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Hardware-in-the-loop automotiuve simulations become more realistic thanks to collaboration

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Driving simulation experts rFpro and embedded electronics specialist Xylon are jointly preparing hardware with a simulated environment in an effort to accelerate the testing of complex automotive systems. Their setup will allow interfacing for both open and closed-loop testing.

By exchanging the software ECU model used in a software-in-the-loop (SIL) simulation with an ECU, stimulated and monitored from the software simulator, a new level of realism can be achieved that delivers greater confidence in the testing results. This validation will ensure products are ready for market in the fastest and most cost-effective way. The new, flexible interface that can be quickly and independently be adapted to suit a variety of third-party ECUs and applications.

“The ability to interface with third-party hardware providers is a key advantage of our flexible approach, and ensures customers are not locked in to any one solution,” said Matt Daley, Operations Director at rFpro.

The concept has been validated by interfacing rFpro’s driving simulation software with Xylon’s 360-degree Surround View parking assistance ECU. In the real world, the system stitches together the output from four cameras placed around the vehicle – in the front grille, rear bumper and under each door mirror – to create a bird’s eye view of the vehicle and its surroundings to aid parking manoeuvres.

In the simulation, rFpro’s high-definition scenes are rendered using specific models that precisely match the characteristics of each parking camera, complete with fish-eye lens distortion. The rFpro output then passes through the Xylon’s logiRECORDER interface box, converting it into four video feeds that can be fed to the hardware ECU in a format identical to that of the real cameras.

By feeding the ECU with data that is indistinguishable from that generated in the real world, the ECU can be tested in a wide variety of scenarios using production firmware. With the aid of rFpro’s industry-leading simulation software, challenging lighting conditions, harsh environments and various other test scenarios can all be instantly simulated and tested far faster and more cost-effectively than ever before.

Furthermore, closed-loop testing is possible, with the ECU’s responses fed back through the Xylon’s logiRECORDER interface box to rFpro, allowing it in turn to respond and update the simulation based on the ECU’s reactions. This reinforces the ability of rFpro’s software to significantly accelerate testing programmes for a wide variety of automotive systems, often eliminating the need for physical testing in a number of scenarios.

The data-intensive scenario presented by the parking ADAS setup acts as a perfect demonstration of the interface’s very high bandwidth capability, making it suitable for use with various ECUs and serial interfaces.

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