How Simulation Testing Helps Guarantee Safety and Performance of New High-Speed Network Systems in the Car

How simulation testing helps guarantee safety of Automotive network systems

The car as entertainment console. The car as internet terminal. The car as autonomous travel appliance. Our concept of what a car is and what it does is being turned upside down, and it is advanced communications, sensing and control technology which is causing the disruption.

At the core of the new vision of automotive design is data. In modern vehicles, huge amounts of data move around the car, and between the car and the outside world: movies are streamed to high-definition displays in the rear headrests, radar ranging signals support collision avoidance systems, and surround-view cameras feed multiple images to the driver information display.

Legacy automotive networking technologies, such as CAN, LIN and MOST, simply do not offer the bandwidth and speed to support this huge amount of traffic. So the automotive industry has turned to Ethernet, the high-speed networking technology which connects PCs and workstations to servers in millions of offices around the world, to carry data around the car.

The networking requirements of a car are not the same as those of an office PC, however. In a car, safety and quality of service are critical. For instance, the radar signals detecting that a car is approaching the vehicle in front dangerously fast have to be received with zero latency. And the images from multiple cameras that are stitched together to make a surround-view image must be synchronized with split-second precision.

So automakers are starting to adopt a flavor of Ethernet called Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN). TSN is a set of protocols intended to guarantee the availability, latency and bandwidth of safety- and mission-critical networks. In theory, a network built with elements that conform to the TSN standards will ensure the reliable and timely transmission of data to safety, entertainment and information systems.

Does it do so in practice, though? Car makers and automotive system OEMs have to be sure that the Ethernet TSN networks they design and manufacture conform to the TSN standards, and that – in any foreseeable circumstances – they behave in a way that maintains quality of service and ensures the safety of the driver, passengers and other road users.

Various methods are available for testing and verifying network performance. In the automotive industry, the most commonly used form of testing for automotive systems is the drive test. But drive testing only exposes a network system to the limited range of operating conditions encountered in any given drive test program.

In the world of enterprise computing, simulation testing is the preferred method for testing and verifying network performance. The benefits of simulation testing with a dedicated network simulation tester apply equally to automotive systems:

  • test conditions are readily reproducible
  • operating environment is completely controllable – user can choose the types and amounts of data to be transmitted, amount of bandwidth to be allocated to each type, number of nodes, etc.
  • results may be easily viewed and analyzed, and the test set-up modified using an intuitive test configuration tool

Spirent Automotive C1     Spirent Automotive C50

Any operating conditions that can be imagined may be tested with the use of a simulation tester such as the Spirent Automotive C1 or Spirent Automotive C50 and their supporting test suites and software. This test equipment allows automotive manufacturers to leave nothing to chance, and to verify in the laboratory network behavior that might be hard or impossible to test on the road.

A detailed explanation of the benefits of simulation testing for manufacturers of TSN network equipment, and practical examples of simulation test use cases, may be found in a new Spirent white paper on automotive Ethernet TSN testing. Download it today to find out about the way the computer industry’s proven test methods may be successfully deployed in the car industry.

Learn more about how Spirent is working with the auto industry to help implement automotive Ethernet successfully.


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