Addressing Engineering Challenges of Increasingly Complex Automobiles

Three key changes in automotive technology are transforming cars into complex electronic machines than mechanical machines. From an engineering perspective, this suggests that virtually every a part of the car is undergoing major redesign. As an example , the door lock apparatus, which wants to be a little robot , has now been replaced by the new electronic Passive Entry System which is comprised of electronic sensors, controllers, actuators, and advanced software algorithms that are far more complex. 

First, government regulations for fuel economy and consumer appetite for greener vehicles are pushing auto-makers to feature electric drives to vehicles. Secondly, the quantity of electronic sensors, actuators and controllers in vehicles are growing rapidly to require the performance, safety and luxury of vehicles to new heights like in driverless cars. Thirdly, as consumer use of smart electronics is on the increase, we’re also seeing an uptick within the demand for more infotainment devices and smart interfaces in cars.

While these modernizations are a delight to customers, they’re giving anxiety to automotive executives who are worried about the rising complexity of auto engineering. The probabilities of an engineer failing to uncover and address potential catastrophes are directly proportional to a vehicle’s design complexity. How can this be managed while still conveying top-of-the-line commodity and confidently pushing the barriers of innovation?

The Early Days–Simulation and therefore the Auto Industry

The automotive industry was a former adopter of simulation and has been extracting this technology for the planning and development of vehicles for several decades. Simulations allow automakers to virtually test and analyze a whole vehicle and its parts even before physical prototypes are made. It can help in advance a vehicle for safety, fuel economy and passenger comfort.

When compared to the physical testing, simulation is a smaller amount expensive and may reveal results far more quickly. Due to this, car companies can truly amend designs by performing thousands of “what-if” analyses, which might be acutely expensive and lengthy through the other means.

For instance, car makers routinely study the aerodynamic performance of many different vehicle body shapes and choose the one that provides the simplest mileage. Likewise, car manufacturers also perform many crash tests on the pc to discover and address potential questions of safety before agreeing a design and subjecting it to natural crash tests.

To get up the objections of designing progressively complex systems and components in today’s vehicles, car makers got to make three changes to their existing simulation action.


Today, over 85 percent of engineering simulation achieved by automotive organizations is “single physics” simulation which considers one physical effect in isolation. For instance, the mechanical strength of a brake rotor is studied separately from the cooling air flow of the brake. When using this approach, potential failure modes that occur when those phenomena intersect aren’t recognized and should remain untested. The potential consequences are apparent product failure.

With increasing vehicle electrification, the close interplay of multiple physics is on the increase . For instance, in an electrical traction motor, electrical, magnetic, thermal, fluid, structural and acoustic aspects are all tightly coupled. The cooling air or liquid flow affects the temperature; the temperature affects the electromagnets which successively affects the efficiency of the motor also as structural vibrations that determine noise produced by the motor.

Simulating multiple physics together is critical to beat these modern complexities and to develop designs that are optimum and have countermeasures against a good swath of failure modes. Simulation tools that effortlessly arrange multiple physics are now more and more applicable and auto companies got to approve this technology together step in conquering new product complexity.

Models Based Systems Engineering

Auto companies should be looking to use simulation solutions that combine high-fidelity component simulations with holistic system behavior models as another step in addressing complexity.

Today, automotive companies are familiar with simulating and optimizing vehicle components break away from one another. With the increase of complex systems, this system is not any longer effective and therefore the focus must shift towards Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE), an approach where systems and components are simulated together. Such simulations meticulously capture behavioral attributes of individual components under real world operating conditions that they might experience as a part of a much bigger system, and thus enable more accurate and extensive predictions of system behavior. Take the instance of the Passive Entry System mentioned earlier. To positively anticipate the performance of the system, its simulation must include high-fidelity models of all components like antenna receptivity, actuator solenoid electromagnetics, and signal interference in cables, additionally to a system level model of their interactions.

Hardware-Software Co-Simulation

Modern cars have dozens of micro-computers on-board operating various control and computation actions. The software programs that run on these microprocessors – mentioned as embedded software–is becoming increasingly important in automotive technology. Believe it or not, there are literally more lines of embedded software code during a modern car than during a modern commercial airliner.

Just like hardware ingredients, embedded software programs also got to be approved for a spread of operating positions to make sure flawless performance, especially within the case of safety critical systems like airbags.

Hardware and software got to be co-simulated to accurately predict the performance of the system under various conditions. Furthermore, automotive companies got to use tools that undoubtedly achieve embedded software code that's pre-certified to highest safety standards like ISO26262 ASIL-D, thus fundamentally enhancing safety while eliminating time and expense of in depth unit testing. Vehicle electrification is making automotive organizations more complex resulting in more abrupt disastrous failure modes and missed optimization opportunities. 

Leveraging engineering simulation to hastily and inexpensively test vehicle systems and factors for a wide-range of operating conditions, design variations and potential failures is vital to overcoming this rise in vehicle complexity. Automotive companies should amend three changes to their current simulation actions to satisfy these new design hurdles: Enable multi physics simulation, adopt model based system engineering methods and perform hardware-software co-simulation.

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