National Instruments: Running Models, Saving CostsBy Alejandro Enríquez | Tue, 05/19/2020 - 13:00
Q: What role does NI want to play in the evolution of the car of the future?
A: The desire to be the first to deliver an autonomous car has not diminished. Companies are focusing on using their developed technology in level 2 or 3 autonomy systems that improve safety today, aiming to build on top of these to deliver the autonomous car of the future. At NI, we are diversifying our investments to accelerate the arrival of these technologies to the market and we are investing in technologies we believe in, like C-V2X systems. We are also creating partnerships to help our clients with prototypes or systems, validation and eventually production.
We expect autonomous vehicles will be first adopted by delivery or ride-sharing companies to build their fleets rather than for personal use. This will change the usual maintenance and tracking-system thought process for these vehicles. At NI, we are working on a software designed to manage large-scale systems that will help those companies to monitor such systems. We are focusing on 4GHz radar to run tests like no one else can, considering different parameters and obstacles in our simulations to save development time. We are aware that no company can have a complete solution, but we are creating partnerships with data sensor companies so they run the simulation and we collaborate in validation tests to increase their effectiveness.
Q: How has Mexico’s growth as an engineering and technology development hub impacted NI’s growth projections and operations in the country?
A: In the Americas, Mexico and the US are our priority just like Germany, Japan, China or even Romania are in their regions. Mexico’s location and talent are added-value features for the country. Thus, we invest in technology and we bring it to Mexico as the country sets trends in areas such as production. This enables us to run pilot programs with potential customers.
Q: How does NI’s value proposition differ from other suppliers of testing equipment present in Mexico?
A: Testing-equipment demands are growing faster even than the rate at which OEMs or suppliers can build up new production lines. This has created the need to do parallel tests on Electronic Control Units (ECU). Only two companies in the market can perform these types of tests and NI is the only one that can do them synchronously.
Another advantage is our global capabilities. We have manufacturing capacity to deliver in all countries where we operate, which helps us save on delivery times. We have reduced the usual delivery time for a test system from around 16 to only 12 weeks. The most important element is our single software and hardware platform that works from design all the way to production. Software adaptability allows us to reuse test models, which standardizes data and architectural tests thus accelerating development time. For example, we had a Hardware in the Loop (HiL) system that reduced development time from six to three months. Also, a Tier 1 supplier in South Korea used our test systems to cut development time to a sixth of its usual estimations, reducing costs by 70 percent and the needed man-hours for production tests by 90 percent.
Q: How have transnational automotive companies based in Mexico reacted to NI’s HiL tests, solutions for ADAS and V2X systems and end-of-line tests?
A: Running tests in real scenarios is really expensive. To test ADAS controllers you cannot simply drive the car and collect data because it would be too expensive. HiL allows you to make the controller think real conditions exist. You feed the controller with radar, camera and other data sources to see how the controller reacts so you can adjust your software. This is how HiL validates the controller’s embedded software.
This represents great challenges since you have to provide signals coming from a wide variety of sensors and conditions. Not any platform can deliver that since you need good communication channels to receive data signals and run the models that represent the car. Our advantage is our software adaptability to receive a variety of signals in an efficient way. It is the same software for the entire process and that is our main advantage.
National Instruments (NI) has over 40 years of experience developing automated test systems to help companies tackle the engineering challenges of today and the future. The company has over 35,000 clients and is present in over 50 countries