Automotive Trends | Tektronix


Today’s car continues to transform from a mechanical device to a data center on wheels, driven by rapid advances in electronics.

Autonomy, Electrification, Connectivity, Testing

In this article, Tektronix’ outlines the trends driving the automotive revolution and their testing implications.

Throughout its history, many innovations have changed the driving experience. However, very few have had the disruption level as the quest for the autonomous vehicle. Electrification, sensorization, automation, connectivity and mobility have automobile and sub-system manufacturers evaluating traditional practices and facing new challenges as they integrate and validate new technologies.

Working with multi-year development timeframes, automotive manufacturers and suppliers will need to test and validate across the full life cycle. Challenges facing the industry include increased complexity, long test cycles, traceability and liability. Below are the key trends Tektronix sees for automotive designers, integrators and suppliers and how these trends impact automotive system validation testing.


Autonomous Vehicles:
The race to level 5

Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) development continues to advance as sensors, radar, LiDAR and camera technology becomes more pervasive in years to come.


The convergence of connectivity, autonomous, safety and electric technologies are forming the building blocks for next generation vehicle development. High-bandwidth and low-latency networks connecting all sensors, cameras, diagnostic, communications and central processing units will drive advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The shift from driver-in-charge to vehicle-in-charge will bring new test and compliance requirements from standards organizations. This will place greater test responsibilities on automotive manufacturers and their suppliers.

Communication, operational and safety systems will require rigorous testing approaching military grade levels. As a result, systemic evaluation approaches will need to be developed to test vehicle systems and architecture throughout the product’s life cycle.

Vehicles Go Green

Vehicle electrification will continue to increase and will likely accelerate in the decade to come. The connected car, new powertrains, regulations and advances in power electronic technology are coming together to create a new blueprint for automobiles.

Efficiency, safety and reliability will drive the need to have a detailed understanding of power devices, components and sensors used in vehicle circuits. For electrical engineers working in the automotive industry or at component manufacturers, the evaluation of final component and circuit characteristics is becoming very important. Evaluating the efficiency of the entire circuit, verifying current and voltage waveforms at each node in the circuit, testing component and device parameters meet required specifications and understanding power loss are just some of the power measurement tests that will take on greater importance to deliver tomorrow’s automobile.

Data Powers the Connected Car

No one disputes the amount of data, generated, transmitted and received will increase dramatically in future automobiles. V2I, V2V and V2X communications are evolving and will play a significant role in the car’s operation and the passenger’s interaction. The dependency on data to ensure safe, predictable operation of the vehicle requires higher data throughput, low-latency, reliability and high quality of service (QoS).
Today, many autos contain more than 70 Electronic Control Units (ECUs) connected via different bus networks. In the years to come, we expect this number to exceed 100 ECUs, and transfer multiple Terabytes of data. Automobiles will continue to utilize CAN, CAN-FD, LIN, FlexRay™ and SENT with automotive ethernet playing a greater role for high-speed data communications. Wireless technologies including cellular and non-cellular, such as Bluetooth®, WLAN and GNSS, will power infotainment, navigation and traffic information systems.

The integration of multiple communication technologies will introduce new validation challenges. Using these technologies in parallel, in restricted space, can lead to quality problems and even system failure. Testing communication networks and subsystems will require reliability across the entire vehicle. Testing will include measuring cross-talk, locating sources of interference, determining noise immunity and interoperability. Testing for operation functionality and the reliability of communications will span development, system validation, production, on road and maintenance phases.


Testing, Testing and More Testing

The success of automated vehicles depends on several aspects; testing, verification, validation, and certification. In the years to come, the importance of testing will encompass individual components, sub systems, as well as full integration vehicle testing. Testing requirements will include functionality testing, model-in-the-loop, software-in-the-loop, hardware-in-the-loop and vehicle-in-the-loop testing, as well as, integration tests on the test track.

With autonomous vehicles, testing will occur throughout the entire life cycle of the vehicle given the potential ramifications of a system’s failure. Extensive and rigorous testing will be required during each phase of the vehicle life; development, system validation, production, on-road, maintenance.

The ability to easily performance test and measure signal integrity, power efficiency and battery life, characterize components and integrated circuits, comprehend sources of electromagnetic interference and electro static discharge, and verify telematics operation will not only apply to automotive manufacturers and suppliers, but will also be important for service and repair technicians.

At Tektronix, we believe developing test solutions for tomorrow’s automobile will demand a system focus bridging from initial evaluation to production to maintenance. To meet this need, we are working with industry leaders to deliver solutions to meet your automotive testing needs. For more information, contact your Tektronix representative.

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