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Automotive Industries spoke to Kevin Kott, president of dSPACE Inc.

Automotive Industries spoke to Kevin Kott

INTERVIEW – The leading producer of engineering tools for developing electronic control units and mechatronic controls, dSPACE, recently introduced two new simulation models to measure the pressure in the combustion engine’s cylinders using variable valve control. The two new products are titled ASM Diesel Engine InCylinder Simulation Package and ASM Gasoline Engine InCylinder Simulation Package. These models use thermodynamic approaches to simulate the combustion process. The models’ combustion behavior algorithms offer real-time performance across the entire engine speed and load range. Special emphasis is placed on real-time measurement and calculation of multiple injections.

In addition, the company says, the new engine models can handle variable valve timing (VVT), variable valve lift (VVL), and the simulation of engines without a camshaft. They also include a longitudinally dynamic drivetrain so that a virtual engine can be simulated realistically in a vehicle environment. “The best possible parameterization is provided by the ASM InCylinder Optimizer, which determines the model parameters by means of test bench measurements and automatically optimizes them. A complete standard parameter set is provided for each model, so they are ready for immediate use,” says dSPACE. 

The company says that the ASM Diesel Engine InCylinder Simulation Package and ASM Gasoline Engine InCylinder Simulation Package are useful for function development as well as for ECU testing with hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulators. As with all ASMs, the models are completely open, and developers can view them right down to Simulink block level. This is the ideal situation for adapting the models to individual requirements. Both models are also available as turn-key solutions together with a dSPACE Simulator.

The Paderborn, Germany-headquartered dSPACE GmbH, was founded in 1988. A few years later in 1991, the company opened its North American subsidiary, dSPACE Inc. The company is an active member of several standardization organizations, including ASAM e.V. (Association for Standardization of Automation- and Measuring Systems), the AUTOSAR development partnership and the FlexRay Consortium. Some of dSPACE’s automotive customers include Honda, ISUZU, Hyundai, Renault, BorgWarner, Bosch, Continental, Volkswagen, AFT, HINO Motors, Ricardo and BMW.

“Twenty years ago, dSPACE started out as a pioneer that attracted a lot of attention. We laid the foundations for key technologies such as rapid control prototyping and hardware-in-the-loop simulation. Today dSPACE is the leading producer of engineering tools for developing and testing mechatronic control systems. With a wide portfolio and cutting-edge technology that make us a popular development partner in the automotive industry, aerospace and industrial automation. We still have that pioneering spirit of the early days — the constant desire to find new ideas leading to innovations that keep us ahead of the crowd. To make our customers even more successful in their own markets,” says the company.

In September this year, dSPACE and electronics visualization developer VaST announced a collaboration in simulating automotive and AUTOSAR-compliant software on virtual hardware platforms. The goal of the collaboration is to closely couple dSPACE’s automotive software development tools TargetLink and SystemDesk with VaST’s virtualization tools COMET® and METeor®.

Users of these tools can replace hardware prototypes with virtual system prototypes to simulate and validate automotive software applications on early in the design flow. The combined development tools provide accurate timing and deeper performance visibility in the hardware and software operations for single or networked ECU systems. Developers can accurately profile and quantify system behavior for time-critical applications. Details such as execution times, scheduling, and interrupt latencies can be analyzed and quickly refined early in the design flow, which results in a much better hardware and software design, says dSPACE.

Automotive Industries spoke to Kevin Kott, president of dSPACE Inc.

AI: Tell us a little about how AUTOSAR and MOST have impacted the automotive electronics and infotainment industry?

AUTOSAR version 3.0 should provide a stable foundation for the management of complex automotive E/E systems. This is most evident within the AUTOSAR initiative itself and the deployment of controls within new vehicles. By 2010, all nine core partners intend to have their first AUTOSAR modules on the market. The newly launched BMW 7 series, for example, already contains some AUTOSAR-software in its body and chassis electronics.

While the full adoption of AUTOSAR will not happen overnight, the standard allows migration paths to ensure the compatibility of old and new systems. After the upfront effort in transition and with expected learning curves, future implementation efforts will be substantially reduced. Introductions of the standard are already yielding savings as re-use of software components are realized.

As the AUTOSAR standard achieves more comprehensive market penetration, higher quality, reduced costs and shortened time to market will be realized. This is expected to be a global movement – European OEMs are leading the AUTOSAR implementation, but U.S. OEMs are following and Asia, particularly Japan, is showing increased interest.

MOST deals with the communication needs of in-vehicle multimedia and infotainment applications – very similar to what CAN, LIN and FlexRay do for other domains of the vehicle. AUTOSAR will have a much wider impact since it is an E/E architecture standard and therefore it will touch every aspect of electronic controls, while MOST is limited to infotainment.

AI: What are some of the challenges facing the automotive software?

In general, the growing complexity of automotive software still represents a major issue to the industry. While the number of electronic control units (ECUs) being added to modern vehicles is not expected to increase significantly, the amount of embedded software inside will grow dramatically over time. Effectively managing the vast number of vehicle functions that are controlled by software and the level of networking required between ECUs to accomplish this represents the real underlying challenge.

The needs for efficient process and shorter development times while providing high quality to the consumer are additional concerns for electronics and software developers.

The integration of new software functions or new electronics into the overall vehicle control system is another problem area. As single functions and individual ECUs are often developed by independent groups – either suppliers or internal departments – errors routinely occur during integration. When first integrating the software onto a single ECU or multiple ECUs, too many errors are being detected by hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) testing. Fortunately, HIL testing has significantly helped to improve quality and to shorten iteration loops for finding and fixing errors. We expect HIL technology to be applied earlier and earlier in the controls development process

AI: How does dSPACE meet these challenges and create solutions?

As mentioned above, we have helped OEMs ensure that software errors do not get into production through a variety of development aids. Our HIL systems have detected thousands of errors and allowed our customers to fix and optimize controls earlier in the development cycle. However, more errors could be eliminated even earlier by more effective development processes.

One of the industry’s best-practices is Model-Based Development (MBD) using automatic production code generation. MBD reduces complexity by allowing the developer to specify the desired functional behavior in a more intuitive way – a visual model.- than traditional source code. 10 years ago, dSPACE introduced our market-leading production code generator TargetLink® to complement our MBD offerings.

MBD has helped to cope with these challenges at the function or component level. But continuing complexity has called for even more extensive solutions that address the architecture level. The AUTOSAR initiative was founded for this reason, and dSPACE has been an AUTOSAR premium member from the start. TargetLink was extended with AUTOSAR capabilities in 2006, allowing users to develop AUTOSAR-compliant software components. In 2007, dSPACE introduced a completely new AUTOSAR-compliant system and software architecture tool known as SystemDesk. Using both tools in combination allows continuous MBD from the system to the function level.

Our philosophy is to adopt relevant automotive standards early on so we can provide a proven and mature solution to our customers when these standards are eventually widely adopted.

AI: What are some of the automotive system innovations dSPACE is developing?

Our TargetLink code generator is used for developing innovation across all vehicle domains including powertrain, body, and more recently, infotainment and hybrid drive systems. Today, more and more innovative vehicle functions contain safety-relevant software functions. For instance, the active sport differential found in the new Audi S4, was developed using TargetLink. BMW, which completed series development projects on recent safety-critical innovations in the chassis domain, used a qualified TargetLink version for this. BMW also used TargetLink to develop the damper control on its first vehicle containing the FlexRay bus – the X5

In terms of process innovation, Daimler AG (a long-time TargetLink user) is migrating its vehicle body domain software to AUTOSAR compliance using TargetLink. Daimler AG and dSPACE are also evaluating the potential of “virtual” diagnostics verification in the early development phase using SystemDesk with AUTOSAR system models in combination with TargetLink implementation models. Similarly, Audi is evaluating the possibility of performing earlier some system tests (which were previously performed using hardware-in-the-loop technology) using virtual integration based on AUTOSAR and SystemDesk’s system simulation capabilities. Also, Magneti Marelli is using SystemDesk to migrate a powertrain ECU to AUTOSAR compliance.

AI: Tell us a little about the EcoCAR project.

EcoCAR is a 3-year university competition being managed, supported, and coordinated by General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy. 17 U.S. and Canadian College teams have been selected to compete to re-engineer a Saturn Vue. Their main objectives are to achieve improved fuel economy, as well as reduced green house gas emissions without degrading performance or consumer appeal of the vehicle. As a Platinum sponsor of the event, dSPACE will be providing a variety of development systems including Rapid Control Prototyping and Hardware-in-the-Loop test systems to many of the participants.

College teams competing in EcoCAR will be encouraged to implement a variety of cutting edge technologies such as full-function electric, range extended electric, fuel cell, and several hybrid configurations. A critical aspect of this competition is the development of vehicle controls as new drive, power, diagnostic and fueling systems are integrated into the vehicles. dSPACE products will provide students with cutting edge software development tools to streamline the complexity of the systems.

AI: What are some of the challenges facing your company in the current economic downturn and how do you hope to weather the current crisis in the auto industry?

This certainly is a challenging time! Because of the recent downturn in worldwide vehicle sales while worldwide population continues to rise, there is surely a growing pent up demand for new vehicles. When consumer confidence returns, consumers will seek vehicles with better fuel economy, performance, convenience, comfort and low emissions. Automotive OEMs cannot stay in business by merely maintaining the status quo. While cash for development is precious and harder to come by, successful OEMs will continue to develop newer and better products. If not, their market share will eventually shrink to untenable levels.

dSPACE has been fortunate in being a leader in the electronic controls segment of the automotive business. This area has grown and will certainly continue to grow because all of the new features and improvements sought by consumers are implemented by electronic controls. As OEMs continue to compete by developing new products, development tools that support robust, high quality and efficient development processes will be in demand. We will continue to be there to support our customers as they navigate these challenges.

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Sat. July 13th, 2024

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