One of the automotive industry’s biggest challenges is to ensure the quality of the ever-increasing amount of software. The problem is that software testing consumes most of the total development cost, and has become a bottleneck in the process of rapidly getting new models on the market. Much of software testing still depends on physical hardware in the form of test rigs or test prototypes. These are expensive to build and maintain, but also limited within their specific application area and require physical space.
Netgroup has been involved in a project where the goal was to move large parts of physical testing into a virtual environment for sensor / actuator systems. The move was made using virtual hardware models. The system consists of components from different domains (digital, electrical and mechanical) where you generally need to use different tools to create the models. In order to have these models integrate and function as a real system, a common way for the models to communicate is required.
By using the FMI standard, which is a common communication interface, we created a virtual test bench. On the test bench, the actual software – uploaded on a virtual processor – controls a number of actuators using values from sensor models. All hardware components that would exist on a physical test bench are the representation of virtual models. The term true software really means the real binary software that could be used in the final product.