Computer Testing For Autonomous Vehicles

Test platform provides mixed signal functional test capabilities to validate the balance of computing power and sensor inputs in the complex world of autonomous vehicles.

❱ ❱ Modular, rack-mounted test platform provides the flexibility needed to cope with the complex testing requirements of connected autonomous vehicles

networks, digital protocols, sensor interfaces and power consumption capabilities. This test platform, scalable to production, is ideal for testing the custom supercomputers that will enable the deployment of CAVs as commercially available vehicles in the years to come. According to Chad Chesney, general manager and vice president, Transportation at NI, the company has more than 40 years experience of working with teams on projects for automating verification and validation (V&V) test systems. “NI is a trusted adviser for helping test engineering groups maximise test effectiveness, enabling them to release quality products efficiently and confidently,” he says.


ational Instruments (NI) has developed a system that’s capable of testing the computing platform for the new generation of connected autonomous vehicles (CAVs). CAVs are amongst the most complex systems

being tested today and at the centre of the latest generation of automotive technology is a powerful computing platform that analyses the environment around the vehicle and determines the appropriate action to help ensure the safety of the car and its surroundings. As automotive companies design and build their own CAV supercomputers that combine automotive-specific networks and sensors with consumer electronic components for this computing platform, a critical balance must be struck between high computing power and adequate efficiency.

FLEXIBLE TEST PLATFORM Validating this balance in the computing hardware requires a flexible test platform that can continually be adapted through software. By working with major customers in the automotive industry, NI has proven that it can meet the challenges of today and tomorrow with a single platform for testing automotive

HOLISTIC TESTING APPROACH One of the challenges presented by the notion of providing such a comprehensive approach to testing something as complex as a CAV was the delivery of a test platform that is fully integrated. To meet this challenge, NI’s system for testing the complex computing platform consists of modular hardware with a configurable set of I/O that includes power measurements, thermal performance, automotive networks, sensor interfaces and PCB electrical measurements. Legacy systems and “home grown” solutions tend to approach all these aspects of testing separately. This leads to test benches being crowded with equipment with its associated complexity of connectivity and configuration. This approach also has the disadvantage of being inflexible with difficulties in reconfiguring to be able to cope with changing test requirements or additional tests. The NI platform has a modular design with all of the required

features, instruments and other equipment residing in a standard industrial rack arrangement. The inherent flexibility of the modular design of the test system means that automotive test teams can add measurement capabilities to the test system without buying a new system or starting from scratch. In addition, the PXI-based modular rack-mounted test system has a much smaller footprint than that of a system composed of benchtop instruments. Overall, this holistic platform approach simplifies system complexity and reduces the burden on test teams to integrate disparate pieces of test equipment.

RACING TO AUTONOMY The intensely competitive automotive industry is currently engaged in a race to achieve commercially viable autonomy. The technology is complex and makes use of the constantly changing state of the art in computing and communications technology. Having a flexible, highly configurable testing platform for such a complex computing environment could provide one of the performance advantages that determines the outcome of such an intense race.

Electronics Testing 2019 /// 13

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