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Martin Bayer, director of testing solutions at MicroNova, believes that the current V-Model of vehicle development will be replaced by more agile approaches in future

We are currently seeing three major trends in the international automotive industry: autonomous driving, the connected car, and vehicle electrification. These trends are creating completely new types of challenges for automotive developers and hence test departments. New degrees of freedom will make testing significantly more complex in the future, while less time will be available for it. We expect current development cycles of up to seven years to halve to three-and-a-half years, or decrease by even more. Quality is playing an increasingly safety-critical role with the introduction of ever more intelligent functions to the vehicle.

Current processes urgently need to be adapted in order to satisfy high quality standards while time limitations intensify. Considerably more agile approaches should replace the strict V-Model of development, or at least greatly extend it.

Regulatory challenges
The influence of legislation around the world on the way tests will be performed in future is relatively small. For example, there are as yet no binding standards for driverless cars. This makes it a very complex task to make cars reliably safe for the global market. However, there are of course calls for safety levels, backed up by defined safety standards such as ASIL. They are a pre-requisite for planning reliability for investments in necessary new testing equipment. Crucial for the breakthrough of autonomous driving will be the speed at which global legislation can introduce the appropriate regulations. The sooner this happens, the faster the requirements for validating a completely driverless car can be implemented.

Virtualization is key
MicroNova has created a new base for its testing platform, NovaCarts, for control units in order to meet the challenges already mentioned both currently and in the future. The end-to-end software platform for powerful MIL, SIL and HIL testing systems allows for almost any test scenario right through to networked integration testing.

In addition, preparatory work and test results can be re-used across all stages of development and testing. Test engineers can use NovaCarts to identify errors at a very early stage, thereby preventing unnecessary cycle times. The central platform design allows closer and more efficient collaboration between suppliers and OEM departments, which also saves time. As NovaCarts uses many more virtualization tools, such as MiL and SiL test tools, it is also extremely easy to scale the test effort very quickly. What is more, we deliberately decided on the systematic support for – and facilitation of – standards and, consequently, modular tool environments. This allows a gradual migration to the test world of tomorrow that can be implemented easily in practice.

Open-loop and closed-loop tests for all common types of sensor and central control devices can already be performed today. At MicroNova we plan to further develop the field of virtualization, given the many kilometers that need to be covered in order to ensure safety in this environment. It will be essential to be able to conduct regression testing for new software versions rapidly and efficiently without having to invest unnecessary time and money in physical test benches and real driving tests.

In addition, we see increasing demands particularly in the field of the connected car as a result of more agile development methods. This would allow third-party vehicle applications to be tested, certified, and put into operation more rapidly. A further application is complex test scenarios that will result from a massive increase in the number of software variants. For this purpose, we are preparing to incorporate continuous integration and automatic build functions into NovaCarts.

In conclusion, one thing can be said with certainty: the main challenge in future will be to cover greater amounts of testing in a shorter space of time without compromising on quality.

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