system, the last thing they want is a software glitch.
At Ford, Joey Oravec is the engineer who keeps that from happening. Oravec, who served as the technical lead for software development on the Sync 3 , had the task of weeding through 750,000 test drives worth of data to find out why a screen may have been unresponsive, or what the root cause of an unexplained system crash was.
“It’s particularly difficult when you have one of those one-in-a-million problems, because you’re trying to pull a needle out of a haystack to understand what happened,” Oravec told Design News . “So we have to expand our scope to extract that needle from the haystack.”
Indeed, expanding the scope is what Orvaec does. Using a high performance computing cluster, Oravec led Ford in an effort cull Sync 3 data from a global engineering test fleet of almost 1,000 vehicles. That’s an unenviable task, given that every Sync incorporates millions of lines of code, and given the fact that Oravec and his team must find the root causes of all problems, and then drive improvements to the code so that it can’t happen again. Moreover, they must do it over and over, repeating the process for every new feature and every new set of problems.
“We need to keep a tight loop, so we can keep innovating [Sync 3] multiple times before it hits,” Oravec told us. “We don’t want to deliver a product to the market, and then have the market test it for us.”
Adding to the complexity is the fact that Ford Sync is virtually universal to the company’s product line. “We make high-end cars, entry-level cars and trucks,” Oravec told us. “And we need to scale and fit those solutions into all of those different kinds of vehicle lines.”
Software and hardware development, however, is no new task for Oravec. He holds a B.S. in computer engineering from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, has worked as an integrated circuit designer, has developed embedded systems, and has been involved with the development of facial and voice recognition systems. He has also participated in Society of Automotive Engineers standards committees to help shape a so-called pass-through systems standard, which enables vehicle electronics modules to be reprogrammed through the OBD (on-board diagnostics) port.
None of his experiences in electronics, however, have posed the kind of challenge that Sync 3 has, he said. Sync 3 development never stops because, unlike a cell phone that gets replaced after only two or three years, Sync must remain intact for the life of a vehicle, which could be ten years or more. The result is that the product is constantly changing and engineers have to support and deliver new features to keep pace with the consumer market.
Ford engineers have managed to accomplish that, however. The company recently rolled out Sync 3 globally to its entire vehicle line in an extraordinary 18-month time span.
Still, the work is never done. “We have 200 markets globally, and we’re putting the infotainment product in all of those,” Oravec