Perfectly Proven Electronics

Perfectly Proven Electronics

ŠKODA WORLD INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

To ensure that the car’s electronic equipment works together as it should, integration tests are carried out at special stands. Check it out.

19. 7. 2022

In recent years, the number of control units, sensors and electronic devices in new cars has increased significantly. The specific number depends on the customer’s wishes and car configuration, and there are so many possible combinations that they cannot even be tested in conventional prototypes. In addition, before the first prototypes are launched, the developers must ensure that the basic functions controlled by the electronics, including the brakes, will work. That is why our Technical Development department, in cooperation with Digiteq Automotive, uses special test stands to verify the functions of electronics.

Integration tests for the ENYAQ iV require three “breadboards” and one HiL.

They are called HiL (Hardware-in-the-Loop) and breadboard. The former is used to test the functionality that the control units create, and the latter focuses on testing the functionality of data communication among control units. To the layman’s eye, both test conditions look basically the same: They are workstations where all the car’s (low-voltage) electronics are mounted in frames. 

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Approximately this number of control units was present in the second-generation OCTAVIA in 2005, when the carmaker began its comprehensive integration tests.

The control units are connected by special wiring to “probes” that monitor communications and important data but can also send their own signals that either simulate certain commands and functions or, conversely, deliberately create errors. “We test not only whether the control units communicate with each other as they should but also how they will behave if some unexpected situation, failure or malfunction occurs,” explains Lukáš Zavadil from Test Management and Integration Tests Midsize/MEB.

Control units are connected using special cabling with “probes”.

Increasing number of tests

The testing of a car that is still in development starts even before the first prototypes are built and gradually increases in intensity and scope. “We start with basic tests in the area of the power unit, and as the development of the car progresses, we gradually add tests of comfort functions and assistance systems up to complete tests. Before building the first pre-production cars, we test the complete functionality of the car,” says Zavadil. In current projects, the testing phase is extended until the car is launched on the market. “This is because mobile online services also need to be verified in terms of integration. The software for remote control of the car’s functions via a mobile phone or web portal is often developed up to the moment of the sales launch,” explains the developer. 

Complete tests of one car under development take about two years. During that time, thousands of automated but also manual tests are completed. “We have robots that press buttons, and we simulate some commands, but we still wish to retain that human interaction. We also cooperate with Digiteq Automotive on these activities,” adds Lukáš Zavadil.

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Or more control units are featured by the current ŠKODA models.

During the testing process, the software of the controllers is gradually improved. In total, hundreds of configurations are tested, and in order to be able to keep up with everything at any given time, they use one HiL and two so-called breadboards for every project, and even three breadboards for an electric car like the ENYAQ iV. All the car’s functions are tested. “For example, we test something as seemingly obvious as the functionality of the warning flashers. This is, nowadays, influenced by six to eight control units, which have to agree with each other in every situation where the warning flashers are required to be activated,” says Zavadil. 

Currently, the ENYAQ iV and ENYAQ COUPÉ iV feature the highest number of electronic devices, control units and sensors that are being tested.

This applies both to situations where the driver activates the flashers himself and to cases where they are activated automatically – for example, in the case of panic braking or automatic emergency stops. “We’re also testing other basic functions of the headlights in terms of integration in a car, including that they do not switch on in situations where they may not or should not be switched on. In the ENYAQ iV model, we also have the Crystal Face to consider,” adds Zavadil.

In 2005, the entire system in the ŠKODA OCTAVIA was noticeably smaller.

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