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Volkswagen selects ABBYY software

To improve its automated testing processes, engineers from Volkswagen have introduced ABBYY FineReader OCR technology to verify the content of its infotainment screens


Reliable driver-car communication 
The main communication between driver and vehicle takes place through the Volkswagen Infotainment System. Due to the variety of Volkswagen models and different corresponding equipment options, the testing engineers face great challenges; because of the large amount of software and many new features and functions in the systems, it is not possible to prevent errors from occurring. The logics between features are, in practical terms, very complex and the degree of networking between functions is also very high. Moreover, software updates for various models and display variants in different languages are issued every two weeks. All of this necessitates a thorough testing system to be employed.

In order to pre-test the information that the driver obtains from the infotainment systems while driving, the test engineers set up optical inspection systems. The testing department develops its own verification methods for fully automated tests of individual infotainment components. First, the display contents are captured as an image and then converted into plain text using OCR (text recognition technology). The results are then compared with the existing database and the metadata stored there. If the text does not match the information stored in the verification database, the discrepancies and errors are automatically entered into the logbook.
More exact, more efficient
In the past Volkswagen used other text recognition systems but they had some disadvantages: “In order to differentiate between real errors, and alleged error messages that were based on incorrectly recognized text, we had to continuously optimize and train the text recognition, which was a very time-consuming process,” says Rolf Nissen of the Volkswagen Interactive Electronics Department. The next problem was that display contents with colored text caused many problems in the past, because it was too difficult to differentiate between graphics or actual text.

Finally, since the Interactive Electronics Test Facility also verifies all infotainment systems for Volkswagen markets worldwide, any problems with the system must also be detected in different languages. “For example, Dubai is a very interesting market for Volkswagen. However, the menu navigation for the cars that have been manufactured for this region is only available in English at the moment,” says Nissen. “This will soon change, so that Arabic will also become a part of the testing process.” After looking at the challenges, Volkswagen knew it needed to find a more robust OCR technology in order to better carry out testing. In the search for a suitable solution, the Volkswagen employees came across the ABBYY FineReader Engine software development kit. Volkswagen was quickly convinced of its advantages: high OCR quality and accuracy; up to 198 recognition languages, including Arabic; special functions for pattern training and compiling dictionaries. ABBYY FineReader Engine impressed the testing engineers so much that Volkswagen quickly decided to adopt the solution for its testing process.
From evaluation to application
As a first step, ABBYY FineReader Engine OCR technology was initially evaluated on a set of sample images. The purpose was to determine to what extent the solution could be integrated within Volkswagen’s existing processes. This phase, spaced over many months, was conducted without problems and to the full satisfaction of the client. Volkswagen could then incorporate ABBYY technology into further practical testing at other facilities.

After six weeks of implementation the system was fully operational. As a result, Volkswagen could read and process up to 600,000 characters per day using ABBYY FineReader Engine technology. This vastly increased the quantity of infotainment systems that the department could test each day. Following this success, the new solution was implemented at the remaining 60 testing facilities, so that even more infotainment systems for different makes and models produced by Volkswagen could be tested.

The test department put high demands on the performance of ABBYY FineReader Engine in its testing system. “The results were extremely good. Although we did not measurably tweak the OCR technology, ABBYY FineReader Engine recognized text within complex images straightaway,” explains Serap Askar, manager of the Image Processing Department at the Volkswagen test facility. “The API was so well documented that we could quickly implement the technology at five of our test facilities. The test points that are furnished with the ABBYY FineReader Engine can respond flexibly – even to short-term changes – such as updates to the menu navigation. The results were comprehensible, reproducible and applicable to other environments.”

The optical inspection system based on ABBYY FineReader Engine greatly shortened testing times and also contributed to a major increase in testing accuracy. Finally, the improved quality assurance of the infotainment systems also resulted in Volkswagen customer satisfaction.

July 16, 2015


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