NI broadens commitment to vehicle development

November 25, 2019 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
NI widens commitment to vehicle development
With increasing electronic content, test and measurement system manufacturer National Instruments is becoming increasingly committed in vehicle development. At its NI Days Europe user congress, the company presented new platforms and systems for such applications.

A driving factor in the development of electric vehicles are government requirements to reduce pollutant emissions in traffic. These requirements increase the pressure on car manufacturers to bring EVs to market as quickly as possible. For powertrain test engineers, moving to EVs means new and evolving technologies with rapidly changing test requirements in very tight schedules.

NI enables engineers to modify and extend test systems faster and more efficiently than with traditional fixed test systems from turnkey suppliers. This approach can help shorten time to market by flexibly scaling system performance and changing the I/O mix to respond to rapidly changing test requirements. NI's HIL systems are built according to a reference test architecture based on methods applied and recommended by leading OEMs. The company’s EV reference architecture optimizes the HIL test of powertrain power electronics such as traction inverters, DC/DC converters and chargers by providing standard starting points for a number of key vehicle development tasks. These include power electronics integration, I/O mapping and signal conditioning, sensor and load emulation, error injection, test sequencing, and last but not least, result logging.

Powerful EV-HIL systems require the coordination of several suppliers. NI works with companies such as Canadian real-time simulation specialist OPAL-RT Inc., who offers an advanced eHS solution system and an electrical machine library for seamless, precise model integration. Integrating OPAL-RT models into the test system can help shorten test development times while increasing result resolution, helping customers achieve shorter design cycles, and gaining better insight from test data.

NI also invests in toolchain integration within the HIL workflow to ensure optimal interaction of the best tools for customers. To this end, NI has established a joint venture with the embedded systems specialist ETAS. This JV, ETAS NI Systems GmbH & Co. KG focuses on the provision of preconfigured HIL systems.

The JV, which will commence operations at the turn of the year, develops prefabricated HIL systems that can shorten development cycles and test times. ETAS' expertise in the development and integration of HIL solutions combined with NI's software-defined platform and comprehensive I/O capabilities will allow test teams to benefit from both existing approaches. The pre-integrated systems can be quickly configured from a common infrastructure to meet specific customer requirements. Because they are built on the NI platform, test equipment can be cost-effectively adapted over time to keep pace with technological changes.

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