Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Canadian research network to tackle automotive software systems

October 18, 2010
By Mary Del

The Network on Engineering Complex Software Intensive Systems for Automotive Systems (NECSIS) was recently launched at McMaster University’s Innovation Park. NECSIS is a $16.6-million national research network created to tackle the technological challenges related to the growing complexity of automotive software systems.

"Taking a leadership role in this new software engineering network expands McMaster’s contributions to yet another growing area of automotive research, adding to our expertise in hybrid powertrains, material lightweighting, and advanced manufacturing," said Patrick Deane, president and vice-chancellor, McMaster University.

Under this new university-industry R&D collaboration, General Motors of Canada Ltd. and IBM Canada are mobilizing leading software engineers at seven Canadian universities and a Montreal research centre. NECSIS also includes the participation of Malina Software Corp., an Ottawa-based consultancy focused on advanced software engineering methods.

"As a leading supporter of collaborative research in Canada, we have helped build a strong automotive innovation network," said Kevin Williams, president and managing director of GM of Canada. "NECSIS is a key initiative as we re-think the automobile and deploy innovative approaches to develop tomorrow’s technologies."


"In an era where billions of devices are being interconnected to enable intelligent decisions, the time is right to create and to innovate development processes using real-time navigational capabilities that will help build a smarter car," said Bruce Ross, president, IBM Canada. "Together with our partners, IBM is proud to leverage our Canadian research capabilities to invest and to collaborate in this innovation effort as we collectively advance intelligent transportation in Canada."

NECSIS is led by principal investigator Tom Maibaum, Canada Research Chair in the Foundations of Software Engineering at McMaster University, along with co-principal investigator Joanne Atlee, associate professor at the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo. Other universities in the network include McGill University, Queen’s University, University of British Columbia, University of Toronto, and University of Victoria, as well as Centre de Recherche Informatique de Montréal.

Backed by a five-year $10.5-million grant from Automotive Partnership Canada, of which the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is the lead agency, research by NECSIS will focus on the advancement of an emerging methodology called model driven engineering (MDE). MDE reduces the complexity of developing software by focusing on models and their relationships, reflected in the designs, code and documents that developers work with, enabling them to test and verify models even before the code exists.

Functions managed by computer systems in today’s vehicles include braking, stability, safety and fuel systems; systems to reduce emissions; and systems to protect, entertain and communicate with the driver. Hybrid and all-electric vehicles involve even more complex software-based systems.

The network will be based in the new McMaster Automotive Resource Centre (MARC) being developed at McMaster Innovation Park. It is the same facility that will house research initiatives related to new hybrid powertrain and lightweight materials. MARC is being developed as an innovation ecosystem, promoting daily interactions among industry, university and government on market-oriented and industry-driven research.

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