Mercedes-Benz Opens its Innovative New ‘Electric Software Hub' in Sindelfingen, Germany
【Summary】Mercedes-Benz is investing billions in electrification, software development, autonomous driving, connected vehicle technology and digital services. An important step towards that goal will be the company’s innovative new Electric Software Hub at the Mercedes Technology Center in Sindelfingen, Germany, which is now officially open.
Future Mercedes-Benz vehicles will be fully electric and software-defined vehicles that are capable of receiving regular over-the-air- software updates just like a smartphone. By 2025, all new Mercedes-Benz vehicle architectures will be electrical.
In order for the automaker to reach its goals, Mercedes-Benz is investing billions in electrification, software development, autonomous driving, connected vehicle technology and digital services. An important step towards that goal will be the company's innovative Electric Software Hub at the Mercedes Technology Center in Sindelfingen, Germany.
The location, which was first announced in June of last year, is now officially open. It will employ around 1,100 cross-functional teams, including software, hardware, system integration and testing functions will be located under one roof to help create the electric and digital future of Mercedes-Benz.
The Electric Software Hub will help accelerate the automaker's transformation as part of its strategic plan to "lead in electric drive and car software".
To date, Mercedes-Benz has invested more than 200 million euros ($217.4 million) in the Electric Software Hub in Sindelfingen.
The Electric Software Hub brings together the two key strategic topics for the future of Mercedes-Benz. The new site will serve as a central software development and qualification hub to ensure everything works correctly.
"The Electric Software Hub is an epicenter of our research and development and at the same time closely networked with the worldwide production sites," said Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Chief Technology Officer responsible for Development and Procurement.
"This is where key aspects of the future of Mercedes-Benz become reality - especially our own MB.OS operating system. Cars are among the most complex products in general. The hardware and software are decoupled and must work together perfectly. We ensure this in the Electric Software Hub."
The new building has 70,000 square meters of space on eight levels. The inside of the Electric Software Hub reflects the entire electrics/electronics integration process of vehicle development.
The upper floors will house the automaker's software code creation and pre-integration labs. Here, engineers will use virtual technologies and simulation to test whether the various software components interact correctly with each other and whether the vehicle functions are implemented correctly. Mercedes refers to this as the "integration step".
The three lower levels of the Electric Software Hub are designed for laboratories, workshops and test benches. This is where Mercedes-Benz vehicle systems can be reproduced and fully tested. The vehicle test benches allow tests at temperatures from -30 to +50 degrees and speeds of up to 250 km/h.
The Hub will also test electric vehicle charging capabilities. The building has 250 charging points that can charge a large number of different vehicles simultaneously. The Electric Software Hub can replicate different types of EV charging infrastructure, including fast, high current charging.
The employees will also ensure that all Mercedes-Benz hardware and software components will work perfectly and seamlessly before production. The engineering teams will also help reduce hardware and software development timelines by using state-of-the-art test technologies for validating electronic components.
Vehicle components and control units for example, will be thoroughly tested fully in a virtual vehicle in a process referred to as "hardware-in-the-loop". In principle, only the electronics with the software to be tested are real, the entire rest of the vehicle as well as the environment are simulated.
In the early phases of software development before the control units are available as hardware that will run it, simulation methods can be used to test the vehicle functions. The process is designed to shorten development times and reach a high level of software maturity as early as possible.
The computer simulation environment also includes what Mercedes-Benz calls a "digital test drive". This involves driving and testing a "virtual vehicle" in a fully simulated environment in the same way a real test drive would be performed, only this "test drive" takes place in a laboratory at the Electric Software Hub.
In addition, the proximity of all test facilities, test benches and software integration, including the vehicle itself, helps to shorten development timelines.
"Through the Electric Software Hub, we are able to quickly and safely integrate new software components into a production vehicle in an interactive environment," says Magnus Östberg, Chief Software Officer of Mercedes-Benz AG.
The Electric Software Hub will also be a comfortable place to work with an open concept design. There is no separation between workshops, laboratories and offices to enable collaborative work without boundaries. Staff members will have access to furnished inner courtyards, which also serve as break areas and additional work spaces.
"With the Electric Software Hub, we are creating the environment for flexibility and creativity. An open room concept, free choice of workplaces and various rest areas indoors and outdoors provide optimal working conditions for our engineers, said Sabine Kohleisen, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, responsible for Human Resources and Director of Labor Relations. "This will allow the approximately 1,100 colleagues in our new building to unleash their full innovative power."
In June 2020, Mercedes-Benz announced a partnership with NVIDIA Corp to develop its new Mercedes-Benz Operating System (MB.OS.) It will give future owners the ability to add new software to their vehicles, keeping them always up to date with new features.
The new software-based vehicle architecture will be introduced beginning with 2024 model year Mercedes-Benz vehicles, eventually rolling out to the entire fleet globally.
Mercedes Benz and NVIDIA plan to develop the most sophisticated and advanced computing architecture ever deployed in the auto industry. The new software-defined architecture will be built on NVIDIA's DRIVE AGX Orin platform, which will come standard in the next-generation of Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
Eventually, every future model globally will come with the advanced and upgradable software-based architecture, from the entry-level A-Class to S-Class models, according to Mercedes-Benz.
These plans mean that the new Electric Software Hub will be one of the automaker's most important global R&D centers.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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