As MGA Research adapts to more advanced testing protocols, we have developed expertise in the use of CAN (Controller Area Network) and LIN (Local Interface Network) serial bus protocol to perform a wide variety of automotive testing. LIN, developed in 1999 by the “LIN Consortium” (BMW, Volkswagen, Audi, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz), serves as a low-cost alternative to CAN hardware if data transfer rate and fault tolerance is not an issue. These systems are typically utilized in low-stress vehicle environments such as window motors, door locks, and windshield wipers. CAN, developed in the 1980s by Bosch, is a serial bus protocol that allows for a much higher data transfer rate than LIN hardware. ECUs connected to a vehicle’s CAN bus network can communicate and share data with each other in real-time without the need for a host computer. As vehicle components are increasing the use of Electronic Control Units (ECUs) to perform key functions, so does the ability to utilize those ECUs to test these components’ durability. Here at MGA, we utilize CAN/LIN to perform the testing required to validate these various components.
Intrepid Control Systems
CAN and/or LIN, depending on the ECU, can be used to communicate to and control a component’s designed functionality. This can be utilized to run various Life Cycle testing, without the use of more primitive control methods. For example, instead of wiring each door actuator of a HVAC unit to a power controller, we can tap into the HVAC ECU and control all door actuator positions from a single computer. Functional operation of components is also important in other areas of testing such as vibration durability and road simulation. These types of tests can simulate the entire service life of a component, so it is important to understand how they withstand mechanical stress over extended periods of time. Often, components need to be operated before, during and/or after these tests and can include noise evaluations.
In addition to controlling components’ functions, utilizing the ECU allows us to monitor component conditions and log data. In the Electric Vehicle space, we are utilizing CAN to monitor and record the real-time conditions of battery packs exposed to environmental and abuse tests. Monitoring information like cell voltages, current, temperature, isolation resistance, and State of Charge allows for a full understanding of the battery’s condition through testing like life cycle, thermal shock, vibration, crush, and thermal propagation testing. This information is crucial for OEMs and suppliers in their pursuit to develop the next generation of battery safety and technology.
MGA’s ability to tap into a full vehicle’s CAN/LIN ECU buses allows us to monitor how all systems are operating together. By injecting our own commands, we can see how the system as a whole reacts. In the case of complex functions such as Hands-Free Entry, if a system does not react to the intended design, this system can reproduce fault conditions. From there, individual conditions can be systematically manipulated to root cause the issue. Another instance where we tap into a vehicle system using CAN/LIN ECUs occurs in crash testing. We can inject commands to the vehicle seat belt tensioner system the moment before a crash occurs.
As vehicle control systems continue to expand and become more complex, there will arise a greater need to test said systems. Both physical components and software need to be tested for quality assurance as well as potential bugs before entering full production. MGA will always strive to be at the forefront of these types of advancements in the automotive industry to deliver the highest quality testing experience.