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Virtual design, verification for e-Mobility

Posted: 22 Jul 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:electronic control units? ECUs? simulation? verification? Power generation?

The electrification of the automobile is the most fundamental change within the industry since the beginning of the 20th century. We have witnessed the proliferation of electronic sub-systems within conventional vehicles over the past 10 years or so, and the growth forecasts for hybrid and pure electric vehicles will give the market for automotive semiconductors a significant boost.

The market for electronic control units (ECUs) alone stood at just under $48 billion in 2010, some 29% higher than 2009. Overall, electronic vehicle content is forecast to grow by just under 8% annually to 2015. Some application areas will show exceptionally high growth (in excess of 50%). These include pure EVs, head-up displays, drowsiness detection, LED lighting, stop/start, lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring. By 2010, electronic systems and software comprised 30% of the cost of conventional (gas) vehicles and 65% of the cost of hybrid and electric vehicles.

Key electrical connections
Driver experience (including safety, comfort, ecology, economy)!the connection between the car and its passengers!has become as important as the cars purpose as a means of transport. The industry has focused on how to make vehicles more people-friendly for the last 20-30 years. As a result, electric sub-systems feature in many of the car's systems. Some of the key connections between people and vehicles (both in production and in research) include:
???Electrification of driver comfort and entertainment,
???Electrification of the drive train to reduce emissions,
???Navigation, GPS, cloud navigation giving immediate access to information,
???Electric power infrastructure and minimising power,
???'Platooning' vehicles together, sign/ pedestrian/road line recognition, and
???Autonomous vehicles, where the driver becomes unnecessary.

Implementing the kinds of connections above makes cars more complex!just how much more complex can be seen in the amount of software that automotive engineers produce.

Automotive systems are starting to approach the same level of software complexity that modern operating systems contain!anything from a staggering 50m to 300m lines of code. In fact, automotive systems are actually more complex than that, since the interaction with the mechatronic system of the vehicle is far more important than in a computer. The car can kill you; the computer probably won't.

System challenges
At the 2010 SAE International conference, top engineers from Honda, GM, Ford, BMW, Chrysler, PSA and Toyota took part in a "Carmakers Speak" panel session, which identified the main system challenges for automotive design. These were:

Function and software allocation, and verification: This activity is central to car design today. It involves identifying the functions on the vehicle, and allocating them to hardware and software resources.

System engineering and simulation: Automotive engineers must redesign every system in the vehicle for electrification.

Power generation, management and distribution: The core system of the vehicle is still the generation, management, and consumption of electricity, and is being expanded to include the drive train.

We look at these three challenges in more detail below.

Function and software allocation, and verification
The key challenge for automotive systems engineers is that rather than increasing reliability, software makes the problem harder. Making cars that don't crash, that serve up driver information without distraction, and that don't pollute, are among the greatest system engineering challenges that the industry faces. On top of that, success in the industry depends on there being sufficient demand for cars, which means that design teams are constantly under pressure to find the latest "cool factor".

The essence of system design is to design a distributed computing system that interacts with physical systems, and then defining and mapping the software onto this distributed system. This task was more straightforward when every ECU in the vehicle mapped to a single function and the ECU/software was delivered as a black box!an approach that means it's now common to find over 100 ECUs in high-end vehicles. In order to reduce the number of ECUs, the technology now exists to consolidate multiple functions into a single ECU. The complexity of functions has also increased so that multiple ECUs must cooperate to implement a high-level function. Tasks like automatic parking or collision avoidance must communicate with and control multiple sub-systems.

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