Hardware in the loop tools are extending their reach, addressing a broader range of design challenges. dSpace rolled out a program that lets engineers do more planning during the conceptual phases of a program, while National Instruments divulged that it’s broadening its HIL offerings.
These moves, made during the SAE World Congress, highlight the growing use of HIL as automakers strive to roll out complex electronic systems rapidly while also trimming costs. HIL helps eliminate the need for physical prototypes, letting engineers test systems before hardware exists.
With its new SystemDesk 2.0, dSpace is stretching its role into the early stages of design. That makes it much easier to examine different architectural approaches. The system lets engineers test different techniques in both electronic control units and networks.
“You can link ECUs and buses, seeing whether there’s too much traffic on a given bus,” said Kevin Kott, President of dSpace. “In the past, there have been tools that let you troubleshoot buses, but not to see how things work when you’re first putting things together.
The SystemDesk 2.0 works with CAN, FlexRay and other networks. It also provides a number of links for AUTOSAR, making it simpler for developers to create descriptions for compatible software components and load them into SystemsDesk for further processing.
As dSpace extends its reach NI is expanding its efforts. "HIL is an intense focus area,” said Chris Washington, HIL and Dynamic Test Product Manager at National Instruments. “We’re working on a number of products that enhance our HIL platform.”
NI is aiming at a broader market, with lower cost PC-based hardware. The company is leveraging its instrumentation products, which make it easy to link the HIL system to the real world products that exist during different phases of product development. Its PXI-based platforms provide openness, so compatible products can be added to systems as needed.
NI’s initial efforts in HIL have focused in part on the transportation industry.
MAN Nutzfahrzeuge Agmicro utilized NI’s hardware and its LabView programming environment during the development of a 12-cylinder diesel for the maritime field and a 6-cylinder diesel for trucks. Working with contract supplier Micronova, the engine maker examined the networking links along with the ECUs.