IAA Cars 2005: Bug-free Automobile Soft- and Hardware

Computer scientists prove for an automatic car emergency call "eCall" that soft- and hardware are guaranteed to be free of design errors — theme of the 2. Saarbrücker IT--Dialogue "The 100% secure car made in Saarland" at the International Motor Show (IAA) Cars 2005 in Frankfurt

Modern cars have more and more electronic components, a lot of them implementing security mechanisms like airbag or ABS. Unfortunately, the number of errors in these systems rises exponentially with the number and complexity of these components. According to the General German Automobile Club (ADAC) a third of all breakdowns result from deficiencies in the electronics, of which about 80 percent are software errors. To avoid the difficult and expensive search for those errors by testing, scientists in the Verisoft project lead by Wolfgang Paul, computer-science professor at Saarbrücken, already start before the actual production begins. They show that the soft- and hardware used in vehicles satisfy exact consistent mathematical specifications. By these means, the absence of logical errors in the design of hard- and software can be proven with a maximum of reliability. Currently no manufacturer or supplier can give a comparable kind of guarantees for any of their products. In order to show the feasibility of their approach, the scientists are investigating an exemplary yet representative setup: eCall is an automatic emergency call, which can save time and life in the case of an accident. eCall has been proposed by the EU Commission to become mandatory from 2009.

In case of an accident the car automatically calls an emergency service and sends the coordinates of the scene as well as further vehicle data. This distributed system comprises a real-time operating system and a fault-tolerant bus. Not only the components have to be proven free of errors, but also all components have to collaborate fault-free.

The latest results of their research will be presented on September, 16th at the International Motor Show (IAA) 2005 in Frankfurt within the scope of the 2. Saarbrücker IT-Dialogue "The 100% secure car made in Saarland".

A system that is provably correct is called verified, and formally verified if the methods used to obtain the results are based on mathematical reasoning. The methods for the formal verification of complex computer systems comprising soft- and hardware are being developed or enhanced to suit industrial applicability by scientists in the scope of the research project Verisoft. Verisoft was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for two years. Due to the success after the first two years, the grant has been renewed for another period of two years and with a budget of 7,3 Mio. Euro.

"So far the industry spends too much time to test computer systems to find mostly small errors. You can compare this with looking for needles in a haystack. With the help of our method we can find any tiny needle in the haystack already during the construction", so Wolfgang Paul. The verification has enormous advantages for the industry. New systems could be developed faster and cheaper. Besides, car manufacturers could avoid expensive call-backs concerning problems with the car's electronics.

Professor Wolfgang Paul from the University of Saarland as well as Professor Manfred Broy from the TU Munich head the research project Verisoft. The academic partners are the University Koblenz, the Technical Universities in Darmstadt and Munich, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), the Max Planck Institute for Computer Science in Saarbrücken, and the Oldenburg Research and Development Institute for Information Technology, Tools, and Systems (OFFIS). Industrial partners are the Infineon Technologies AG, the T-Systems International GmbH, the BMW Group AG, and the AbsInt Angewandte Informatik GmbH.

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The head of the project management of the BMBF-Research Project Verisoft, Tom In der Rieden, will introduce the "Guaranteed bug-free car electronics" on the 2. Saarbrücker IT-Dialogue Automotive Industry at the IAA PKW 2005 (Congress Center Messe Frankfurt) on September, 16th at 11:15h. His talk will be complemented by Dr. Christian Ferdinand, the CEO of AbsInt Angewandte Informatik GmbH, who will talk about execution time and memory consumption of time-critical programs ("Is your program always fast enough?"). For more information, visit the Saarland booth (Hall 4.1, Booth E15). For an appointment in the run-up to the IAA call 0681/302-3585.

The 2. Saarbrücker IT-Dialog "The 100% secure car made in Saarland" is also about photorealistic visualization of automotive models, communication, and driver assistance systems. For the program of the symposium with experts from science and industry visit:


Revision 14 Mar 2006