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Comprehensive ECU Testing Using Simulation Tools

Kunihiro SAKAI* Yukihiro NISSATO* Masahiro KANEDA*

Automotive onboard electronic control units (ECU) need to be exhaustively tested for performance in a dynamic environment corresponding to the actual vehicle-mounted condition before
starting mass production. On the other hand, there is a growing need to develop highly reliable
software in a shorter time to reduce the development period. To meet these needs, we have introduced the Hardware In the Loop Simulation (HILS) in testing processes.
By implementing a Vehicle model into an HILS environment, it is possible to conduct integrated
network testing corresponding to the actual vehicle-mounted condition in a bench test environment. Also, with the automatic test programming software embedded in HILS, it is possible to not
only conduct functional testing, but also automatically carry out systematic real-time simulation of
troubleshooting on open circuits and other electrical faults as well as abnormal communication.
Key words: HILS, Integrated Network Testing, Automatic Test

1. Introduction
3. Features of the HILS
Electronic control of automobiles using ECUs is
becoming increasingly complicated and diverse.
Onboard electronic control systems are playing an evergreater role and this trend is expected to continue. It is
therefore imperative to radically improve the efficiency
of software verification processes in order to be able to
quickly assure the quality of ECU software. This paper
describes a HILS-based test environment that we have
developed for efficient ECU software verification and

2. System architecture
The HILS environment was developed based on the
electronic platform of the OUTLANDER and in consideration of future scalability. The OUTLANDER employs
more than 20 onboard ECUs, so a total of five racks
were prepared and each rack was connected to an ECU
being tested (Fig. 1). The operating environment for
each of these ECUs can be tailored by incorporating an
appropriate I/O board and an FIU (Failure Insertion Unit)
that generates open and short circuits into the rack. The
racks were connected with each other via optical cables,
and real-time processors mounted on the racks enabled
high-speed communication between the racks. The
HILS structure described above represented a virtual
The HILS is controlled by a personal computer (PC).
Simulation data generated by the control PC are calculated by a processor board on which the vehicle model
is embedded, and an I/O board sends and receives signals to/from the ECUs. In this HILS environment, the
ECUs operate in the same way as those mounted on a
real vehicle, and the operations are monitored by the
control PC (Fig. 2).

Electronics Engineering Dept., Development Engineering Office


3.1 Automatic testing

The greatest benefit of the HILS is automatic testing.
Test procedures that have conventionally been performed manually by test engineers are compiled into a
program, which can then be run automatically by simply pressing the execute key on the control PC.
Automatic testing offers the following benefits.
Efficient stress test for software
More efficient analysis
Application to regression test
Unmanned long-running test
Software testing requires numerous input/output
combinations and precise operating conditions. With
the HILS, test programs can be completely sequenced
in various ways and so stress tests with complicated
subroutines and long-running repetitions can be run
automatically and efficiently. Test programs that have
been produced are stored in a test-project database and
can be retrieved and re-run when needed, which substantially improves the efficiency of related analyses.
When large-scale software has been modified,
regression testing must be conducted to find out
whether the change may have caused unexpected
impacts elsewhere. In this case, test programs managed by HILS can be used to efficiently complete the
required regression tests. Numerous test programs
need to be run in development projects. As HILS can
perform the unmanned long-running testing, it helps
minimize the work load on test engineers. The automatic test programming software embedded in HILS
allows test engineers to construct complicated
sequences on the graphical user interface, and so do
not need to write the program code themselves. This
also improves testing efficiency (Fig. 3).

Comprehensive ECU Testing Using Simulation Tools

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

External view of HILS

System overview
Fig. 3

3.2 Supply voltage fluctuation simulation using a

power source simulator
ECU faults tend to occur more often during supply
voltage fluctuations. To simulate supply voltage fluctuations corresponding to those in a real vehicle, we
employed a dedicated power source simulator and
linked it with the HILS to generate desired voltage waveforms. This offers a HILS option in which a lot of different supply voltage wave forms can be automatically
generated for simulation.
3.3 Open/short circuit simulation using FIUs
In recent years, a range of failsafe functions and
DTCs (Diagnostic Trouble Codes) have been embedded
in ECUs to offer more sophisticated diagnostic capabilities. Therefore, we developed an HILS architecture
capable of monitoring ECU operation during fault
occurrence and checking for fault codes generated.
This was done by incorporating FIUs (Failure Insertion
Units) into the HILS. FIUs are capable of automatically

Automatic test programming software

(Automation Desk by dSPACE GmbH)

generating electrical faults, such as an open circuit of a

signal line and a short circuit to ground or power source
(Fig. 4).
To enable fault code monitoring, dedicated diagnostic tool was linked to the HILS, by which fault codes can
be read automatically from ECUs.
3.4 Communication simulation using CAN gateway
The diagnostic feature embedded in ECUs can
detect not only hardware faults but also communication
errors. Therefore, it is necessary to check the behavior
and fault codes of ECUs when an unusual data is
received. For this purpose, a gateway unit was incorporated in the HILS for intentionally altering the data
communicated between the ECUs to simulate abnormal
communication (Fig. 5).


Comprehensive ECU Testing Using Simulation Tools

Fig. 4

Failure Insertion Unit (FIU)

4. The future
The HILS architecture capable of conducting simulated comprehensive ECU testing in a bench test environment better than that on an actual vehicle was developed. The automatic test programming software
embedded in the system, however, has been produced
in accordance with the conventional test standards and
needs to be reviewed from new perspectives. In other
words, software test methods that are built along software test standards need to be introduced in the HILS
to cover all software codes being tested entirely with
fewer test cases.

Fig. 5

CAN gateway

efforts to develop new HILS-based test methods based

on test strategy and thus improve the reliability of
Finally, we sincerely thank all those within and outside of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) who
assisted the development of our system.

5. Conclusion
Real-time simulation on a virtual vehicle offers benefits of improved efficiency of testing and lower development costs. CAE systems are an example of this, and
are indispensable for the development of vehicle control technologies. In order to help ensure the quality of
complicated, large-scale software, we will make further
Kunihiro SAKAI


Yukihiro NISSATO

Masahiro KANEDA