Automotive Electronics

Automotive manufacturers are continuously increasing the use of electronics to improve vehicle performance, safety, and passenger comfort. Sensors and actuators integrated with automotive control computers help optimize vehicle performance while improving reliability and durability.

The Digital Systems and Signal Processing Section of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) uses advanced technologies and methodologies for the development of automotive electronics. Typical activities include:

Product Definition and Development

  • Evaluating application requirements
  • Determining and analyzing technical alternatives
  • Developing detailed product specifications
  • Developing feasibility and production prototypes

Simulation and Modeling

  • Developing component models
  • Simulating analog, digital, or mixed-mode designs to evaluate functionality and to verify design integrity

Data Acquisition

  • Developing onboard, high speed systems that:
    • Monitor control computer bus activity
    • Capture user-specified variable data
    • Scale captured data to user specifications
    • Provide real-time analog and digital outputs for data recording

Development Instrumentation

  • Developing onboard vehicle instrumentation systems that provide for:
    • Transparent control and monitoring of multiple vehicle control computers
    • Field site algorithm editing, real-time digital display outputs, and analog or digital interfaces for data recording
    • User-friendly, automatic configuration

Electrical Testing

  • Production line test systems and routines to accommodate various makes, models, and options of vehicle systems on a common test line

Test and Evaluation

  • Systems and components
  • Design, failure, reliability, and worst-case analysis
  • Failure Modes Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA)
  • Fault Tree Analysis (FTA)
  • Environmental qualification testing

Technology Research

  • Feasibility studies of technology options in such areas as sensors, custom integrated circuits, simulation, and automated testing

This automotive instrumentation system developed by SwRI simultaneously monitors and interacts with up to eight vehicle control computers. The maximum system configuration consists of two display modules for real-time data display, an eight-channel analog output module, a high speed IEEE-488 data output port, a user control module, and multiple memory modules for transferring configuration and application files to and from the test vehicle. The system's modular design permits module removal for scaled-down configurations.

Shown are the automotive instrumentation system's two user interfaces, the display and control modules. The display module is normally mounted in the position shown on the dashboard. The system is automatically configured for operation at startup, but the control module shown in the foreground enables the operator to modify the vehicle control computer application code, reconfigure the instrumentation system, or reassign the display module to different control computers.

SwRI designs and utilizes special test fixtures and temperature chambers to evaluate sensors for electromagnetic and environmental susceptibility.

This brochure was published in October 1990. For more information about automotive electronics, contact Mark Moczygemba, Automation and Data Systems Division, Southwest Research Institute, P.O. Drawer 28510, San Antonio, Texas 78228-0510, Phone (210) 522-5463, Fax (210) 522-5499.

Automation and Data Systems Division Brochures
SwRI Brochures separate.gif (834 bytes) SwRI Publications separate.gif (834 bytes) SwRI Home