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AI interview Daniel Hotzy, General Manager, Eberspacher Electronics GmbH & Co. KG

Eberspächer Electronics GmbH & Co. recently unveiled its range of FlexRay development tools at the IAA Show in Frankfurt. Eberspächer Electronics is an expert on the FlexRay communications platform. The company says that the more complex control device boxes are, and the more of them are installed in the vehicle, the more important extensive and effective function tests become. Developers are only rarely able to access the entire system, however. Usually they must simulate data of other bus stations. The new FlexConfig – Modul RBS from Eberspächer Electronics offers a solution for this problem.

This tool can be used to create network simulations for FlexRay and CAN with remarkable speed and ease. Combining the tool with the FlexXCon midget hardware platform creates a complete test environment (PC + hardware platform + RBS) with little effort. And with a FIBEX database, the RBS application can be automatically configured and generated simply by clicking.

The other new product the company unveiled was the FlexCard PMC II which is used to monitor test runs under almost all bus systems. “Different monitoring functions make it possible to use the card either as a simple monitoring tool or as a true communication partner: If an error occurs, the developer has the option of directly accessing what has occurred. The new PMC II is the youngest member of the PC supported FlexCard family for complex test series, such as hardware-in-the-loop simulations (HiL) or in automated test stations,” says Eberspächer Electronics.
Another innovation from Eberspächer Electronics is the FlexXCon midget which is a powerful, robust hardware platform for labs and vehicles makes it possible to simulate a vehicle network and thereby to test a control box, even individually- that is, without communication partners. With this tool, it is also possible to induce intentional communication faults and to modify data exchange. With interfaces to FlexRay, CAN, LIN, and Ethernet, the module can also be used as a gateway: developers who have a CAN test stand will also be able to test FlexRay applications on it.

Eberspächer Electronics is a subsidiary of the EUR 2.2 billion Eberspächer GmbH which is a leading system developer and supplier of exhaust gas technology and vehicle heating worldwide. The Göppingen-based subsidiary Eberspächer is an expert in automotive bus systems – especially those built on FlexRay. The company develops vehicle electronics and automotive bus systems. Its clientele includes almost all European and North American manufacturers of passenger cars and commercial vehicles. “The FlexRay tools and services of the microelectronics transfer centre (TZM) in Göppingen have been incorporated into our subsidiary that we established on June 1, 2008. Use the know-how gained from years of intense research and development for your future-oriented networking concept,” says the company.

Eberspächer Electronics says it was among the pioneers in the field of the FlexRay bus system. “Still in the early days of this system Eberspächer Electronics has developed and produced hardware platforms for the evaluation of FlexRay in different customer projects. From these initial projects a complete portfolio of various hardware and software products has emerged which is permanently improved and extended. Eberspächer Electronics is leading in the sales of FlexRay interface platforms and can offer a wide range of further FlexRay products to their customers such as the configuration software FlexConfig or the gateway module FlexXCon. In addition to that Eberspächer Electronics also provides substantial and practical training courses to diverse participants and they also supply services in projects where a special FlexRay know-how is required,” says the company.

Eberspächer Electronics works closely with a number of technology partners and sells its products through distributors in many countries.

Automotive Industries spoke to Daniel Hotzy, General Manager, Eberspächer Electronics GmbH & Co. KG.

AI: Tell us about how electronic systems for motor vehicles is evolving?

More than 90% of the innovations in new cars are coming from electronics or software. This increasing functionality needs more communication between the different control units. Especially driver assistant functions will increase in the near future. FlexRay is an ideal and cost-efficient solution for the reliable handling of these systems.

AI: What role does Eberspächer Electronics play in this evolution?

We are offering individualized and cost-efficient solutions for the development and testing of automotive networks, especially FlexRay but also for CAN, LIN and Ethernet. Therefore we help the car manufacturers to cope with short development times and small budgets. The handling of the tooling is optimized to a simple handling of the networks.

AI: Tell us about the development of Eberspächer Electronics from Transferzentrum Mikroelektronik (TZM) and Eberspächer’s strategies in the field of automotive electronics.

TZM is a member of the German Steinbeis Group that is focused on local engineering services. We started in 1999 with the development of the first FlexRay products at TZM. But later on when the business and the product portfolio was growing it was necessary for us to look for an industrial partner in the automotive area to expand the activities. Eberspächer, which has been a 100% family-owned company since 1865, is the ideal partner because they act with a long-term strategy.
We have the long-term aim to play an important role in the worldwide automotive network tooling market. Our first step is to offer a complete solution range for these networks. This year we will bring two completely new products on the market: the FlexCard USB and an analysis software.

AI: What are some of Eberspächer’s innovative solutions in the area of automotive electronics and future-oriented electronic networking?

One innovative solution is the remaining bus simulation FlexConfig RBS. It allows the user to generate a bus simulation in a very short time, much faster than with most of the existing tools. Another solution is the FlexCard PMC that supports up to 8 bus channels in mixed combination on one card. This helps the user to safe slots in the computer and programming time. With adapters and an extensive driver support this card can also be used in PCI and PXI-systems.
And we will release a new open analysis software for networks at the end of 2009.

AI: What do you think the future of networking with FlexRay will be like? What role will your company play in this?

FlexRay will gather a steady part between the automotive bus systems as a reliable and robust network in the near future. BMW and Audi have many cars developed with FlexRay, some of them are already on the road. Especially cars that offer many driver assistant functions can be realized more cost-efficient and more stable than with other networks.
We, as expert for FlexRay-networks assist you with efficient and easy to use tools from the beginning with FlexRay up to series test solutions. Even all the professional services you need in combination with FlexRay such as training, testing and customized hardware and software are offered by our company.

You will find no other company in the world with such a long FlexRay experience and with its focus on this network. We are your reliable partner for all FlexRay activities.

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