QTronic: Enhancing Simulated-based Development in the Automotive Industry
Andreas Junghanns, Co-Owner, Jakob Mauss, Co-Owner and Mugur Tatar, Managing Director
“Everything is software-controlled and highly interconnected.” This remark by Mugur Tatar, the managing director of QTronic exemplifies the state in which the world currently operates. Owing to the availability of cloud-based technologies, connected devices, artificial intelligence-powered tools, and automation, even the most mechanical functions, such as those in the automotive industry, rely on intuitive and intelligent software to achieve superior results. Millions of lines of code are written to implement the software that runs on electronic control units (ECU) to regulate vehicle functions, ranging from fuel injection systems to hybrid and electric powertrains. However, as the complexity of software in embedded automotive systems is steadily increasing, manufacturers are unable to conduct effective tests and experiments to obtain accurate data from conventional ECUs. This has led to the emergence of virtual ECUs, or V-ECUs.
Enter QTronic: a virtual ECU provider that builds software to simulate vehicles in a digital environment using a connected device such as a laptop. Utilising their flagship product, Silver, the company eliminates the need for redundant, risky, and expensive trial runs by shifting the tests from a physical to a virtual environment. Silver displays a vehicle component in a simulated environment on a tester’s or engineer’s laptop, enabling them to study the behaviour of a simulated vehicle in myriads of alternative scenarios.
Everything is software-controlled and highly interconnected
Following the virtualisation of vehicle components, QTronic’s TestWeaver—a tool for automated test and validation of control functions—generates, runs, and evaluates thousands of test scenarios automatically. With TestWeaver, manufacturers are able to quickly detect potential problems, view interactive recordings and replays, and conduct large coverage tests of a vehicle. “We build intelligent systems—consisting of unique search techniques—that empower manufacturers to perform automated tasks such as tuning calibration parameters of a powertrain or optimising the design of a car,” explains Tatar.
Be it standard AUTOSAR or non-standard/non-AUTOSAR ECUs, all can be virtualized with Silver in a highly efficient way. For the most challenging ECUs, where access to their C-code is not possible, QTronic developed a proprietary chip simulation technology that is able to execute on a PC with the binary HEX code of the target processor, with a speed that is close to real time. This capability is unique on the market to date and essential in order to connect virtual ECUs for combustion engines with the surrounding powertrain components.
The automotive software solutions provider was one of the few companies that pioneered V-ECUs with Silver and TestWeaver. “Before we started the organisation in 2006, we were into automotive research for more than ten years. The three of us—Andreas Junghanns, Jakob Mauss, and I, the company’s co-founders—developed our technology through those years of research,” reminisces Tatar. The trio’s combined experience of over three decades has helped them establish an esteemed clientele that includes industry leaders such as Daimler, Volvo Cars, and Honda. Distinguished speakers from these automotive giants have also presented their papers on how QTronic’s V-ECUs improved their simulated testing during the company’s first User Conference in October 2018.
QTronic has aided their clients in running highly effective automotive simulations of engines, transmissions, electric propulsion, and integrated powertrain systems. Moving ahead with the belief that it is essential to work closely with clients, the company intends to expand their presence outside Germany and has currently begun to mark its presence in China and U.S. This, according to Tatar, will drive QTronic to broaden its scope as an enterprise and actively evolve with the emerging trends and applications throughout 2019.