The growing complexity of powertrain control strategies, software, and hardware is posing a significant challenge to the automotive engineering community, especially in managing optimization to meet desired performance bogies. With an increased emphasis on shorter development time, and additional sensors and actuators becoming more commonplace, the increased dependence on physical models and use of complex interdependent control systems demands a thorough system understanding.
These trends amplify the need for use of process-improvement tools to assist in effective engineering development. One such tool is FEV Inc.’s MicroHiL engineering-service solution, which will be shown for the first time at the 2013 SAE World Congress (in booth #513) from April 16 to 18 in Detroit, MI. The portable hardware-in-the-loop (HiL) solution was created to improve efficiencies for its customers related to system-level powertrain component testing. It is believed by FEV to be the first portable HiL unit developed specifically for testing engine components at the system level.
Understanding the complex interaction between various control strategies is becoming more crucial with increasing demand on sophisticated controls and refined calibration. The MicroHiL concept, for which the virtual engine model is connected to a real-time processing ECU through a series of sophisticated software and hardware interfaces, was conceived as a desktop test environment. The conventional approach involves using the test cell or vehicle for understanding these complex interactions. Very often the cost associated to study these interactions far outweighs the conceived advantages or the time required in test cell setup, and testing sometimes does not fit within current product development timelines.
"With the increasing complexity of the powertrain and its associated systems, it makes much more economic sense to test at the system level when calibrating engine components," said Gary Rogers, President and CEO of FEV Inc. "This unique device will allow FEV to better serve customers by testing, calibrating, and validating literally anywhere that is convenient for the customer. It allows us to complement the service provided by full test cell powertrain evaluation."
A major advantage of the MicroHiL unit, according to FEV, is its ability to simulate varying road and environmental conditions encountered in real-world situations. This allows FEV engineers to conduct multiple simulations under the same conditions to improve the quality and consistency of the results.
The portable tool enables a virtual engine model to be connected to a real-time processing ECU through a series of sophisticated software and hardware interfaces. MicroHiL simulates many types of environmental and driving condition—from altitude, heat, cold, and various types of weather—without hitting the road. This new service identifies the conditions, algorithms, and batch processes that are needed by an engineer to ensure a robust calibration for best performance during the optimization and calibration project phases. Engine development and calibration engineers can use MicroHiL as an easily adaptable, low-cost, mobile solution, saving up to 40% in overall development time.
The unit, which has been in service with FEV OE customers, complements the company's test cell operations by increasing the efficiency of test cell use, which can be devoted to broader powertrain testing operations.
FEV hosted a webcast detailing the features and abilities of MicroHiL on March 20, and the archived event can be viewed at http://bit.ly/XHTrDb. At previous SAE World Congresses, FEV engineers discussed phase one of MicroHiL development (http://papers.sae.org/2011-01-0703/) and the second phase of its development related to the creation of a virtual test cell environment (http://papers.sae.org/2012-01-0928/).