Toyota to Launch its ‘Arene' Vehicle Operating System in Models by 2025
For the past several years, Japan's Toyota Motor Corp has been developing its own automotive operating system called "Arene", which can handle everything from basic vehicle functions to advanced applications like autonomous driving. As development on the platform continues, Toyota has plans to put its Arene operating system (OS) into its vehicles by 2025, news outlet Nikkei reported.
Modern vehicles are becoming more like smartphones on wheels, which can be updated via over-the-air software. Toyota's Arene OS will power advanced vehicle features. However, Toyota envisions a future where third party services from a variety of businesses can be added to a vehicle as easily as downloading smartphone apps.
Toyota's push into vehicle software follows pioneer Tesla, which was the first company to offer software-based vehicles that support OTA updates. Now other automakers are planning to build their own software powered vehicles, including Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen and General Motors.
Software defined vehicles can also provide automakers with new revenue streams. Drivers will be able to pay for optional features and upgrades, such as adding valet parking or autonomous driving capabilities to their vehicles delivered via OTA software updates. Toyota is also considering monetizing its vehicle OS through a licensing model, Nikkei reported.
After its launch in Toyota models by 2025, the automaker will make the software available to partners, including Subaru. It will also be offered to startups and other tech companies working on electric or self-driving vehicles.
The Arene Vehicle OS Components
Toyota's Woven Planet Group, which was formed to expand upon the operations of the Toyota Research Institute - Advanced Development (TRI-AD), partnered with Apex.AI on the initial product development cycle for Arene. Apex.AI is a company that is developing scalable software solutions for vehicles. The company is based in Palo Alto CA, Berlin, Munich and Stuttgart.
The Arene ecosystem includes a developer-friendly suite of tools and features to rapidly develop and prototype advanced vehicle capabilities such as autonomous driving. The software stack can seamlessly transition from a desktop, cloud machine running computer simulation or to a vehicle's ECU for on-road testing.
The platform was designed to enable modern software development tools and best practices in the automotive industry, according to Toyota.
Engineers will be able to develop for the OS without waiting for new hardware, and cloud integration will let various teams work in parallel, as well as remotely. The system is intended to allow for simulation and virtual testing of software before its deployed in a vehicle.
The Arene OS will control basic vehicle systems, including steering, braking and acceleration. It will also be able to manage vehicle safety systems, including location and live traffic information. All vehicles with the OS installed, regardless of make or model, will have access to shared functions.
Consumers will be able to update the system like a smartphone, enabling quick improvements to vehicle performance.
Toyota also plans to open Arene to other developers, encouraging companies from outside the industry to create applications for autonomous driving and other functions. Toyota expects that Arene will become a more robust platform as more users and developers join, generating more valuable data that can be used to create new services.
"Arene is our vision for the most programmable vehicle on the planet,'' said James Kuffner, CEO of the Woven Planet Group in April when the collaboration with Apex.AI was first announced. "It enables agile development and deployment for engineers, shortening the time from concept to deployment, and making rapid innovations in autonomous driving possible at the scale of Toyota."
Software-defined vehicles represent the future of the auto industry and other major automakers are developing software defined vehicles.
In September, General Motors announced a new end-to-end vehicle software platform called "Ultifi" that will underpin its future vehicles. The platform will allow GM and its customers the ability to add new vehicle features and functions, as well as personalization options.
Future GM customers will be able to subscribe to or unlock new vehicle features, such as the automaker's Supercruise automated driving feature or valet parking feature. These types of service can either be offered as a recurring monthly subscription or as a one-time purchase.
In June 2020, automaker Mercedes-Benz announced that it's developing an entirely new software-based architecture that supports over-the-air updates for its next generation model lineup. It will be powered by NVIDIA's DRIVE platform. The advanced software-based vehicle architecture will be introduced beginning with 2024 model year vehicles, eventually rolling out to the entire Mercedes Benz fleet globally.
In September, Toyota's Woven Planet announced the acquisition of Renovo, a Silicon Valley-based developer of an agnostic, vehicle operating system (OS). The acquisition of Renovo will allow Toyota to further develop the Arene OS. Renovo's team of engineers have expertise in building a complete software-defined vehicle stack.
Last month, Toyota announced plans to rapidly electrify its model lineup as it looks to catch up with the rest of the auto industry in the EV space. Those plans include a commitment to invest 8 trillion yen (US$70 billion) by 2030. Half of that amount would go towards the development of new electrified models that will run the Arene OS.
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