GM Readies Comprehensive New Vehicle-Software Platform

Ultifi “end-to-end” software architecture designed to facilitate software-driven features and functionality to continually adaptable to consumer wishes.

Ultifi is designed as an “end-to-end” software solution to facilitate “ongoing relationships” with customers. (GM)

General Motors announced this week that it has developed a new “end-to-end” software platform designed to use over-the-air (OTA) updating capabilities to “connect customers’ digital lives” with software-driven features. Apparently plying on the company’s naming theme for its Ultium electric-vehicle (EV) battery and propulsion systems, the new software architecture is called “Ultifi” and will “roll out in brands in 2023,” said Scott Miller, vice-president Software-Defined Vehicle.

Developed in-house, the Ultifi platform is based on the widely used Linux operating system, which Miller said in a media briefing is “a very common platform that should be natural” for third-party software developers. GM intends to invite developers into its ecosystem in much the same fashion as Apple or Google enable software created by others.

To accept the Ultifi platform, however, the vehicle must be equipped with GM’s recently launched Vehicle Intelligence Platform (VIP) electrical architecture, which currently is fitted to vehicles ranging from the Chevrolet Corvette and various Cadillac models to the company’s new generation of fullsize SUVs. The company expects most vehicles in its portfolio to be using the VIP electrical system by the time the Ultifi platform is ready for deployment in 2023.

And although GM plans to have some 30 EVs on sale by 2025 and has made clear its intention to have an all-EV product portfolio by 2035, Ultifi is not limited to EVs. Miller said the software platform will be available for internal-combustion models, provided they are fitted with the VIP electrical system. He said many non-EV models potentially could be fitted with the VIP electricals in the period GM transitions from internal combustion to electric propulsion.

Flexible features – even dynamics

With Ultifi, vehicle owners will be able to take advantage of wireless software updates that not only will keep software up to date, but enable all manner of features such as personalization choices and service-related notifications; some of the features may also be transferrable between vehicles. The company also expects the cloud-based connectivity to support V2X (vehicle-to-everything) active-safety and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) to improve safety and reduce traffic congestion.

Miller added that Ultifi functionalities might also extend to certain control of propulsion-management or chassis-control systems such as adaptive suspensions. The platform could allow a customer to download a new “performance” tune for an electric propulsion motor or an upgraded algorithm for adaptive dampers. But he did say software adaptability of such systems would not be applied to certain base requirements of propulsion or chassis systems that might affect their function in relation to regulatory or other requirements. Miller also mentioned certain safety and convenience features such as automatic enabling of rear-door child locks if the in-cabin cabin recognizes children in the back seat, or automatic closing of a sunroof if rain is detected.

Miller called Ultifi a modality for “an ongoing relationship” with the customer. He also promised that GM intends to maintain its reputation for “strict and responsible data practices” in relation to how the Ultifi platform’s capabilities will be exploited to deliver data back to the automaker or other involved parties. “Everything is going to be the customer’s choice,” he asserted.