Automotive Standards – from CAN through UDS to ODX and OTX

Today, the auto industry applies standards in many areas that are not subject to competition. These standards come into being in a whole host of ways ranging from casual collaborations through European-based associations (e.g. ASAM) to large standardization organizations (e.g. ISO, SAE).

Using standards results in a large number of advantages, notably considerably shorter development and engineering times as well as much lower costs per unit.

Softing Automotive is an active member of associations and organizations that define market standards.

Benefits of Standardization

The use of standards in non-competition-relevant areas offers numerous advantages across the entire vehicle life cycle, for example:

  • increase in quality
  • far shorter engineering times
  • recyclability of data created
  • much lower unit costs

Data Descriptions

ODX (ASAM MCD 2), OTX, A2L and CANdb

Data descriptions are always standardized when a large number of applications use the same information and several people in several companies exchange information. Similarly, if the information is to be further processed in different ways, it makes sense to apply standards in a structured form. This is the case, for example, when data from specification systems is used for runtime systems and for documentation purposes.

Programming Interfaces

Protocols – KWP2000 (ISO 14230 and ISO 15765), UDS (ISO 14229) and SAE J1939 in use

Standardized programming interfaces are defined with two specific aims in mind: first of all consistent runtime responses of test and diagnostic systems regardless of use and secondly the consistent integration of VCIs (Vehicle Communication Interfaces) in test systems regardless of OEM and test system manufacturer.


KWP2000 (ISO 14230, ISO 15765), UDS (ISO 14229) and SAE J1939 in use

Protocols have always been standardized whenever different test systems (e.g. in brand and independent repair shops) are to access vehicles or different ECUs have to be integrated into subsystems – requirements that are in fact always demanded nowadays!

Bus Systems

CAN, CAN-FD, FlexRay, Ethernet, K-Line, LIN and MOST in use

In addition to access to the vehicle via the diagnostic connector (CAN or K-Line), defined by the legislator, other bus systems have also established themselves as standards in the vehicle. These always focus on special requirements, ranging from inexpensive implementation (e.g. LIN) through high bandwidth (Ethernet) to possible use in security-relevant distributed closed-loop control (FlexRay).

Standardization in Vehicle Diagnostics – Overview

Focus on Quality, Efficiency and Protecting Investments

The use of standards in areas not relevant to competition offers numerous benefits across the entire vehicle life cycle. One of the main advantages of standardizing vehicle diagnostics is much shorter engineering times, in particular through the development of a central diagnostics database (standard: ODX ISO 22901-1, Open Diagnostic Data Exchange). The possibility of reusing data once created in engineering, manufacturing and service, combined with the availability of tools from different manufacturers which are all based on the same data format and have standardized interfaces, greatly simplifies the existing and very often heterogeneous world. It provides an opportunity to set up diagnostic tools on a modular basis throughout the company, which in turn facilitates a high level of recyclability of the individual components in different business sectors. For example, thanks to suitable interfaces, the diagnostics hardware (VCI, Vehicle Communication Interface) is largely interchangeable and can be obtained from different manufacturers for specific applications: e.g. high performance interfaces for manufacturing and low-cost interfaces for after-sales. The overlying diagnostic runtime system can also be purchased from different manufacturers according to performance, standard compliance, flexibility and cost requirements. Standardization therefore makes it possible to reduce unit costs considerably. 

To achieve overarching interoperability and secure our customers’ investments, we at Softing Automotive systematically rely on recognized, international standards. As an active member of the major standardization committees in the field of automotive electronics, such as ASAM, SAE and ISO, we help shape the future of technology. Our customers therefore benefit directly from the effects of standardization.

"Standardization Drives Quality and Efficiency in Vehicle Diagnostics"

Interview with Prof. Dr.-Ing. Goß

Read our paper including an interview with Prof. Dr.-Ing. Goß on current developments in automotive electronics and their impact on standardization in vehicle diagnostics.