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TTTech brings networking scalability and flexibility to automotive customers

Vienna-based high-tech company TTTech Computer technik AG, is a top supplier of networking solutions based on time triggered technology and modular safety platforms. It boasts companies like AUDI AG, Boeing and NASA as customers

“The fact that leading global companies in the automotive, aerospace and commercial vehicle industries use our products in production projects confirms our top position in the technology sector and the high quality standards of our team,” explains Stefan Poledna, member of the Executive Board of TTTech. Current projects include modern automotive driver assistance systems, wind turbines and innovative fly-by-wire applications in aircraft. During the first three quarters of 2012, TTTech achieved more than average growth. This has been a trend since 2011 when the company’s revenues rose by 40%. The company currently employs around 280 personnel, including more than 200 in Vienna. In the year 2012, 65 new employees joined the company, and a similar staff increase is planned for this year.

Since the company’s inception in 1998, TTTech has been heavily involved in research. Together with ten other top Austrian companies and the Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (bmvit), TTTech signed the Innovationsland Österreich declaration in 2011. Through this, the company has agreed to increase research spending by at least 20% by 2015. “Between 2011 and 2012 alone, TTTech increased its R&D expenditure by 25% in order to bolster its technology position,” says Poledna

TTTech’s three core product lines include the TTX-DataLogger, TTEthernet® switches and products, and safety ECUs.

On-board automotive electronic architecture has become more and more complex due to an increased demand on the functionality of driver assistance systems or vehicle dynamics functions. Due to the ever-increasing complexity in the interactions of these systems, a reliable tool for logging and analysis is needed in order to record all data while providing smart online analysis. TTTech’s TTX-DataLogger helps meet these challenges.

Loss of data due broken cables, loose connectors or a malfunctioning test device leads to increased costs for the OEM. TTX-Data Logger offers special robust and lockable connectors for the link to the vehicle bus systems, as well as two mounting brackets which allow for a stable fastening in the car. TTTech also offers TTEthernet® switches and related products for deterministic networking and the design of modular control platforms. The company’s TTEthernet® (SAE AS6802) is a scalable, open real-time Ethernet platform used for safety-related applications primarily in transportation industries and industrial automation.

It has been designed for safe, real-time applications, cyber-physical systems and unified networking. TTTech’s safety ECUs enable the rapid design of system architecture and the efficient use of various CPUs in the development environment. All hardware components meet the highest quality and reliability standards, and are particularly suitable for use in safety-related applications. The entire range of hardware products can be expanded and adapted to customer requirements.

Automotive Industries (AI) spoke to Marc Lang, Director Business Development and Sales, TTTech Automotive and asked him to describe TTEthernet®’s automotive applications, and some of the unique features of the company’s Ethernet solutions.

Lang: In a nutshell, TTEthernet® combines deterministic behavior and high bandwidth and therefore fits into applications requiring safety and high data transmission. Automotive projects use TTTech prior technology as an intra-ECU network as well as a powerful network between different domain ECUs. Due to its ability to combine data traffic of different criticality on a single network, TTEthernet® is destined to be used as a transport protocol for invehicle backbone networks.

AI: How important is scalability and flexibility to automotive customers, and how do TTTech’s products help meet these requirements?

Lang: Meeting the cost targets of automotive OEMs means developing scalable platforms and enabling the reuse of standardized components in different programs or projects. TTTech started investing in different hardware and software platforms at a very early stage. The result of this development is a modular building block called TTSafety which combines several modules like CPU-cores, watchdogs, safe drivers or middleware and includes safety manuals and certification packages. This approach has enabled us to deliver samples of complex, customer-specific safety ECUs in less than four months.

AI: What makes your test tools such as TTX-Disturbance Node and TTX-Connexion the best in class? Tell us a little about how your testing and verification solutions meet the rugged requirements of automotive manufacturers.

Lang: TTTech has been offering ruggedized testing tools for use in harsh environments like airplanes or off-highway-machinery for many years. Automotive testing tools like the TTX-Data Logger or TTX-Connexion fulfil almost the same requirements. Our test tools provide vast configuration options, and above all, an open platform concept allowing our customers to add user-specific enhancements and ensure seamless integration into their existing testing environments.

AI: What are some of the features of your safety ECUs?

Lang: TTTech has a long history of developing ECUs dedicated for use in safety relevant applications. Starting with different off-highway applications like steer-by-wire or hydraulic pumps, TTTech learned a lot about how to apply safety norms, and therefore has been among the first companies to deliver an ECU developed according to the ISO 26262. This Inverter Safety Unit secures the safe behavior of the Volvo C30 electric vehicle in case of any failure of the electric powertrain. Furthermore, TTTech’s safety ECUs control different vehicle dynamic systems and will be used as a platform ECU for next generation driver assistance systems.

AI: What are some of the challenges TTTech faces in designing products like the IEC 61508?

Lang: Safety norms require accurate adherence to specific development processes, a lot of review work and extensive testing. From the very beginning, TTTech has been active in high-end safety systems for the aerospace-, off-highway- and automotive industries and has established and perfected its development processes for software and hardware. Today’s test databases contain a large number of sophisticated test cases and are well established.

AI: What are some of the safety features of the inverter safety unit or ISU, what makes it unique?

Lang: The idea of TTTech’s ISU is based on the concept of decomposition – meaning that it is possible to fulfil the highest safety targets by adding an ISU as a separate control unit to an electric inverter. The ISU ensures that all safety relevant failure scenarios will be discovered within milliseconds. Providing a reaction according the safety goal agreed on by the the OEM (for instance shutting the inverter down) is a big challenge, especially when it comes to recognizing vehicle motion at a very low speed (close to 0 km/h).

AI: Tell us a little about the HY-TTC 200 and 90 family of control units.

Lang: It pays to use powerful but standardized off-the-shelf ECUs like our HY-TTC 200 and 90 especially at small volumes. Both are flagship models of different type series offering 16 or 32 bit CPU and a wide number of I/Os. Automotive-qualified housing and connectors as well as easy-to-use configuration tools prove that our ECUs fit into standard networks and are easy to integrate.  

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