Development brief: “Just an awesome product, please.”
In its collaboration with U.S. west coast-based automakers, Bosch is employing an unusual approach
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Martin Langsch, engineering director at Bosch in the U.S., describes the new kind of development collaboration with west coast-based automakers.
Engineering director Martin Langsch heads a team whose responsibilities include developing the customized software core for the iBooster hardware for customers such as Faraday Future and Tesla. The mechanical engineer joined Bosch in 2002 and has worked at the Plymouth location near Detroit since 2011.
Vision instead of specification
What’s new is that development briefs are now “vision driven.” Instead of detailed specifications, the customer asks Bosch to develop an “awesome” product – simply a “best of breed” braking system. There is no concrete definition of what the end product should look like. Tight timeframes are another aspect developers have had to get used to. For example, Bosch developed a software package in just eight months – instead of the one and a half years it usually takes.
To meet these new requirements, Bosch also employs the scrum product development method. In this method, the Bosch development team meets with the customer team nearly every week to discuss the status of the project. Their objective is to always have a working prototype, a “product of value,” to present. The customer decides if it corresponds to what they were looking for. If so, the team continues working on the prototype. If not, the product is reworked, or the process restarts from the beginning. Using this iterative process lets Bosch achieve a result faster with its customers.
An opportunity to learn together
This method is especially useful if precise objectives have still not been defined when a software development process starts. Due to the nature of the approach, the team may start down one path, only to determine in dialogue with the customer that they’re on the wrong track. For this reason, the development team has to learn to accept failure as a part of daily routine, and as an opportunity to learn. Here, Bosch employs professional methodologists (“scrum masters”), who supervise teams during this process.
Langsch knows that this commitment pays off: “I will never forget the first time I sat in an electric car and experienced the amazing feeling of accelerating from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in under three seconds. It’s more impressive than any conventional sports car.”
More about the iBooster
iBooster – over the air
The iBooster is constantly collecting data about itself — when it brakes, and how. This stored information is transferred once a day over the air to the automaker’s data center. The manufacturer anonymizes the braking data and sends it to Bosch in Abstatt, Germany, for further analysis.
Supporting product development
In Abstatt, the data provides valuable insights regarding the use of the iBooster and its lifecycle – key information for further refining the product. For its part, the automaker can use connectivity over the air to update the iBooster software – making new functions available, for example. “To be able to do this, the automaker has to equip the car with the necessary technology – for example, data storage and an internet connection,” says Martin Langsch, engineering director at Bosch.
In its collaboration with U.S. west coast-based automakers, Bosch is employing an unusual approach. Instead of detailed specifications, the brief is to develop an “awesome” product. To do so, Bosch employs the scrum product development method.