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How Hardware-in-the-Loop Helps in Automotive Testing

By Auto Tech Outlook | Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) in the automotive industry can reduce expenses and deliver a better-quality product.

FREMONT, CA: It is a difficult job to test embedded systems for vehicles. Modern vehicles today can contain up to 100 or more electronic control units (ECUs). Today, ECUs regulate any prominent feature of a vehicle, from acceleration to braking. In addition, not all ECUs are not made by the same company. Thus, it may be hard to begin testing before every component come together in a prototype car, and there may not be sufficient time to fully ensure that the vehicle is ready for the road by that time.

This is where simulation for hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) comes in. In a closed-loop system with components replicated in a virtual world, HIL operates by evaluating ECUs so that they can be fully tested without having the full product available. There are several advantages to testing in this way, which includes speed and cost. It can also offer a way to shift-left, or start testing faster, thereby ensuring that they have the time to run the crucial tests until the development process is too late.

How Hardware-in-the-Loop Works

In the production process, HIL technology is integral to achieve the objective of distinguishing the hardware during the manufacturing process from the OS and the device layers. When they communicate with real

-life objects, like an ECU, a mechanical unit, or test benches, HIL operates by simulating one or more components. Such interaction is critical between the simulated components and the actual devices.

Under real-time conditions, both components will need to communicate with each other. Inability to do so would lead to an unstable simulation that could have a range of adverse effects, from unsatisfactory outcomes to potentially even destroying the ECU they are testing.

Benefits of Using HIL Technology

The technology of HIL can minimize costs and delivering the highest quality product. It lowers costs by shifting practical experiments to the HIL laboratory, which is much easier to operate, away from test drives and test benches. In addition, the testing time required for expensive prototypes or test benches would be reduced.

Another advantage of using a HIL laboratory would be that all the experiments could be replicated as often as necessary. It also suggests that automation would be much simpler, which may not be the case for real-world prototypes. The laboratories will also promote the simulation of real-life conditions that could be much too risky for a prototype to conduct, like high-speed sudden braking tests.

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