Today’s automobiles are chock full of electronics, under the hood, inside the doors, and in the cockpit. These electronic systems enable automakers to reduce wiring costs, make driving safer, and improve the end-user experience. The technology required to do this is very complex, and must operate in a very tough electrical environment. To ensure that today’s sophisticated electronic controls and consumer electronics operate in such a hostile environment, you need to simulate that environment in the lab.
Automakers and suppliers, such as JLR, Ford, GM, VW, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have published standards for robustness testing and EMC compliance testing. These include:
- ISO 16750
- General Motors GMW3172
- Ford CI210, 220, 260, 270
- Mercedes-Benz LV124
- Jaguar LandRover CI210, 220, 230, 265
- BMW, VW, and others
While these standards attempt to define test conditions that will ensure that automotive electronics will work reliably in the real world, they cannot realistically guarantee 100% reliability. What we recommend is that you use robustness testing techniques to gain a better understanding of how your electronics behave at both the system level and component level.
For example, a very effective robustness testing technique for ECUs and other electronics is to apply pseudo-random electrical noise to power supply lines. If you do this kind of testing early in the design cycle of an electronic controller, and find that your design is susceptible to noise, you can fix the problem and avoid expensive redesign later.
Traditional techniques for low-voltage testing really needs to move forward to be able to cope with complex architectures. Randomization is about testing for those unexpected circumstances that normally will not be tested for, and therefore, not found. Randomization then leads to an exhaustive search of possible problem areas.
Once you’ve identified that your electronics is susceptible to noise, you will need to repeat the test conditions accurately repeatably to troubleshoot the problem. By using test equipment that uses pseudo-random techniques to vary both the slew rate and amplitude of noise voltages, you not only perform an effective test, but also repeatably cause a unit under test to fail. Using pseudo-random techniques, you can play any profile in a massively long series from any point in time – so failures can be repeated much more easily and in much less time.
The LVTGO-VBS is a family of low-voltage, battery-simulators designed to run robustness tests and EMC compliance tests. Companies such as Valeo, Yazaki, Alpine, Autoliv, Denso, MIRA, and Panasonic Automotive are using these simulators to ensure that their products comply with the standards, and more importantly, work in the real world.