The electronics systems in today’s automobiles are highly complex, containing 80 electronic control units on average. However, experience has shown that the actual causes behind as many as 40 percent of the errors reported by vehicle electronics cannot be identified exactly.
For vehicle owners, this can mean several return visits to repair shops and high repair costs, in part because the repair process relies on swapping out various system components until the problem is resolved.
This is something that the four partners involved in the DIANA research project want to change. Together, AUDI AG, Continental AG, Infineon Technologies AG and ZMD AG are researching ways to improve the analytic and diagnostic capabilities of electronic control units (ECU) in motor vehicles. Through to 2013, the four partners, headed by Infineon, will work on ways to make error detection more precise and faults easier to rectify for automakers and repair shops. The project partners will be assisted by several research organizations and universities.
“DIANA” is a German acronym that translates as “end-to-end diagnostic capabilities in semiconductor components and systems for analyzing persistent and sporadic errors in automobiles”. The project is to receive roughly Euro 4.8 million in support from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the government’s high-tech strategy and Information and Communications Technology 2020 program (IKT 2020). Automobiles and mobility have been defined as two of the key focuses of IKT 2020 with the aim of significantly improving the robustness of automotive electronics.
The DIANA project’s research and development efforts will create a basis for quicker and more efficient identification and correction of electronics faults in automobiles. One key element in the project is the expertise in quality that Infineon has built up over the course of its Automotive Excellence Program, which it launched seven years ago. To achieve project goals, the same quality control measures that are currently employed in the semiconductor industry will be applied to the automobile as a system. This will enable relevant information on possible malfunctions occurring during operation to be retrieved directly from the semiconductor components and reported to higher-level system components in an electronic control unit. The electronic control unit can then process the operating data collected for diagnostic purposes to inform the driver on the status of the vehicle and provide mechanics in repair shops with a detailed diagnostic report. This kind of end-to-end diagnostic capability, which has not been implemented in cars as yet, will require close collaboration along the entire automotive-industry value chain, from semiconductor manufacturers to the suppliers of electronic control systems and automobile makers.
The outcomes of the DIANA project will be incorporated into automotive electronics products and, from 2015, could help to ensure that cars are more reliable, require fewer trips to the repair shop, and can be repaired more efficiently. If the test routines prove a success in motor vehicles, they can be employed in other areas of application where safety is critical – in other transportation systems like trains or aircraft, or in medical engineering, for example.
Via: EE Times.