Fully Automated Test System for LV124/LV148 Reduces Test Times and Costs for Lidar Electrical Testing by 50 Percent

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"We built a fully automated test system that reduces test times and costs by 50 percent and provides deeper insight into the engine control unit (ECU) behaviour during electrical tests for validation."

- Andreea Solomon, WKS Informatik GmbH

The Challenge:
We needed to develop a fully automated test system for the electrical tests of the LV124 automotive standard. We wanted to replace the usual manual test procedure and drastically reduce the test time and cost of a lidar device under test (DUT).

The Solution:
We developed a generic concept that revolves around several WKS Informatik products for LV124/LV148, all based on NI hardware and software. We built a fully automated test system that reduces test times and costs by 50 percent and provides deeper insight into the engine control unit (ECU) behaviour during electrical tests for validation.

Author(s):
Andreea Solomon - WKS Informatik GmbH

 

We at WKS Informatik, an NI Silver Alliance Partner for over 20 years, believe that the safety of a car begins with the safety of each component built inside.  

The automotive industry is one of the most dynamic industries regarding the innovation pace. Combined with times to market that get shorter every year and the higher safety requirements that the ECUs must fulfill, brought on autonomous driving and electromobility trends, OEMs and suppliers feel mounting pressure to deliver new products not only faster but also safer.  

The most critical step in the life of an ECU—and of the car that has it built inside—is validation. Every bug that remains undetected at this step can cause millions of recalls, image loss, and, in case of autonomous driving, even deaths.

Therefore, the usual test methods for validation involving manual tests are not only insufficient nowadays but also unacceptable and dangerous. The cost and time invested are too high, and the risks of relying only on the imperfect human eye and short attention span of a person are unbearable.

With this in mind, we have started developing automated test systems that can remove human error from validation and also reduce test times and costs for ECU manufacturers. This way they can deliver safer, higher performing products to the market faster.

Based on our portfolio and common views, a multinational automotive supplier trusted us with developing a fully automated test system for its lidar product.  

The generic system we developed is called RTStand LV124—derived from the RTStand hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) platform we used and the LV124 norm it automates. The system can be used for lidar tests as well as for any other kind of automotive ECU tests.

 

Figure 1. The RTStand LV124 Hardware Setup

 

The Application

The RTStand LV124’s main feature is that it can run the electrical tests of the LV124/LV148 standards (and their specific OEM derivatives) fully automated, without any human intervention, for any kind of DUT with 8, 24, and 96 pins (plus fieldbus pins), depending on the system variant.

The LV124/LV148 standards describe very different kinds of electrical tests that simulate the very different kinds of disturbances that can happen in a car, from undervoltages (during cold winters) to very short interruptions (due to cable breakage) to overload dumps to short circuits. Any unpredictable behaviour of the ECU during such tests may mean serious accidents in real life under such conditions. The LV124 is also known under different names, according to the OEMs internal rules: BMW GS 95024-2-1, MBN LV 124-1, VW 80000, Chrysler CS-11979, Fiat 9.90110, Hyundai/Kia ES 95400-10, Nissan 28401 NDS 02, Renault 36.00.808/--L, Toyota TSC7203G, Volvo STD 515-0003, and so on.

Usually, various test setups are needed to cover these tests. Centered on four WKS Informatik product developments, all which are built on NI technology, now all the electrical tests can be run with just one setup: RTStand LV124.  

 

Figure 2. The RTStand LV124 Software—User Interface, Test Selection, and Log Display

 

The Core Components

The Tube Analyzer—the measurement and logging device—based on LabVIEW, CompactRIO, and Single-Board RIO technologies, ensures that all ECU pins are monitored and logged in parallel with a precise time synchronization. This is a strong requirement of the LV124 standard, which no other hardware on the market can fulfill in such a way.  

The UFI—the interruption device—needed for the short interruption requirements of the LV124 standard has a remote interface based on NI technology, which makes it the only LV124 switching device on the market that can be completely automated.

The RTStand SignalGeneration—the arbitrary output device—which generates the defined LV124 pulses, is built on LabVIEW and an NI multifunctional device, enabling the automated generation of pulses and allowing the user to define additional custom pulses. We chose the hardware based on the flexibility of the NI multifunctional devices and synchronization options between signal generation, acquisition, and digital control.

RTStand—the open HIL platform and winner of the NI Technical Innovation Award—based on LabVIEW, TestStand, and VeriStand, completes the picture by enabling the full automation and reporting of the whole tests.

 

Figure 3. The RTStand LV124 Core Components (f.l.): Tube Analyzer, RTStand SignalGeneration, and UFI

 

By adding other components and NI-based hardware, according to specific test needs, we can expand the system for various ECU types, from lighting systems, over motors and pumps, to lidar, radar, and camera sensors, all testable with one single system.

 

The Benefits

The main benefits for our customer can be summed up into three categories:

Flexibility  

The RTStand LV124 system covers natively all LV124 tests and works with any other voltage waveform test. Moreover it has high flexibility in the test sequence creation and adaption with TestStand (through RTStand).

The automated climatic chamber control with selection depending on the test (including settings for specific soak time) and the continuous monitoring with corresponding before, during, and after tests, with an appropriate sampling rate, fulfill even the harshest climatic requirements of the LV124 standard.

By being able to easily integrate additional hardware, because of the modular architecture, and by supporting various layouts of its core components, the system can be scaled to all customer needs.

In-Depth

Unlike usual test setups, RTStand LV124 displays the ECU behaviour in the voltage and current waveforms, completely time synchronized. This gives unprecedented insights into the software and hardware performance of the ECU during tests.

Together with the automated report generation, this guarantees that the tests are always performed and documented in the same way, eliminating human error.

Cost Reduction

By being able to test 24/7 and producing automated reports, all the time invested in test preparation, execution, analysis, and documentation are reduced significantly. Moreover, the generic aspect of the system enables a fast reconfiguration for testing new releases and generations of the ECUs.

For our customer, it reduced the testing execution 50 percent, from 25 days to 12 days, and also reduced the analysis and reporting times.

Test costs were also reduced from €300.000 to €150.000 for several new releases.

 

What’s Next?

The impact of the RTStand LV124 systems is highly significant. Several customers across Europe improved their testing quality dramatically, saved costs, and improved the safety of their products, guaranteeing that the automotive industry becomes even safer with every test.

That is why we believe that because of the increasing safety requirements in the automotive industry, the need for such systems will make manual tests in a few years obsolete.  

Our goal is to provide even better and more flexible systems for our customers, helping them to build better performing products that are safe and competitive. A game changer for us and for our customers.

 

Author Information:
Andreea Solomon
WKS Informatik GmbH
Ulmer Strasse 8, 88212 Ravensburg
Germany
Tel: +49 751 36 660 69
andreea.solomon@wks-informatik.de

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