VW and TraceTronic establish a software-integration joint venture

02 August 2021

Volkswagen (VW) has established a 50/50 joint venture (JV) with software-integration company TraceTronic. The new collaborative enterprise, known as neocx, will create a continuous integration/continuous testing (CI/CT) factory.

This platform will carry out automated testing and integration on automotive software and different digital functions. This, in turn, will allow VW to accelerate the development of its own advanced systems.

Work on the CI/CT factory will begin immediately, as the JV plans to grow its workforce to a three-digit figure within the coming years. Additional experts will be recruited to work at neocx’s Dresden and Wolfsburg locations in Germany.

Digital acceleration

At the moment, high-performance automotive functions are built by networking many different individual software and hardware components. This makes advanced features more like a complex freeform jigsaw puzzle. Integrating these software components and the digital customer experience has therefore become a primary focus for VW, as outlined in its Accelerate strategy.

Moving forward, any new or improved digital functions provided via over-the-air updates, for example, will be integrated and tested with solutions from neocx. This makes the JV a key contributor to VW’s development process.

Once developers have designed software for individual components, these artefacts will be integrated and tested in the network. Any anomalies will be picked up by an automated system, allowing them to be rectified and re-integrated. This process then generates information for further development and approval.

Source: VW

‘With Accelerate, we have set ourselves the goal of evolving the car into a software-based product. The safe and efficient integration of software into our vehicles is therefore a critical competitive factor for Volkswagen,’ said Thomas Ulbrich, member of VW board of management overseeing technical development. ‘Our new joint venture, neocx, is a cornerstone in strengthening our expertise in this area so we can offer our customers a first-class digital driving experience.’

Shorter developments and faster updates

The new CI/CT factory will provide scalable development and testing tools as software packages and data volumes in networked vehicles grow exponentially. This means individual technological components can be incorporated into an integrated system at an earlier build stage to assess performance. This could be a huge step forward for advanced features like driver-assistance systems.

Both VW and TraceTronic plan to continually expand the platform’s capabilities. New technologies and test processes from the fields of machine learning, data analytics and scenario-based learning could play major roles in the future. Cloud-based systems will also provide a scalable virtual testing.

Deep digital diving

The automotive sector is undergoing a period of intense digitalisation. Vehicles are now capable of feats once only dreamt of in science-fiction work. But advances like autonomous systems and connectivity are only possible thanks to heavy investment from those carmakers who are rebranding themselves as advanced-mobility providers.

For example, VW benefits from progression made within the wider VW group, including its software company Cariad. Now, neocx will help integrate and test Cariad’s work, and help the German passenger-car brand transform into a software-based mobility provider.

The CI/CT factory might also be used by other group brands in the future, such as Audi and Porsche, who closely collaborate with VW. Standard interfaces will also enable the facilitation of development partners, suppliers, and third-party tools.