Software advances drive GKN’s AWD and eDrive leadership

GKN Automotive’s software engineering capability have gone from strength to strength as the company has delivered more fully integrated all-wheel drive (AWD) and electric drive system programmes.


How have software capabilities developed at GKN Automotive?

Software development now accounts for the largest share of the engineering effort for most GKN Automotive projects. The software is the system’s spirit, controlling the torque, creating the drive characteristics and directly influencing the vehicle’s overall functionality.


Having the hardware and software engineering capability in-house enables GKN to deliver systems with more advanced vehicle control functions that go beyond customer expectations. Our active damping function, for example, can compensate for drivetrain oscillations, improving the vehicle’s noise, vibration and harshness characteristics.

How connected are the hardware and software development processes?

The workflow is more sophisticated than most people imagine. We model the system’s physics, simulate the vehicle’s behaviour and then create control algorithms to embed in the microprocessor. We generate the code directly from GKN Automotive’s simulation models.

The Jeep Renegade’s all-wheel drive system required 300,000 lines of code


Our software engineering processes are SPICE accredited and we have an overall average SPICE Level of 2.7. All our software also satisfies either ASIL C or D, the highest levels of automotive safety integrity.

How is GKN’s software development organized globally?

The heart of our software development is still in Europe, supported by rapidly expanding teams in Auburn Hills in the US and Shanghai. Local software engineering capability is becoming more important.

Right now, the drivetrain controller is a separate box. In the future the electronics, sensors and actuators will merge to become a single, complete electronic system. We will need to design our own electronics and integrate them into the hardware.

How long will before Tier Ones ship code instead of systems?

GKN is already managing programs that just deliver the driveline software for global platforms. The hardware doesn’t change. We are upgrading the electronics and adapting the functionality in new software architectures that enable data processing in the cloud and over-the-air updates.