General Motors has announced Ultifi, its end-to-end software platform designed to merge new in-vehicle experiences with consumers’ “digital lives.” According to GM, Ultifi will enable the frequent and seamless delivery of software-defined features, apps, and other services to customers over the air. In essence, Ultifi has the potential to initiate more cloud-based services, facilitate faster software development, and create new opportunities to increase customer loyalty.
“GM has decades of experience writing vehicle software, creating a solid foundation to build on,” said Mark Reuss, GM president. “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.”
Ultifi extends the GM Vehicle Intelligence Platform (VIP), the automaker’s advanced electrical architecture. As described by GM, VIP-enabled vehicles are meant to provide over-the-air capability, more data bandwidth, robust cybersecurity, and faster processing power. On top of this foundation, GM engineers will separate essential software into a new centralized layer that acts as a hub for vehicle systems. The Ultifi platform will then enable accelerated development and deployment of software and applications over the air to customers without affecting basic hardware controls.
Safety & Convenience Features
According to GM, Ultifi’s cloud-based connectivity could enable facial recognition to start the engine for added security. For parents, the teen driver settings could be changed to allow for more safety in school zones or similar high-traffic areas. In terms of convenience, Ultifi could pair with smart home applications to adjust the thermostat or turn on the entry lights before an owner arrives. Similarly, Ultifi’s capability could potentially extend to V2X or vehicle-to-everything applications.
GM said that, like smartphones today, customers can expect regular updates and the ability to choose from a number of personalization options and apps (although GM noted that some updates and features would carry an additional cost). Likewise, some upgrades can be transferred via a subscription-based model between similarly equipped GM vehicles if a customer happens to own more than one. GM is hoping such capability will help reimagine the vehicle ownership experience.
Though Ultifi is an in-house platform, it’s being imagined with external developers in mind, said GM. It uses Linux software, which allows the automaker to give authorized third-party developers access. GM added that Ultifi is enabled by hardware built into select next-generation products starting in 2023. That move will include both internal combustion and electric vehicles.
“Increased flexibility and faster software development are two major benefits of this new technology,” said Scott Miller, GM vice president, Software-Defined Vehicle. “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.”