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Meeting the increasingly complex challenge of real-time data capture

Vehicle system testing is becoming increasingly sophisticated in order to capture information from the growing number of sensor and actuator clusters in modern vehicles.

Country or region-specific testing is also required before vehicles can be sold into most markets.

Austrian firm DEWETRON, a leading supplier of test and measurement systems to the automotive as well as other industries, was recently named winner of the NASA Tech Briefs product of the month and product of the year finalist for 2012 for its DEWE2-A4 system. The DEWE2 measurement series with TRION™ modules is a compact and portable all-in-one instrument with display.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Raimund Trummer, Director Product Marketing at DEWETRON, what are some of the latest developments in vehicle testing.

Trummer: We see two major trends. The first one is that more data needs to be recorded.

While up to now CAN tools have been used to monitor just the bus condition, a new development is to use XCP for simultaneously monitoring the internal parameters of control units. The second trend is that multiple vehicles or vehicles plus other objects – like fixed obstacles or pedestrians – are involved in testing. The applications for such complex test scenarios are mainly in the fields of ADAS testing and functional safety testing.

AI: How innovative would you say the DEWE2 series is and why?

Trummer: We concentrated on channel density and ruggedness for in-vehicle use. We can show an online overview of the whole test situation including test track, multiple vehicles, fixed obstacles, pedestrians, etc. at an accuracy of 2cm and in real-time.

We can also guide the driver through certain tests through the display. What exactly does that mean? If test engineers, for example, run circular tests on high-μ circles at the home proving ground they can do the very same on a low-μ iced lake. We simply record the movements at 2cm accuracy, and when the engineers move from Germany to an iced lake in Sweden, for example, a software button allows changing the origin of the test-run to the current position. The system sees what we call the virtual proving ground, and immediately can start testing, without the need to mark circles on the lake. Another nice thing is that DEWE2 supports mobile devices, like iPAD. Such devices are very convenient to use for our GPS-supported cone placement.

Of course, a simple online view of measurements is also possible using mobile devices. We have a few more data quality innovations. Our existing SYNC-CLOCK technology is implemented in DEWE2. The analog inputs are also more precise than ever, plus DEWE2 supports modules at different sampling rates to optimize the test configuration.

AI: What are some of the reasons why the DEWE2 series is particularly suited to automotive applications?

Trummer: There is the integration of all important interfaces like CAN, OBDII, J1939, LIN, FlexRay, XCP-on- CAN and XCP-on-Ethernet. DEWE2 records analog and digital signals, counters, bus data, intelligent automotive sensors like GPS/Inertial platforms, regular video, high-speed video, thermal video and even ECU parameters. Another good reason is that the systems are fully user configurable – simply change modules to turn a very compact chassis from, say, a CAN recorder with 16 CAN interfaces into a 32 channel analog signal recorder within one minute. We also developed new power supplies for DEWE2, with isolation and wide-range DC input as basic features. We can add an internal buffer battery for ~5 minutes to bridge voltage drops, or turn the units into completely hot-swappable battery-powered systems.

DEWE2 also serves as laboratory and test bench measuring system. Multiple front-ends can be attached to a base instrument by daisy-chain method.

AI: How do DEWETRON’s solutions help automotive engineers minimize time and maximize quality when testing?

Trummer: The most important thing is that every kind of signal can be connected to a single instrument. The DEWETRON SYNCCLOCK reduces editing times up to 50% and improves quality of data by factors of five to 10! There are a few more obvious features which are continuously improved, like quick installation of the hardware into the test vehicles, the chance to prepare instrumentsetups offline on any office PC, and reducing the preparation time on the test track by, for example, supporting cone placement via GPS and instructions on a display; like our own MOB-DISPLAY or any other, such as an iPAD.

AI: How does SYNC-CLOCK work?

Trummer: Our slogan to describe SYNC-CLOCK is “from many, one” because it provides the timing backbone that allows all different data types to be recorded in perfect sync from the very beginning with each other, and when needed also in relation to an absolute time reference like the highly precise PPS signal from GPS. By recording all signals in perfect sync, SYNC-CLOCK not only increases the quality of mixed-signal data significantly, but also enables any kind of online calculations and display. The real power of SYNC-CLOCK is reflected in the analysis of the data.

Since everything is already recorded in sync, analysis can be performed immediately.

AI: What are some of the technologies DEWETRON has brought to automotive testing?

Trummer: I think we are the only ones who can measure the position of vehicles dynamically with an accuracy of +-2 cm and calculate and display relative distances, speeds, accelerations, etc. between the vehicles – absolutely time synchronous to all other measurement data online. This is the foundation for the establishment of constant test conditions and sequences for efficient evaluation or benchmarking of ADAS systems. Another key technology we invented eight years ago is the perfectly synchronized video acquisition. Also worth mentioning is our STREAM technology, which enables data recording at speeds up to 200 MB/s. Finally, there is a proprietary data format whichenables us to reload multiple-GB files within moments, browse the data and cut-out and store the relevant parts.

Power analysis is getting more and more important in automotive testing and we created a power analyzer which can run multiple power calculation modules on a single instrument – thanks to i7 CPU and synchronously record extra information from CAN bus, analog sensors, etc. This means a single instrument can be used for the determination of total efficiency by analyzing power at the battery, at all e-motors plus the mechanical parameters. In hybrid cars, combustion analysis can be added to get the complete picture.

AI: Tell us a little about your company’s strategy in the automotive sector.

Trummer: We live a very simple strategy: supply instruments and support to help the customer to improve his product and make his tasks more efficient. We work very closely with OEMs, and I mean this literally. We’re really there for measurements and support them actively. Our support includes everything from preparation through implementation to evaluation. This enables us to keep a finger on the pulse in terms of new developments and testing requirements. In addition, we understand the challenges the test engineers face out there at -20 °C and +40 °C and we learn to speak “their language”.

We build a lot of know-how through such close cooperation, which guarantees us the lead in the development of new devices and new software functionality for our automotive toolbox. It´s a success for us when OEMs approach DEWETRON to inquire about how to solve specific measurement tasks.

AI: How do DEWETRON’s products help automotive OEMs building alternative-fuelled vehicles?

Trummer: If it´s a combustion engine, obviously there is our combustion analyzer. If we are talking about EVs, our power analyser with additional inputs for CAN, analog, video, etc. is perfectly suited to evaluate the total efficiency of the drivetrain. It also can be used to record driver behavior and road-profiles which are then used on the HIL test-stand to optimize the battery use. Our instruments are a really perfect fit for the evaluation of hybrid cars, since we can combine combustion analyzer plus power analyzer plus additional inputs like analog, CAN or video into a single device. Besides our instruments, I can say that our know-how in the electrical power measurement is a big help for the OEMs – DEWETRON has had a power division for the past 10 years. Many OEMs and a number of the TIER1s already use DEWETRON e-mobility systems to measure and benchmark e-drive vehicles on the road as well as in their laboratories. Analysis of frequency phenomena up to the 200th harmonics and even above in a frequency converted e-drive system requires very detailed knowledge which is not common yet in the automotive industry, and this is where our customers rely on and trust our electrical power specialists.


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