National Instruments embraces automotive electronics developers

National Instruments embraces automotive electronics developers

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

A driving factor in the development of electric vehicles are government requirements to reduce pollutant emissions in traffic. These requirements increase the pressure on car manufacturers to bring EVs to market as quickly as possible. For powertrain test engineers, moving to EVs means new and evolving technologies with rapidly changing test requirements in very tight schedules.

NI enables engineers to modify and extend test systems faster and more efficiently than with traditional fixed test systems from turnkey suppliers. This approach can help shorten time to market by flexibly scaling system performance and changing the I/O mix to respond to rapidly changing test requirements. NI’s HIL systems are built according to a reference test architecture based on methods applied and recommended by leading OEMs. The company’s EV reference architecture optimizes the HIL test of powertrain power electronics such as traction inverters, DC/DC converters and chargers by providing standard starting points for a number of key vehicle development tasks. These include power electronics integration, I/O mapping and signal conditioning, sensor and load emulation, error injection, test sequencing, and last but not least, result logging.

Powerful EV-HIL systems require the coordination of several suppliers. NI works with companies such as Canadian real-time simulation specialist OPAL-RT Inc., who offers an advanced eHS solution system and an electrical machine library for seamless, precise model integration. Integrating OPAL-RT models into the test system can help shorten test development times while increasing result resolution, helping customers achieve shorter design cycles, and gaining better insight from test data.

NI also invests in toolchain integration within the HIL workflow to ensure optimal interaction of the best tools for customers. To this end, NI has established a joint venture with the embedded systems specialist ETAS. This JV, ETAS NI Systems GmbH & Co. KG focuses on the provision of preconfigured HIL systems.

The JV, which will commence operations at the turn of the year, develops prefabricated HIL systems that can shorten development cycles and test times. ETAS’ expertise in the development and integration of HIL solutions combined with NI’s software-defined platform and comprehensive I/O capabilities will allow test teams to benefit from both existing approaches. The pre-integrated systems can be quickly configured from a common infrastructure to meet specific customer requirements. Because they are built on the NI platform, test equipment can be cost-effectively adapted over time to keep pace with technological changes.

The NI reference architecture for EV testing and NI’s investments in workflow integration optimize the HIL test for fast-moving new technologies with rapidly changing requirements. NI’s flexible, custom systems help validation teams keep pace with the rapid pace of innovation in the automotive sector by shortening test development time and increasing test coverage.

NI also introduced a Vehicle Radar Test System (VRTS). Radar sensors in the 79 GHz range are among the most widely used vehicle sensors. Although their high bandwidth of 4 GHz enables high resolution and accurate determination of distance and speed, they pose major challenges for the test systems. This is because the high bandwidth generates a corresponding amount of data that needs to be processed. This requires additional processing resources and a larger number of test scenarios as more objects can be detected. NI’s VRTS simulation capabilities allow engineers to refine and improve their tests. NI’s new VRTS is capable of simulating two objects per angle with a highly repeatable radar cross section (RCS). With the RCS, the simulated obstacle can be used for both validation and production testing. As part of the NI platform, VRTS builds on the long-term flexibility, scalability and cost efficiency of the company’s software-defined systems and helps the user to create more accurate test scenarios and achieve shorter test set-up times. In addition, the VRTS is both cost- and space-optimized for large production environments.

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