Automotive engineers at the recent SAE Convergence 2010
conference in Detroit
said they are increasingly employing model-based design in the development of vehicle
electronics, ranging from engine and transmission controllers to body
controllers and battery management modules.
At a press
conference sponsored by The Mathworks,
engineers from General Motors, Lear Corp. and Tata Technologies, Ltd. said
they are now using model-based design for prototyping of electronic
controllers, including development of software algorithms and auto-generation
of code, as well as verification and validation of those products.
typical program, we can save 40 percent in the development phase and 60 percent in validation
by using model-based design," noted Jason Bauman, engineering manager for
systems integration engineering at Lear Corp. "Typically, we'll also have zero
defects on our ECU (electronic control unit) products." Lear recently used The
software to develop body controllers, alarm systems, battery management modules
and interior lighting systems for Ford Motor Co. vehicles.
say the move toward model-based design has naturally evolved from the
computer-aided design techniques of the 1980s. A decade ago, many engineers still
created control systems by talking to customers, writing assembly code, and
then testing the design by physically flipping switches on a prototype. More
recently, however, model-based design has given engineers a mathematical and
visual methodology to develop embedded software for the creation of complex
control systems. In the automotive world, the digital simulation of such
systems has enabled automotive teams to create and test features before they
build a prototype.
the case for General Motors in the development of the Chevy Volt. GM
engineering teams said they employed model-based design and simulation in the
prototyping of the Volt's propulsion and battery management systems, even as
the technology was barely emerging from the research stage.
on the Volt's development without having the battery technology in place yet,"
noted Karla J. Wallace, senior manager for electronics engineering, integration
and software. Wallace said that GM started modeling with Simulink, then
graduated to Real-Time
Workshop Embedded Coder to create the C code that went into the Volt's
electronic control system.
built a four-passenger city car called the Nano by making heavy use of model-based
design. The India-based automaker said it employed Simulink, Real-Time Workshop
and Stateflow for
the creation of the Nano's engine management system and powertrain controller.
it mostly in the prototyping stages," said Prasanta Sarkar, project manager for
Tata Technologies. "We used it for the prototyping of an ECU for a continuously
variable transmission, and we've seen huge benefits in testing and validation."
and suppliers at the press conference also agreed that model-based techniques
have laid the groundwork for future projects. "It has increased our efficiency
because we don't have to keep re-interpreting requirements over and over
again," Wallace said. "The C code can be seamlessly integrated into other
systems. It becomes a re-usable asset."
The rear window on Ford's Lightweight Concept vehicle, based on the Fusion model, is made with a material combination devised by SABIC that saves 35% of the weight. The car's overall weight is 25% lighter than a standard production 2013 Fusion.
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