ACOSARRWTH Aachen | VKA
The project consortium consists of leading European vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and research establishments, which are jointly working on the standardization necessary for modular, distributed and open system development. The goal of the project is to develop a system interface that allows real-time systems to be linked together also over relatively large distances and to be merged into functional prototypes consisting of virtual and real components. The project is managed by the VIRTUAL VEHICLE Research Center in Graz. The anticipated results are a more economical development process and opportunities for new business models.
Early predictions and correspondingly early design decisions are key success factors in modern development processes. With the aid of co-simulation, diverse simulation models can be linked together to enable overall system analysis at a very early stage of development (front loading).
In vehicle development, the term “co-simulation” means an approach in which the complexity of the overall mechatronic product (the vehicle) and its surroundings is virtually modeled in a development environment. This involves linking together several domain- or department-specific components to form an interactive simulation model.
A logical extension of co-simulation, which is an offline process without real-time capability, is the integration of real-time systems. One or more components available as real hardware on suitable automated test stands (the engine, for example) are integrated directly into the existing system model. As part of the ACoRTA project, the VIRTUAL VEHICLE Research Center in Graz and project partners AVL List, Porsche and TU Graz developed a new method that enables this form of hardware/software simulation in real time.
ACOSAR: converting R&D results into an international standard
Thanks to the successful extension of co-simulation into the real-time domain, it is now possible to apply the co-simulation approach throughout the entire product development process. However, this success leads directly to the next milestone: the results from the pure R&D environment need to be usable at a broader level and must be converted into an international industry standard. This is where a new EU project called ACOSAR ( A dvanced C o-simulation O pen S ystem Ar chitecture) comes into play.
There is already a widely used standard for the pure virtual world: the Functional Mock-up Interface (FMI). It allows any desired simulation models to be linked into a simulation environment. Although a suitable standard for real-time systems that also addresses network communications is not yet available, it is essential because real-time simulations are indispensable when real components are used in an otherwise virtual environment – as all experts agree.
“With the definition of FMI as the standard for model exchange and co-simulation, sharing of simulation models across tool boundaries has become much easier. Users benefit from more efficient processes and entirely new simulation methods. Tool producers benefit from lower development and test effort because they only have to support one tool-to-tool interface, which is supported by numerous programs. FMI is a direct response to the requirements of the collaborative development process in the virtual engineering domain and has been adopted much faster than we expected. We anticipate similar results from the standardization efforts for real-time systems and test systems within ACOSAR”, says Torsten Blochwitz, R&D Manager at ITI and FMI Project Manager in the Modelica Association.
Clear benefits from ACOSAR
The ACI developed by ACOSAR will enable early tests and improved decision processes despite large topological distances between development partners. Automobile manufacturers as well as suppliers thus benefit from significant time, resource and cost savings.
There are also clear benefits for small and medium-size enterprises in particular. The planned standardization will give them access to sectors and business areas otherwise reserved for large companies.
Last but not least, ACI standardization creates an opportunity for the development of entirely new business models. Innovative forms of cooperation, such as testbench sharing or cloud simulation, can soon be implemented very easily and across company boundaries.