Virtual testing: No more bottlenecks in automotive development.
A virtual test environment supports OEMs to develop new car functions and test them almost immediately – no hardware needed.
How to deal with testing complexity and late integration?
The fast development of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), autonomous driving, and electric mobility foster a rapid change of technology and requirements in the automotive sector. That leads to more and more complexity in the long-term process of assembling all relevant hardware to start testing. Also, a huge number of scenarios needs to be tested due to increasing responsibility and power of new ADAS.
Complexity in hardware assembly, plus more testing scenarios: That means increasing testing efforts as well as high costs for the validation and verification of ADAS, autonomous driving and e-mobility functionalities. In practice, a lot of distance must be covered – which can prove difficult, since the cars required to perform a real drive evaluation typically only become available in a late phase of the development process.
Late integration is especially problematic. The complexity of the IT system 'vehicle' is increasing, and so is the complexity of the system integration. A late integration causes a high risk, as changes in this development phase are very likely and usually expensive – e.g. changes at interfaces or in the communication protocol. This already is a common reason for delays during vehicle development.
Virtual test environments make for smoother development cycles
To solve these problems, OEMs are looking for a solution to speed up the integration process. This could be reached by visualisations – detached from hardware prototypes to overcome hardware bottlenecks – which result in earlier adjustments and a smoother development cycle.
The solution is a virtual test environment. It allows to test new functions almost immediately - no hardware nor real-world test set up must be given. 'Together with our customers like Volkswagen (VW) and car.SW Org, we have proven the effectiveness of this method many times', explains Robert Depenbrock, Project Lead Software Development at umlaut. 'We figure out ways and best practices for the evaluation of system components in a virtual or mixed environment on any scale – no matter if it’s single software components or modules, control units (ECU), ECU networks or a complete environment.'
Within this virtual test environment, umlaut gained deep knowledge in the fields of
- Test automation of high-voltage charging: Our focus lies on the system parts that are needed to evaluate the charging procedure of an electric vehicle. Amongst others, this includes the simulation of the charging point and vehicle components including their communication. We integrate virtual ECUs and models. As an example, we created a charging point simulation for all common DC-Charging standards (Chademo, GB/T, ISO15118) using Vector Tools and customer owned behaviour models of the charging points. This simulation provides the ability to test the complex communication and interaction of the vehicle and the charging point.
- Agile development and advanced high-level test automation of infotainment systems: The approach of this test automation differs from most present solutions, as the testing is not based on fixed low-level actions of the driver – like “Press Hard Key ‘Nav’”, but on a higher level – like “activate the navigation application” – leaving details like the “activation method” open for randomization.
- Virtual driver and virtual environment simulation: We create a visualization combining the whole traffic environment, the simulation of single vehicles as well as mass traffic simulation. The huge advantage compared to classic ADAS testing is the randomization of events which enables us to identify blind spots that cannot be revealed in pre-set test scenarios. For example, umlaut creates user stories like Tom, 32 years old, who always performs lane changes without checking for other vehicles.
- Sensor input: From a specified environmental depiction, our umlaut teams generate data that is translated into sensor data, e.g. the radar detects another – simulated – vehicle and the actual distance control software reacts to it. Those kinds of simulation enable us to test locally where otherwise thousands of kilometres and lots of money would be needed. Thereby we can test ADAS software in an early stage.
For the product to be as good as possible
Since this is an early development topic, there are not many requirements for the single parts of the whole testing framework, but the goal is for the product to be as good as possible once it is in use. 'Our teams think of every possible feature and all the abilities that will be needed once the usage starts. Also meaning that OEMs don’t have to tell us what to do, but we define what really needs to be done. And then we do it', Depenbrock underlines. 'Plus, umlaut adds years of testing expertise, which makes us the perfect end-to-end partner from automation to visualization and simulation to the testing of the whole virtual test scenario.'
Our teams understand the goal and intention of our customers and provide flexible support. With their deep virtualization expertise, they familiarise themselves with new topics and blend into new contexts in the shortest possible time, depending on customer requirements. And we adjust our processes to the customer needs – let it be Scrum, Kanban, or any other tool.
Moreover, we adapt to the sped-up technologies of the automotive sector with our ability to change very fast and align our skills and methods to the new needs. Paired with the passion of our teams to realize a change in the automotive world, we support our clients as best as possible to meet the expectations of their customers.
Robert Depenbrock, Project Lead Software Development at umlaut
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