The development of driver assistance systems to avoid or at least reduce the number of car crashes has resulted in a rise in demand for resources to conduct maneuver testing in the lab on driver assistance equipment. Carrying out comprehensive testing on software algorithms is extremely difficult in vehicles, since certain scenarios can only be created in special environments and these often place significant strain on test drivers. It was only after the serial development of ESC devices that the automotive industry really adopted automated testing of driver assistance system in hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) test environments. These involve simulating surroundings virtually. It was against this backdrop that Daimler AG, represented by Mercedes Benz Cars Research and Development in Sindelfingen, asked Steinbeis Interagierende Systeme GmbH to work on the development and implementation of a system that would make it possible to operate a vehicle control device to work with driver assistance functions on a standard PC, and to use this device to test virtual trips. The collaborative project earned both companies the 2015 Transfer Prize from the Steinbeis Foundation.
The development alliance already spawned the first prototype ten years ago. Today, the test system and the method – coined Mini-HIL – is being used in the serial development of driver assistance systems that take in their own surroundings. The complexity of testing environments, especially when it comes to the simulations they require, were encapsulated in such a way that the time needed to become familiar with using the test platform could be kept to an absolute minimum. As each generation of driver assistance systems was developed, the growing number and complexity of vehicle functions meant that testing intensity kept on multiplying. It is always a challenge to keep testing protocols simple and useable, yet still address the many different demands placed on testing platforms.
The testing instruments were designed by Daimler and the Steinbeis experts in collaboration with the Universities of Applied Sciences in Esslingen and Karlsruhe, drawing on a variety projects that have been looking at future technologies, property rights, degree theses, and dissertations. The success of the development and transfer achieved by the project partners resulted in the bestowal of the Steinbeis Foundation’s Transfer Award.