Virtual testing in conjunction with HiL systems
The NovaCarts Virtual simulation platform from testing and software expert MicroNova AG combines the advantages of hardware-in-the-loop (HiL) systems with the strengths of cloud technology. Automobile manufacturers and suppliers can use it to expand their test capacities and secure modern control units early in the development stage. The hardware and software solutions enable a combination of real, simulated and virtualised test components.
The share of software in vehicles is continuously increasing and plays an ever more important role. “Software-defined vehicles” will decisively shape modern mobility. However, the new electrical and electronic systems and their architectures are increasing the scope and complexity of the ECU software and thus the pressure on development. After all, the vehicles will only offer more safety and comfort if the numerous applications work together reliably and trouble-free. Therefore, safeguarding of ECUs requires a considerable expansion of test capacities as well as an adaptation of the test methodology on the part of car manufacturers and suppliers. With NovaCarts Virtual, MicroNova addresses precisely these challenges.
The simulation solution combines HiL systems and cloud technology to create mixed test environments with real, simulated and virtualised components. The consistent x-in-the-loop (XiL) test concept based on this uniform platform enables different variations of ECU tests: from virtual-only simulation to an overall network with all electrical/electronic control components of a vehicle. Tests of individual ECUs benefit from a realistic simulation of the rest of the vehicle.
Real-time container technology serves as the basis for mixed test environments. It makes it possible to run simulations in a standard format, e.g. Docker. In this way, a wide variety of components can be involved in a test setup. NovaCarts Virtual allows a freely definable partitioning of the entire vehicle into real control units simulated on the HiL and virtualised in the cloud. When a test job is started, these are dynamically interconnected and are available again for other tests after the job has been completed. Depending on requirements, multiple concurrent ECUs are also available in a test farm.
In order to accelerate software development while maintaining high quality, methods such as Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery and Deployment (CD) are increasingly being used. An essential part of CI is the automatic testing of software applications before they are made available in a repository. For CI environments, MicroNova has also developed extensions for the EXAM test automation solution: The “EXAM Jenkins Plug-in” automates the execution of tests in build environments, while the “EXAM Test Cloud Controller” distributes test jobs via the cloud to free resources. These methods optimise the utilisation of the test infrastructure so that more results are available earlier in the development process.
“By flexibly combining different test executions, NovaCarts Virtual enables automotive manufacturers and testing service providers to save significant time – reducing costs by up to 50 % compared to traditional ECU testing methods,” emphasises MicroNova COO Klaus Eder the benefits of the new platform. “Waiting times for recompilations are reduced, as is the planning effort when test resources are scarce. This is because the combined HiL cloud approach enables agile testing in distributed teams – regardless of location.”