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Phil Koopman: Two Sides of the SDV Coin

Phil Koopman, professor at Carnegie Mellon Univ., weighs in on the SDV by asking his signature question: #didyouthinkofthat?
Phil Koopman: Two Sides of the SDV Coin

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By Junko Yoshida

Phil Koopman, professor at Carnegie Mellon Univ., is the guest on Episode 3 in our weekly “Dig Deeper on SDV” series of video podcasts.

This episode is a “must-see” scheduled to air at 9:00AM PT, Wednesday, June 12.

Koopman, best known for his expertise in autonomous vehicle safety, teaches embedded system design and leads research on safe and secure embedded systems. 

He weighs in on the SDV by asking his signature question: #didyouthinkofthat?

Think of delivering over-the-air software updates not just to a few, but to a million cars, he says. Out of a million, some cars are sure to encounter “a weird situation” — difficult to anticipate by vehicle engineers, Koopman suggests. When that happens, what’s your strategy?

In this video podcast, Koopman sets out the biggest challenges car OEMs will face in designing software-defined vehicles.

Automakers have always played a key role as system integrators. “They plug the boxes together with some wires between them … and they control the interface document,” Koopman notes. But with SDVs, they “need to connect and integrate pieces of software.” In his view, this challenge changes the whole ballgame. When pieces of software sharing the same resource start to abuse the resource, the consequences can affect the performance, or even the safety, of an entire vehicle.

Cost of software to OEMs
With SDVs, car OEMs can no longer neglect the cost of software, Koopman warns. “Carmakers must develop software, update it and maintain it.” None of this is trivial. 

Our discussion with Koopman prompts us to ask lots of questions. Who decides when to do an OTA? Who owns the software? Would SDV technology tempt vehicle designers to rush out half-baked software, on the presumption that it can always be updated later?

As we talk to many companies about SDV, they all  say that they are beefing up their software engineering teams.

Great.  But what’s their definition of “software engineers”?

Koopman makes clear that software engineers aren’t about someone “slinging code.”

He insists that “competent software engineers” must be able to “break big pieces [of software] into small pieces in a sensible way with clean interfaces,” and “specify the interfaces.” They should be able to “look at the dependencies, manage and allocate the requirements and look for inconsistencies and conflicts.” 

Koopman’s role in Episode 3, which he handles in a genial, engaging conversation, is to articulate both sides of the SDV coin.

Click the button below to register for Phil Koopman’s “The Two Sides of the SDV Coin” episode, scheduled at 9:00AM PT, Wed., June 15. If you can’t be there for live broadcast? No worries. Register here to receive the on-demand playback link.

Our previous episodes on this Dig Deeper on SDVs series are now available for on-demand playback.

Phil Amsrud, associate director, Automotive, S&P Global Mobility, set the stage with an overview of software-defined vehicles, including solutions to mysteries like: What is it? Who’s it for? and Why do we need it?
Episode 1Plabyback for Episode 1

Jack Weast, Intel Fellow and VP and GM at Intel Automotive, discuss why Intel is back in the automotive market, and how the processor giant believes it can leverage its data center experience to SDVs. Episode 2 is a unique opportunity to hear from Weast, who’s now shepherding Intel’s global automotive business from Beijing. 
Episode 2: Playback for Episode 2

Junko Yoshida is the editor in chief of The Ojo-Yoshida Report. She can be reached at

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