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AUTOMOTIVE ELECTRONICS Driving speed & reliability in automotive systems engineering

Feb 1, 2021

To help ensure that all systems and components will operate reliably, automotive systems engineers require an advanced, automated tool for generating & verifying software code. In today’s fast-paced, high-stakes design environment, engineering teams can no longer rely on outdated tools & processes for ensuring system integrity. Instead, they require a comprehensive simulation solution offered by an industry leader focused on helping customers bring better products to market faster. This article by Ansys – a global leader in engineering simulation – talks about the benefits gained if engineers relied on a customised tool created specifically for automotive systems design, how engineering automotive systems have become more challenging and the need to comply with increasingly complex & stringent standards for automotive electronics.

Today’s automotive systems are more complex, smarter and autonomous than ever before, featuring functionality that no one could have imagined 10 years ago. Advanced sensors and electronics control everything, from a vehicle’s speed & position to its entertainment & communication technologies. Radar, cameras and other sophisticated electronics are increasingly being incorporated into consumer vehicles. In fact, today, more than 60% of a car’s cost comes from its advanced electronics and software systems.

Since many of the functions guided by electronic systems are mission-critical, it’s essential that all automotive systems work together with complete reliability. The tens of millions of lines of software code that control these systems must be flawless.

Yet, this presents a challenge for automotive systems engineers, since many of the technology systems and components are sourced from different suppliers. Engineers are challenged with the critical task of creating a robust, failsafe system architecture, complete with controls that ensure the system’s consistent operation.

Most automotive systems engineering teams rely on manual processes & generic tools, such as Excel™, to generate & verify this architecture. Because these tools are not created specifically for the task of automotive systems design, they do not support rapid or consistent engineering results. The associated manual processes can be extremely time-consuming and are subject to human error.

Manual processes prove insufficient not only for initial systems design but also for ongoing tweaks and updates. As changes are made in one component of the overall system, the entire electronics system architecture must be re-engineered. A single change must be verified against hundreds of other components and associated inputs to ensure that the integrity of the overall automotive system is maintained.

With incredible pressures in the automotive industry to innovate often and launch those innovations rapidly, engineers need a new solution to manage these complex systems engineering tasks. In today’s fast-paced, highly competitive industry landscape, they can no longer afford to rely on the tools & processes of the past.

Advanced engineering requires advanced tools

The process of engineering an automotive system may be complex, but it is, in the end, a step-by-step process that can benefit from automation. What’s needed is a new model-based, automated solution that walks engineers through the various tasks involved in architecture design and verification. In addition, as changes are made in one component, the ideal technology solution would automate the process of making any associated changes across the entire system — ensuring its continued safe, consistent operation.

By relying on an advanced technology tool to accomplish these tasks, automotive engineers could not only save time & money, they could also increase the accuracy and reliability of the resulting system.

If engineers relied on a customised tool created specifically for automotive systems design, they could realise these important benefits:

  • An estimated 40% savings in costs associated with software code validation & verification activities, due to significant time savings & lower personnel needs

  • Greater control over complex system architecture tasks, as the new model-based tool would follow a proven, step-by-step approach

  • A higher level of system reliability, safety and security because the risk of human error would be minimised with the application of an advanced tool

  • A reduction in physical testing investments, since any flaws in software code would be identified & addressed at an early stage

  • A holistic approach that not only considers individual components but also how they are integrated with one another to form a complete system

Simplifying even the most complex tasks

The ideal model-based solution would be built specifically for the way automotive systems are engineered today. It would be able to address a range of system designs, incorporating a broad range of components & connectivity. Via reduced-ordered modelling and a step-by-step process, the new solution would accelerate the system engineering process without sacrificing the accuracy or robustness of verification activities.

With the emergence of radar & lidar technologies and autonomous driving, engineering automotive systems have become even more challenging. Any new software engineering solution would have to ensure the safe operation of a given car under a wide range of driving scenarios.

Ideally, the new tool would also accommodate the different ways that engineering teams work together, integrating well with other common design tools and support processes. In order to be as user-friendly as possible for a variety of teams, the modelling solution should work across multiple platforms and languages, including SysML.

Support for automotive industry standards

In 2003, a network of leaders in the worldwide automotive industry came together to create AUTomotive Open System ARchitecture (AUTOSAR) — a set of standards that define an open software architecture for automotive electronics. Other relevant industry standards include ISO 26262 and ASAM MCD2-DC.

Any new software modelling solution must support these accepted industry standards to ensure that the resulting systems can be certified & approved. Engineering teams would benefit by developing overall software designs, interfaces and exchanges that work across multiple vehicle platforms and are accepted by multiple auto manufacturers.

The need to comply with increasingly complex and stringent standards for automotive electronics only emphasises the need for an advanced, customised modelling solution. Generic tools lack the intelligence to recognise and comply with industry standards, which means compliance must be managed manually. By incorporating compliance into its underlying capabilities, a dedicated modelling solution would minimise human resource needs & time commitments, while maximising confidence that the final design will easily pass any regulatory approvals.

Backed by a proven leader

To provide the greatest value — and the highest level of confidence — to automotive engineering teams, any new modelling solution should be developed by an industry leader. The software developer should not only have a suite of proven products for software code generation and validation but also a long list of satisfied customers who have successfully applied its modelling solutions.

Deep experience in generating & verifying control software code in related industries, including aviation, rail transportation and nuclear power, would instil confidence in automotive engineers. The fact that similar software tools have been used successfully in more than 100 certified projects would help establish credibility among automotive engineering teams.

Since system engineering is often closely coupled with other automotive engineering tasks, it would be best if the provider of the modelling solution offered a suite of related projects for automotive engineering applications. Not only would this ensure easy integration of solutions and seamless collaboration among various functions but it would also ensure that the model-based tool is developed to work with the most common systems & technologies used by today’s engineering teams.

Driving toward the future

A model-based approach to automotive system designing promises a range of benefits, including a significant increase in the productivity of engineering staff. As designers rely on an advanced tool to manage their code generation & verification tasks, new systems architectures can be launched much more rapidly.

Just as automotive electronics capabilities have advanced rapidly, the solutions used to design electronics systems should also reflect the latest thinking and best-in-class technology. Already proven effective in mission-critical applications, model-based solutions for generating control software code should now be applied in the global automotive industry. In the race to perfect autonomous vehicles, the new level of speed & efficiency enabled by such tools can help separate the leaders from the followers.

Engineering simulation

While the idea of modelling software code for automotive systems is relatively new, engineering simulation has a long and successful history in other automotive applications. Computational fluid dynamics solutions from ANSYS allow engineers to simulate the external aerodynamics of cars, the combustion inside conventional engines and the flows associated with heating & cooling systems. Structural solutions, such as ANSYS Mechanical, help engineers ensure design robustness, while also reducing weight & exploring alternative materials, such as composites.

With the introduction of SCADE solutions, customised for the automotive industry, ANSYS is leveraging its deep experience with the world’s leading automotive teams. It is combining that expertise with the proven performance of SCADE modelling solutions in other sectors, including aviation, rail and nuclear power. Automotive customers can realise the best of both worlds as they apply SCADE solutions to their system architecture engineering tasks.

Combining innovative features with the highest degree of confidence

Systems engineering teams need to match the smart features of today’s cars with tools & processes that drive a more reliable, more efficient design process. By leveraging a powerful solution that complies with the automotive industry standards — and is backed by an industry leader in control software design — engineers can emerge as leaders in developing cutting-edge systems that combine innovative features with the highest possible degree of confidence.

Courtesy: Ansys

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  • AUTOSAR Software Component Design

  • AUTOSAR Methodology Instantiation

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