Mercedes-Benz, who are aiming to be a leader in both electric driving and vehicle software, have announced the company had invested more than €200 million (£167/$218) in its Electric Software Hub at the Mercedes Technology Centre (MTC) in Sindelfingen.
Now, 1,100 employees will work cross-functionally under one roof on the electric and digital future of Mercedes-Benz. The new hub sees numerous software, hardware, system integration and testing functions are brought together under one roof.
From 2025, all new vehicle architectures from Mercedes-Benz will be exclusively electric. The company is taking a holistic approach with regard to vehicle software, ranging from basic research and development to the coding of software.
Around 1,000 new jobs are currently being created for software developers in Sindelfingen, with up to 2,000 more jobs currently being added in the global R&D network.
Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Chief Technology Officer responsible for Development and Procurement, said: “The Electric Software Hub is an epicentre of our research and development and at the same time closely networked with the worldwide production sites.
“This is where key aspects of the future of Mercedes-Benz become reality – especially our own MB.OS operating system. Cars are among the most complex products in general.
“The hardware and software are decoupled and must work together perfectly. We ensure this in the Electric Software Hub. It is our software integration factory.”
The idea of the hub is to help with faster and more efficient development of electric vehicles (EVs) and their related software.
The upper floors of the hub house the software code creation and pre-integration labs. Here, the experts first use virtual technologies and simulation to test whether the various software components interact correctly with each other and whether the vehicle functions are implemented correctly.
The drivable prototypes will be located on level 4 with retreat areas grouped around meeting rooms. This enables the teams to evaluate together immediately the data obtained during the tests.
Since the entire building is networked via fibre optic technology, the enormous amounts of data generated during these tests can be read in a short time. The production stage and start-up validation are also fully integrated into the building.
With the initial start-up of the electrics/electronics (E/E) of the prototypes and a successful maturity-level management system, the Mercedes specialists subject the entire development process to a constant reality check.
They also validate the subsequent series production process, including testing requirements and procedures, in the Electric Software Hub. Here, the development pre-integration works hand in hand in one building with the production E/E integration centre, from the component to the vehicle.
The three lower levels are specially designed for laboratories, workshops and test benches. This is where the diverse global challenges that Mercedes-Benz vehicles have to meet can be reproduced.
The vehicle test benches allow tests at temperatures from -30 to +50 degrees and speeds of up to 155mph (250kph). In addition, the Electric Software Hub has 250 charging points. This means that a large number of different vehicles can be charged simultaneously at any time.
This also speeds up testing and increases the pace of development. There are different charging standards worldwide for the charging infrastructure, which the systems in the Electric Software Hub replicate. This also applies to the particularly fast High Power Charging.
Mercedes-Benz can thus ensure that software, digital applications, electric driving and charging function stable and works correctly everywhere around the globe.
Thomas Strobl, Deputy Minister President of the State of Baden-Württemberg, Minister of the Interior, for Digitalisation and Local Authorities Baden-Württemberg, said: “With the Electric Software Hub, Mercedes-Benz is fully committed to digitalisation and electrification. Here, too, the country and the company are taking a joint approach.
“Digitalisation is changing the world, it is one of the important topics of the future. Only if we are successful here will we shape our future and ensure that we remain attractive and competitive in the future.”
Magnus Östberg, Chief Software Officer of Mercedes-Benz AG, said: “Through the Electric Software Hub, we are able to quickly and safely integrate new software components into a production vehicle in an interactive environment.
“Our global digital hubs develop these independently of location and around the clock. First, we link the software components together virtually. We then test and optimise them for the highest customer demands.
“Our developers can access the flexible and networked test benches from all over the world and test their software on prototypes of the control units. This is then tested with the rest of the hardware in the vehicle and finally checked for suitability for series production and everyday use.
“These endurance tests include exposure to heat, cold and rain. In this process, we work efficiently together in international teams physically as well as remotely in one building. This makes the Electric Software Hub an important building block for the success of MB.OS.”