With the objective of growth beyond vehicle sales, General Motors Co. in Detroit announced Ultifi, its end-to-end software platform designed to unlock new vehicle experiences and connect customers’ digital lives to their vehicle.
By enabling the frequent and seamless delivery of software-defined features, apps, and services to customers over the air, Ultifi offers the potential for more cloud-based services and faster software development. The functionality of the new platform builds on GM’s electrical architecture, the Vehicle Intelligence Platform (VIP).
On top of this foundation, GM engineers will separate key software into a new centralized layer that acts as a hub for vehicle systems. It then enables accelerated development and deployment to millions of customers without affecting basic hardware controls.
“GM has decades of experience writing vehicle software, creating a solid foundation to build on,” says Mark Reuss, president of GM. “Now with Ultifi, we will be able to improve our software continuously, and deliver new features and apps to customers in a fraction of the time.”
In a similar way to smartphones and computers, customers will see regular updates and will be able to choose from a suite of over-the-air upgrades, personalization options, and new apps. GM hopes to reimagine vehicle ownership with this customizability, allowing upgrades and settings to be saved on authenticated accounts and transferred between similarly equipped GM vehicles.
“Increased flexibility and faster software development are two major benefits of this new technology,” says Scott Miller, vice president of software-defined vehicles at GM. “Our in-house developers are designing Ultifi to maximize software reuse, which frees up more time to create value-adding features and services for our customers.”
Examples of this include internal cameras that can be used for facial recognition to start the vehicles engine. Teen driver setting could be adjusted for extra caution in school zones based on route planning and GPS features. It would also allow vehicles to communicate with a smart home system to deactivate a security system and adjust the thermostat.
Similarly, the cloud connectivity could potentially extend to vehicle-to-everything applications to help advance GM’s goal of zero crashes and zero congestion. Through communication with other connected devices and infrastructure, drivers could be alerted to hazards or changing road conditions and be able to effectively time traffic signals.
The platform is being designed with external developers in mind by using Linux, one of the most widely used development platforms, allowing GM to grant third-party developers access to create innovations. Ultifi is enabled by hardware built into select next-generation products beginning in 2023 in both internal combustion and electric vehicles.