RTI debuts Connext Drive, an automotive-grade connectivity offering for autonomous vehicle development

Real-Time Innovations (RTI), an industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) connectivity company, unveiled Connext Drive, its solution that provides automotive manufacturers with the software and tools they need to build highly autonomous vehicles and fleets. 

Now, autonomous vehicle makers can innovate and build vehicles without the high risk and cost of in house solutions, nor the difficulty of adapting legacy connectivity. It bridges both research and production technologies, thus supporting development from prototype to end use. Connext Drive builds on proven technology already used in over 200 autonomous vehicle programs around the world, as well as over 1,000 other demanding, real-time, intelligent distributed systems.

Autonomous vehicle connectivity software is challenging and risky. Since they are built from many subsystems, vehicles require full interoperability between components. To provide consistently optimal performance, data must flow correctly, reliably and with extremely low latency. In-house connectivity solutions take extensive time to develop and require technical expertise; developers find these complex and expensive. 

Worse, autonomous vehicle designs must last for years, so automakers must ensure that their systems address connectivity challenges, as well anticipates future challenges. They must also track constantly evolving technology and security requirements. Together, these challenges make connectivity a key cost, challenge and risk point. Developers need a reliable, proven solution.

Connext Drive offers automakers the software they need to operate in diverse real-time environments, interoperate with other systems within the vehicle, connect to off-vehicle systems, evolve systems over time, develop reliable and high-performance systems and build in top security.

RTI Connext Drive brings developers the software and tools they need to build autonomous vehicles and automotive fleets. It includes a native Software Development Kit (SDK) for developing and integrating vehicle applications. It supports software from the research phase all the way through to production. As it is built on the open Data Distribution Service (DDS) standard, it implements “data-centric” connectivity that offers a virtual “distributed shared memory”. This lets advanced algorithms get all the data they need while reducing in-vehicle wiring. 

The DDS standard is specified by all the important automotive ecosystems, including ROS2, AUTOSAR, and several commercial designs. This enables Connext Drive be the initial platform that can integrate DDS, ROS2, AUTOSAR Classic, and AUTOSAR Adaptive, letting OEMs work with the standard (or standards) that best meets their needs at different points in the innovation cycle. Connext Drive is a proven, standards-based solution specifically built for current and future development of intelligent, autonomous vehicles.

“Baidu is developing solutions for autonomous valet parking, fully autonomous mini-buses and more, based on Apollo, a leading global autonomous vehicle technology platform,” said Dounan Wei, commercialization manager at Baidu Intelligent Vehicle Business Unit. “The reason we decided to work with RTI’s technology as the connectivity framework was for the superior reliability, a critical factor in the development of autonomous driving. With Connext, we can guarantee the utilization of bandwidth with TCP + UDP, ensure flexibility through multiple QoS strategies and apply standards-based security and safety. We are looking forward to accelerating innovation in autonomous driving together with RTI.”

RTI recognizes that the QNX Real-time Operating System (RTOS) is an important component for many of our customers who need a highly-reliable safety platform. Together, QNX’s POSIX compliant OS and RTI’s connectivity framework are a complete ‘integration friendly’ stack that can simplify and accelerate software development; and support the level of IP reuse required to be competitive in tomorrow’s connected and autonomous industries. 

The release of Connext Drive will bundle support for Linux and QNX on ARM platforms, making it easier for automotive customers to use the platforms that are most important to them.

“The integration of BlackBerry QNX’s safety-certified operating system with RTI’s data-centric connectivity framework provides a solid foundation on which to base software development for connected and autonomous vehicles,” said Grant Courville, vice president, products and strategy at BlackBerry QNX. “Partnerships like this enable our customers to architect and realize next generation distributed systems.”

“In the automotive industry we are seeing an unprecedented pace of innovation, with fierce competition for investment dollars and the creation of entirely new business models,” said KT Neumann, Automotive Advisory Board Member at RTI. “It is critical to establish partnerships and select market-proven technology that interoperates between all components of the architecture. RTI Connext Drive offers a complete solution for autonomous vehicle development and will help OEMs and suppliers accelerate their time to production.”

“We created Connext Drive to give our customers the tools they need right from the start. Building autonomous vehicles is challenging. Selecting the best framework should be the easiest decision they make,” said Bob Leigh, senior director of market development, autonomous systems at RTI. “We are dedicated to helping our customers solve complex challenges in autonomy with our proven solutions. Our top priority is to provide customers with innovative technology that allows them to build highly autonomous systems, without suffering the high costs, steep time commitment and overall risk of building solutions in-house.”


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