Earlier this month, National Instruments (NI) opened its new Engineering Innovation Center in Novi, Michigan, where it will work with suppliers and manufacturers on reliability and quality testing of EV and AV components, such as battery cells and packs and ADAS sub-systems. Housing a raft of equipment, the asset offers solutions for testing functionality, which is becoming more and more important as vehicle software and technology complexity increases.
Drita Roggenbuck, SVP and GM of NI’s transportation business unit, said, “The Metro Detroit area has long been the North American epicenter for the automotive industry and as the standards for this technology continue to evolve, NI saw a need for its clients to collaborate, innovate and build systems with our experts. We designed this facility to enable our customers to collaborate directly on how NI’s EV and ADAS test solutions can accelerate time to market and ensure automotive-grade quality.”
As the auto sector continues to rapidly change with evolving governmental regulations, consumer demands and other trends, new approaches for electric vehicle powertrain and ADAS testing are more important than ever.
Roggenbuck said, “The Innovation Center was designed to enable customers to quickly pivot, collaborate and build customized systems, ensuring they are flexible for the rapidly changing future. NI’s open system and scalability mean that not only can the manpower pivot to meet these changes but so will the test systems.”
Auto makers are in need of large-scale battery validation facilities, however, scaling up is a challenge and calls for specific laboratory equipment.
“At this facility, our team can help with the challenge of finding effective ways to test a battery and help customers overcome problems that emerge in the form of managing the lab, managing the power in the lab, managing all the equipment in the lab, and managing all the data that is being produced.”
NI offers support in various forms – from helping clients focus on ensuring everything is consistently reported to creating harmonized data formats that save customers’ time when comparing and analyzing data.
“Our software-defined test tools help customers evolve and integrate their complex systems with analytical tools to draw valuable insights from their data. Our hardware-in-the-loop test systems increase coverage and shorten test time by moving the bulk of testing from the road to the lab through simulation. Especially when tasked with testing against infinite scenarios, NI’s connected ADAS and AD workflow and data management solutions enable customers to validate the sensor and software performance of the entire vehicle more efficiently,” Roggenbuck noted.
NI employs around 40 specialists in the Detroit area, and this headcount is expected to grow.
At approximately 12,000ft2 , the resource is said to blend concepts from modern office layouts with a design that fosters customer collaboration. There are four dedicated equipment labs, with space and power layouts for battery, power conversion, and an ADAS garage. These collaboration spaces are complemented by modular work areas, reconfigurable meeting space, and dedicated secure space for NI partners to work.
According to Roggenbuck, the build was a fast-paced project, beginning in August 2022 and completed in February 2023.
Asked what the most difficult element of the project was from a facilities standpoint, Roggenbuck said, “We collaborated with a talented team consisting of the landlord, General Contractor, UTAC, the Battery Innovation Center, and experts from the NI transportation team. If a question or concern presented itself, we were able to find solutions that aligned the project for success.”
- Battery cell/module test with high power cycler and environmental chamber
- Cell quality test
- Power analysis
Power conversion lab:
- Signal-level inverter HIL
Vehicle software and electronics lab:
- ALIARO automotive electronics HIL
- Automotive ECU production test
- Desktop HIL of truck mirror ECU
- ADAS/AD record in Valeo Car
- ADAS data ingest with SeaGate
- ADAS HIL
- SEA V2X sniffer
- Radar production test