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Introducing Arene

This article is available on the Woven Planet Group account. To keep current with insider insights into the world of mobility, follow our new account!

We want to enable the most programmable vehicles on the planet.

Vehicle software development today is like mobile development was ten to fifteen years ago. Back then, the only people who could program mobile phones were the ones working for the manufacturers. Nowadays, anybody can program a smartphone and most of the apps we use are made by people not affiliated with the company who built the device. Today’s vehicles contain millions of lines of code, but almost all of that is written by OEMs and their suppliers, the only ones who can decipher today’s complicated vehicle architectures. At the same time, there is an increasing number of autonomy and mobility start-ups that have to rely on hacked or custom vehicles to innovate. And these are just the teams that were able to secure enough funding. What about all the other teams out there that have amazing ideas but have given up because the barrier to entry is so high? Imagine if these teams could easily build, test and deploy software to the vehicle in their garage. Or to millions of vehicles in garages all around the world.

Our mission is to open vehicle programming to everyone by simplifying vehicle software development and increasing deployment frequency without compromising safety and security. We believe that this will create a whole new market of vehicle app developers who, through software, integrate a vehicle into our daily lives in novel ways.

To achieve this, we are working on Arene, a platform with state-of-the-art tools, vehicle APIs and safety building-blocks which allow rapid iteration to shorten the time from concept to deployment. They enable developers and OEMs to provide continuous value to their customers through the frequent release of small software increments in an agile way.

Vehicle app development process

t(deploy) - t(design) = O(minutes)

We are creating a new vehicle software development cycle with convenient tooling and automated continuous integration.

Our design philosophy is comprised of four principles:

  • Be opinionated about coding patterns.
  • Make testing and simulation ridiculously easy.
  • Integrate with UX from day one.
  • Abstract the vehicle with an API.

Built on this philosophy, we provide developers with a comprehensive set of tools and services to get their ideas into an actual vehicle.

A Platform For Vehicle Development

Using Arene, developers will be able to deploy the same code to any vehicle running Arene OS, which includes middleware and a hardware abstraction layer (HAL).

Apps can be developed using our IDE which provides tooling and services, including:

  • App SDK: Develop, test and deploy apps to simulation or a real vehicle. Apps can take advantage of computing resources in the vehicle as well as UI components, sensors and modalities.
  • Simulation & testing: Create virtual scenarios with a variety of vehicle models and use our CI and testing pipelines to perform software-in-the-loop- or hardware-in-the-loop-simulation (SILS, HILS).
  • Infrastructure services: Use our cloud-based data pipelines to process and index data through Ansible and Terraform templates that automate AWS sandbox creation.

Tech

Our private alpha release of Arene aims to close the loop from designing a feature to deploying it onto a vehicle through tool automation, thus unlocking a true DevOps-workflow for a team.

To run the SDK, only Docker is required. All tools are pre-installed for the development environment. We want everybody to be able to become a vehicle app developer, so we reduce the need for specialized tools and knowledge by embracing open standards and software. Through vehicle-independent APIs with clear coding patterns we remove the integration and safety guesswork (e.g. between UI and app-logic) and enforce best practices in order to improve testability and safety.

The same code can be deployed to compatible vehicles or simulators using the Arene API.

The API is written in Rust and comes as a pre-compiled C/C++ library (currently built for x86 and arm). It is deployed on an interface-ECU, not a PC inside the vehicle. At present, it can read, write and verify official Toyota CAN messages for a current-model Toyota Prius vehicle and will be extended to support more vehicle models in the future.

Enabling the most programmable vehicles on the planet will be a large undertaking. But the work has already begun and our teams are excited to bundle Arene with the next generation of vehicles to come, so stay tuned!

Authors (in alphabetical order): Hiroko Okuyama, Moritz Scholz, Nikos Michalakis, Paul Sastrasinh

Acknowledgements

Already a lot of work has gone into realizing our vision of the most programmable vehicle in the world. We would like to thank our CEO James Kuffner for guiding us with his vision and our colleagues from engineering, UX, legal, and public relations (in alphabetical order): Aya Usui, Daisuke Nakata, Daniel Hebberd, Jack Yan, Linyu Sun, Takayoshi Nobuoka, Thor Lewis, Samira Emmerson, Shang-Poh Yu, Sho Mikuriya, Yusuke Kinoshita and Yusuke Yachide.

And finally, we’d like to thank our brothers at TRI for their contributions to the cloud infrastructure: Amir Kibbar, Jon Voigt, JP Obley, Mike Garrison, and Peter Richmond.

Join us! 👋

We are actively hiring exceptional talent for the Arene Platform. If you are interested in working with us in our brand-new office in Nihonbashi, Tokyo, please have a look at our current open positions!

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The Tech Blog of The Toyota Research Institute — Advanced Development

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Moritz Scholz

Moritz Scholz

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