's the part of agile that actually makes sense. But in the absence of OTA updating, you should still be able to give the customer something that works when the car goes on sale. I sometimes get a whiff of the "ship now, fix later" attitude from Tesla, and I don't love that, because I know how stupid things can get if you go too far down that path.

-Andrew L
Agree that the vehicle should work right out the door, and unfortunately in VW's case what is described in multiple articles about their leadership culture/conventional thinking around R&D and manufacturing caught them out, rendering them unable to deliver a vehicle that is consistently reliable--not to mention that they didn't deliver the feature set promised to customers at initial sale.

I don't think this is solely due to bad code in VW's case; it appears that VW lacked the internal technical leadership to fully understand what was being built, and what the issues were. I also have lived with a software dev for 15+ years in addition to working in tech companies for a good deal of that time. All products ship with some bugs. It's a question of whether they ship with bugs that are known to cause breaking issues for certain clients, on certain hardware/software combos, and/or under certain scenarios.

Agile can be used effectively; unfortunately, too many orgs allow the product and sales teams to run rampant, causing major issues with what gets built, tested, and shipped in each release. Not all companies do this, though.
 

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Oh you’re here too. Ignoring the hydrogen quip, which is baseless both physically AND physically..

what’s the fundamental liability difference between an OTA update and a mandatory software update recall that must be performed at a dealer?
A dealer is probably not going to let you drive home if the software update hangs or the car bricks. I know a lot of people here disagree with me but I think OTA is a silly idea born out of necessity (because Tesla lacked infrastructure to service its cars initially) that has become the tail that wags the dog as other car companies try to copy Tesla.

OTA is fine if you are updating Sirus subscription codes or simulated engine noises. It's not a good idea if you are updating core functions of the car like self-driving codes, braking or other safety features. It's a recipe for disaster and Tesla has set a very dangerous precedent of this cavalier attitude towards OTA updates that is going to eventually invite a lot of regulatory oversight.

Everyone keeps talking about software.... but how is a pure EV more complicated software wise than say, a plug in hybrid? I think VW has software/tech issues in its EVs, but they are not related to the EV drivetrain.
I know right? We are talking about a company that wrote a software so effective in cheating on emission test that it went undetected for almost a decade.

VW can write software. The issue with ID.3 is more on getting everything integrated and synced up because so many aspect of designing and building the car had changed from business as usual.
 

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Everyone keeps talking about software.... but how is a pure EV more complicated software wise than say, a plug in hybrid? I think VW has software/tech issues in its EVs, but they are not related to the EV drivetrain.
Plug-in hybrid is probably THE most complicated possibility, because not only do you have all of the emission control considerations of the combustion engine plus all of the recharging and regenerative-braking and battery-management considerations of the EV, you also have to blend both of them so that it works as an integrated package.

Connecting a battery to a VFD with regeneration capability to a motor is not hard. Managing the VFD in torque mode with input from driver-request and cruise control and stability control etc is no different from managing a combustion-engine in torque mode. The EV doesn't have to deal with emission control because it doesn't have any, and it doesn't have to deal with transmission shift strategy because it doesn't have one. Someone mentioned how much more efficient Teslas are because of their drives and motors ... that should be a small part of it, electric motors driven by a VFD are mid-nineties percent efficient and the difference between the best ones and the average ones is splitting hairs.

Battery management down to the cell level on an EV is complicated. Come to think of it, it really isn't complicated but it's a simple thing multiplied several thousand times, and that adds up.

Climate control and battery thermal management is much more complicated with an EV if you want to do it as efficiently as possible, which you do. Tesla has an advantage here. Their "octo-valve" and heat pump system are a very clever design taken together, and it shows that someone was looking at the overall system level. The "octo-valve" allows Tesla to handle the most common climate control + battery temp management scenarios as efficiently as possible without throwing out surplus heat and without using the heat pump more than necessary.

The "self driving" ... the safety systems ... ABS/ESP ... etc are all independent of powertrain.
 

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The "self driving" ... the safety systems ... ABS/ESP ... etc are all independent of powertrain.
yes and no, and it depends on how their architecture was designed from the get-go. they should be, but thats not always the case. certainly not at all legacy automakers.
and tesla coming in with a mind toward integrating all of these systems, and not having a legacy architecture or platforms to support, may have helped them streamline that.
 

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From what I remember, the ID3's software issues were things like the infotainment system crashing. Obviously if that's more integrated with all the other systems in the car, there's added complexity and opportunity for faults. But it sounded like the problems were isolated to infotainment interface type issues, thankfully. Unfortunately we already see that people will conflate the two through false causation, which will undermine the public's faith in EVs.

This is a real do or die moment for VWAG, and I'm honestly not sure how it's going to go. I'm not even sure why they overhauled their infotainment/controls like this.
 

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ID3 evidently goes beyond touchscreen, and interprets gesture motions near some of the controls (and I've read some reviews in which the reviewer hated this, and I can see why that would be a problem).

Why does it have to be that way ... ? ? ? There's no need for it and I doubt if anyone was asking for them to do that!

Stop. Doing. Stupid. Stuff. that no one was asking for, and I'm sure half their problems would never have come up in the first place!
 

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No one has mentioned (I don’t think) the overall electrical architecture underpinning the ID3. Its completely different than anything else VW has one. Plus, there is the matter of opening what were previously closed modules up to communicate centrally with OTA capabilities. That’s enormously different for VW.

Imagine a flash for the power window module that takes out the reverse lights. Or defroster.

Tesla cracked this earlier on for sure but did so with a bunch of consumer grade electronics. Note the latest flap over the Model S screen.

The other OEMs use specialized (i.e. ruggedized auto grade) components, which means specific suppliers and for now specific integration. Let’s also recall that other OEMs need to support ICE vehicles that will use completely different architectures. Think of the teams.

In short, it’s clear why Tesla is ahead. They made good choices out of necessity. As for the future, I wouldn’t bet against VW.
 
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