3 Myths About Rapid Prototyping Tools For Controls Development
Rapid prototyping tools allow quick iterations of control software code so we can learn what works and get the system functioning. Unfortunately, most rapid prototyping tools available today for system development fall into two categories:
- The very expensive, highly capable options available to OEMs
- The cheaper options meant for tinkering or hobbyists
Fortunately, there’s a third category: affordable, production-ready rapid prototyping tools that are easy-to-use.
Let’s look at three myths about rapid prototyping tools for the development and production of autonomous or EV/HEV vehicles.
Myth 1: Rapid Prototyping Tools Can’t Make Production Software
We’ve heard that rapid prototyping tools are great for innovation, but don’t have the capability to handle the detailed challenges and rigor of production system development.
Rapid prototyping tools ARE great for innovation, because they let you iterate quickly, additionally, we’ve been enabling our customers to use those SAME tools for production for more than 15 years. New Eagle’s Raptor suite of tools is specifically designed for engineers developing systems and vehicles meant for mass production. Each Raptor software build automatically injects production-capable calibration management and data-collection capabilities to support production-oriented workflows and tools. Beyond that, Raptor has field-proven Fault Management & Diagnostics functionality engineered to allow application development targeting real-world emissions compliance standards such as CARB CCR 1968.2 (OBD-II) and CCR 1971.1 (OBD-HD).
Myth 2: Rapid Prototyping Tools Can’t Handle Production Development Processes
We’ve heard engineers are more comfortable using legacy processes to achieve compliance with safety standards, because they are not sure how newer technologies map onto standards such as ISO 26262.
Since its inception, ISO 26262 has provided a path to compliance using Model-Based development, providing ISO 26262-6 Annex B with guidelines. The revised ISO 26262 : 2018, which was recently released, provides enhanced guidance specifically for model-based development with code-generation and software safety analysis.
Raptor is built upon the MathWorks code generator for which MathWorks offers an IEC Certification Kit specifically for ISO 26262. Our production customers can engage our safety-certified engineers to prepare a plan tailored for their project.
Myth 3: Automated Code Means Added Hardware Costs
Some engineers believe that rapid prototyping and code-generation are too inefficient to target cost optimized controllers for volume production. They think it will increase their overhead which would force a more expensive processor and more memory. They believe you must hand-tweak software code and use the cheapest possible controller.
Machine-generated code does not add costs, and is more accurate than human-generated code. The repeatability of machine-generated code, combined with the optimizations it can perform, is often favorable to its human-generated counterpart.
Raptor is built on The MathWorks proven code-generation technology which has continued to improve in quality and efficiency over the past fifteen years and provides a cost-effective way to accelerate your vehicle development.
Most systems development projects we consult on (low to medium volume) involve conversations about the Nonrecurring Engineering Costs (NRE) because they factor heavily into the end system cost, particularly at these volumes. We advise our clients that it doesn’t make sense to spend extra budget on engineering just to shave a few dollars off the controller price.
Production-Ready Rapid Prototyping Tools In Action:
A great example of our production-ready rapid prototyping tools in action is our work on the Walmart WAVE.
Walmart wanted to build a vehicle with an alternative-fuel powertrain for cleaner shipping. The concept involved an advanced on-highway hybrid Class 8 truck that would one day become the Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience (WAVE).
Walmart enlisted our team to help develop the complicated control software and electric powertrain architecture. We quickly created a working system and built a custom interface into the WAVE’s microturbine controller, which facilitated the proprietary protocol over a serial interface.
In the end, our rapid development tools allowed Walmart to meet its timeline goals and showcase how green technology can be leveraged on-highway for cleaner shipping.
From Concept to Production, Faster
As the EV/HEV and autonomous markets mature, development tools will continue to evolve. Now you know that there are rapid prototyping tools that can stand up to the demands of production system development.
Remember, the right tools can help you with developing, designing, testing and validating your system so you can reduce risk and cost and get to production that much faster.