Connected Test Platforms for Multi-Domain Validation of Complex Systems
Many emerging engineering objects belong to such advanced concepts as complex networked systems, smart systems, and systems of systems. Their development calls for a distinctive paradigm shift towards novel design, control and testing methods that should consider interdisciplinary knowledge processing, continuously increased number of information flows and communication channels. One of key points here is also a demand for new research instruments enabling multi-domain validation of complex functionality. In this regard, traditional instruments as model-in-the-loop, software-in-the-loop, hardware-in-the-loop, and stand-alone test setups can stumble on limits of their possibilities. An advanced solution lies in remotely connected, distributed, and shared test platforms from different technological domains. The platforms under discussion can cover (but are not limited to) component test rigs, dynamometers, software simulators and other variants of experimental infrastructures. Real-time running of specific test scenarios simultaneously on all connected platforms/devices with the same real-time models of objects and operating environments allows exploring interdependencies between various physical processes that can be hardly identified or even unexpected on the design development stage.
This topic is in the focus of several studies at the Automotive Engineering Group of TU Ilmenau, where connected test platforms are being used for multi-domain validation of electrified and automated vehicles as complex systems. The overall concept is based on a flexible architecture, Figure 1, offering different mechanisms structured in layers. The highest layer represents the application (a test platform). On the second level, an interface (e.g. the Functional Mock-Up Interface) is used for mapping the exchanged signals. The next layer represents the native communication protocol of the application. The last layer supports two gateway functionalities. The first gateway functionality provides the translation of communication protocols, for example, the translation of CAN messages to UDP/IP datagrams and way back. The second gateway functionality refers to the routing and transportation of data in a network. Depending on the distance between the systems, a Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN) for local communication and Virtual Private Network (VPN) for distributed systems can be used.
The proposed architecture is realised now for the local and remote testing environments. The local testing environment is established in the Ilmenau campus, Figure 2, and unites different test setups in four locations. This configuration enables comprehensive studies, for instance, on design methods for electric vehicles with multiple powertrains and active chassis systems. It makes possible to evaluate in real-time the interplay between electrical processes in powertrain components and tribological phenomena in brakes and tyres that is of crucial importance by the development of brake blending, torque vectoring and other safety-critical complex systems of electric vehicle. With the use of connected test platforms, the development time for such systems can be also considerably reduced. The remote testing environment connects the local platforms in Ilmenau campus with test facilities situated by research partners, Figure 3. As it was demonstrated in recent studies of Automotive Engineering Group, modern Internet communications ensure sufficient robustness and response speed for joint real-time validation experiments. Actual use cases for the remote testing environment cover design methodologies for integrated vehicle dynamics control, fail-safety as well as comfort studies on the user acceptance of prospective active chassis systems of highly automated vehicles.
The introduced approach has a plug-in realisation for including various test platforms/devices and easy on-demand access to the test programmes for developers, engineers, and researchers. This can bring a vast impact to the automotive design community through connecting experimental environments around the world. Nowadays, any research field involves different academic and industrial groups, and they have different access to state-of-the-art experimental facilities. Many researchers in this regard are suffering from limited opportunities to verify and validate their ideas and methods in connection to the real-world objects. The connected and shared testing platforms can give a vivid example for inclusion, consolidation and uniting of interdisciplinary and intersectoral R&D efforts for solving complex scientific and engineering tasks.
 V. Schreiber et al., “Novel Developing Environment for Automated and Electrified Vehicles using Remote and Distributed X-in-the-Loop Technique,” 2020 IEEE Vehicle Power and Propulsion Conference (VPPC), 2020, pp. 1-5.
 V. Ivanov et al. “Connected and Shared X-in-the-loop Technologies for Electric Vehicle Design,“ World Electric Vehicle Journal, vol. 10, no. 4, p. 83, 2019.
Acknowledgement: These studies are performed with the funding support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreements No. 824333.