Using a Prototyping System as a Flexible Experimental ECU

If a new ECU or a new set of control functions has to be developed from scratch, often different control strategies have to be tested, modified and benchmarked against each other to find the optimal solution. In order to accelerate the development, quick trials have to be run at an early stage (rapid control prototyping; RCP). Tests in a vehicle or on a test bench have to be carried out even before the new ECU hardware is available. Producing an application-specific prototype ECU for this purpose, e.g., by modifying a production ECU, would be expensive, time-consuming, and inflexible. Instead, developers can use a powerful off-the-shelf prototyping system that acts as an experimental ECU but has many advantages. The dSPACE prototyping systems allow developers to concentrate completely on the new function design without having to worry about computing power and memory space – the system offers plenty of both, ensuring maximum flexibility. Unlike a production-type ECU, programming a dSPACE prototyping system is easy. This makes it particularly convenient to change ECU function designs without having to do manual programming. A wide range of I/O interfaces can be configured and easily connected to the function model by means of dSPACE implementation software. Automatic code generation allows the physical implementation on the prototyping system at the click of a button. For evaluation and calibration, parameters of the control function can be changed and signals can be captured on-the-fly by using ControlDesk. This method provides very short iteration times.

  dSPACE Prototyping System ECU
Processor Scalable, floating-point, high processing power Optimized (i.e., limited) for target application; low processing power
Memory Large Limited
I/O Flexible, modular, configurable Application-specific, fixed
Signal conditioning and power stages Flexible, modular, configurable Application-specific, fixed
Size All sizes from small to fairly large, depending on use scenario Small
Programming Easy and intuitive Target-dependent tool environment, complex

Connecting Sensors and Actuators

Signal conditioning and power stages are essential for the optimal connection of sensors and actuators to prototyping systems. To cover today’s variety of sensors and actuators, dSPACE offers the RapidPro hardware as an optional extension to a dSPACE prototyping system. The very compact, robust and modular RapidPro hardware consists of ready-made and easy-to-insert hardware- and software-configurable I/O-interfaces for the highest degree of flexibility. Changes in the sensor-actuator setup are no longer a risk for your development project, and home-made solutions are no longer necessary.

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