The internet has now come to the automobile, bringing connectivity for infotainment, telematics and vehicle data analytics. The connected car is rapidly becoming a key node in the emerging Internet of Things. While connected car technology is a delight for car buyers, it poses unprecedented new engineering challenges for car manufacturers of reliability, safety and security.
As we rely more and more on connectivity of cars, many potential problems could emerge from faulty connected car technology. E.g. connection interruptions, display malfunctions, signal interference, and expensive failure of sensitive electronic hardware under heat and harsh conditions within vehicles. Imagine getting lost while driving in an unknown city due to GPS signal loss. Or the frustration of being unable to operate the air conditioner on a hot day because the car’s touch screen interface has difficulty recognizing the touch of sweaty fingers. Connected car technology also opens doors to much more serious, unprecedented problems, such as cyber security holes and software bugs that could lead to potentially fatal safety issues.
Core connected car technologies include communication systems, displays and human-machine interfaces (HMIs), in-vehicle networks, sensors and power systems. On May 17th, SAE International will be hosting a webinar to further discuss this topic. Please make sure you register, I think you’ll find some great insights on this topic and the challenges I list below.
Main engineering challenges in ensuring reliable and safe operation of connected car technology are as follows:
Sensing and Connectivity
Ensuring reliable operation of the hundreds of sensors in a connected car throughout the lifetime of a vehicle requires careful evaluation of the underlying sensor physics over the entire gamut of operating conditions the sensor is expected to encounter.
Similarly, a detailed understanding of antenna physics and radiation patterns is essential to ensure uninterrupted connectivity of connected car technology. For instance, whether placed in the driver’s left or right pocket or somewhere else in the vehicle, a smartphone should remain connected with the Bluetooth antenna of the central console. This can only be ensured by a detailed simulation of the antenna radiation patterns, including consideration of obstructions caused by all possible objects within the confined vehicle cabin space.
Reliability and Safety
Connected car software is highly susceptible to bugs and glitches, with millions of lines of interconnected code created by many different suppliers and organizations. Developing software to the ISO 26262 functional safety standard therefore requires detailed software life-cycle management, comprehensive validation and thorough verification. Using ISO 26262 qualified software development tools and qualified code generators drastically reduces software development effort, expense and time, while greatly increasing the confidence level in the generated code.
Developing electronics systems for connected cars is much more challenging than for smartphones and other high-tech devices because of harsher operating conditions and longer life expectancy. Ensuring durability over a long life span requires thorough design for thermal and structural integrity of chips, boards, packages, connectors, cables, antennas, displays, and all other electronic components.
The Value of a Consolidated Simulation Platform
Engineering simulation is a key enabler in solving the engineering challenges of connected car technology. Simulation enables vehicle makers and suppliers to virtually test vehicle systems and components with the precision of fundamental physics for scores of test scenarios, early in the product development phase, even before the first physical prototype is built.
Many vehicle companies use simulation today. However, the best-in-class among them have recognized that there is more to be gained by consolidating on a single cross-functional simulation platform to address the highly interdependent nature of connected car engineering challenges. As reported by the Aberdeen Group in a recent study, by consolidating their simulation tools, best-in-class companies are 37 percent more likely to reduce their product development time and 24 percent more likely to meet product launch targets when compared with those who continue to use non-consolidated, disparate simulation tools.
What’s more, organizations that provide their product design teams with a consolidated and integrated simulation platform to take a holistic and cross functional approach realize a 9x overall decrease in product development time and a 4x reduction in overall product cost.
A consolidated simulation platform for connected car technology needs to deliver integrated solutions for the following applications.
Antenna Design & Placement
ANSYS accurately simulates the performance of antennas, both as components and when integrated into the vehicle and its surroundings. A range of solvers are available to use depending on the scale of the problem and fidelity of results desired. Here are just two examples.
Volvo Trucks: GPS telematics unit placement
Also read this article from the ANSYS Advantage discussing Fiat-Chrysler: EMI-EMC – Automotive electromagnetic interference and compatibility can be determined more efficiently using new technologywithin ANSYS HFSS.
The ANSYS simulation platform includes special solvers and detailed noise models for ICs along with channel models of package and board to perform thorough power integrity and signal integrity simulations. Two examples in this area:
Molex: Insertion loss, return loss and TDR of a connector
ANSYS’ simulation platform provides tools to address a broad spectrum of power management challenges in connected car technology. These include optimizing power consumption and integrity in the system, as well as wireless charging of brought-in devices such as smartphones.
Whether sensors are of the Hall effect, variable reluctance, magneto-resistive, flux gate, eddy current or other variety, the ANSYS simulation platform provides detailed models and capabilities to simulate the underlying physics to help engineers develop robust and reliable sensors.
The ANSYS simulation platform not only simulates hardware but also embedded software. ANSYS SCADE (Safety Critical Application Development Environment) – a model-based embedded software development tool including a built-in automatic code generator – is ISO 26262 qualified up to ASIL-D and AUTOSAR compliant, and it drastically reduces software development and testing effort.
Designing for Harsh Environments
ANSYS’ simulation platform includes best-in-class fluid, thermal, and structural solvers to virtually test products in simulated harsh environments such as jarring vibrations and high heat loads inside cars. Such simulations ensure the product’s correct operation under all circumstances, and ensures that it is durable enough to last throughout the life of the vehicle.