How to Develop Automotive-Specific Conformance Testing Standards with BroadR-Reach Ethernet

Vehicle manufacturers have to stand behind their products in a way rarely faced by the IT industry. This places a unique emphasis on network protocol conformance testing throughout the supply chain—particularly when it comes to implementing BroadR-Reach® Ethernet.

Why conformance matters in automotive networks

Ethernet in a carIn the IT sector, OEMs can simply buy hardware and software that has been signed off as conforming to established protocol standards. But the same standards don’t apply to automotive components; Open Alliance BroadR-Reach Ethernet (OABR) is a new standard, albeit built on existing technology.

Moreover, with brand perception all-important, no automotive manufacturer could get away with blaming its supplier for a safety-critical fault. It’s no surprise then that the auto industry wants control over its own tests rather than relying on third parties; particularly as OABR will inevitably come into contact with safety-critical functions. But how is this accomplished?

The challenges of automotive-specific testing

Usually the standard conformance tests used in IT are automated and inflexible. But automotive network components are different so, conventional IT tests can be irrelevant to the automotive system or contain functions that the system can’t perform. For example, most vehicle electronic control units are unable to send a “ping” to the test system, which under standard tests would be considered a fail. In fact, of the 640 ETSI-specified test cases for IPv6, about two thirds are not applicable to an automotive system. One size fits all definitely does not work in this case.

That means a customized, automotive-specific solution is required. Ideally this will be able to skip steps, or define which are non-critical; build relevant management language into the test environment and ultimately establish new, auto-specific standards that can be passed on to suppliers.

Setting new standards

Spirent has been working closely with automotive manufacturers to overcome the testing challenges of OABR. We have created a tailored version of our Spirent TestCenter, based on the well-established TTworkbench, which can automate the full range of vehicle-relevant test steps within a single tool. This means bespoke automotive tests can be combined with existing IETF/IEEE standards for a fully customized testing routine for each specific application.

Conformance testing, negative testing, and performance testing can all be automated from within a single tool, and particular steps can be weighted according to how critical they are.

In time, industry standards will be set, and Spirent will be working every step of the way to provide the tools and support that are needed.

For a more in-depth look at Broad-R Reach conformance testing, Spirent has a white paper available. Join us to discuss automotive network testing on LinkedIn.

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