Archive for December, 2011

28 December, 2011

“Consumers have decreasing tolerance for anything that doesn’t work right,” says John Traynor, vice president, Products, at Bsquare Corp. “The more thoroughly a product is tested prior to launch, the more reliable it’s likely to be.”

And if testing is automated, as opposed to manual, there is likely to be more of it done in less time to greater effect.

BSQUARE Corp. recently released TestQuest 10 for automated testing of embedded devices and applications. TestQuest 10 combines features of two earlier Bsquare products, TestQuest Pro for test creation, and TestQuest CountDown for test execution. “In addition, we did extensive product research and added many of our customers’ top requests,” Traynor says. “The result is a solution that provides greater breadth and depth of automated testing while delivering tremendous value to customers.”

Traynor says TestQuest 10 mimics the actual type of interaction a human would have with a device without the limitations, strain and errors associated with manual testing. “The automation features in TestQuest 10 can also improve the quality of testing,” he adds. “It provides testing that’s similar to what would be encountered in the real world—across multiple environments, in different geographies, and with varied hardware—so developers and device manufacturers can detect defects that might not otherwise arise in a single location or test environment.”

TestQuest 10 integrates with Microsoft Visual Studio, which is popular with app developers, and with software version control systems. Traynor says there’s no need for developers to have to learn to use new tools. The product supports test development in C#, Visual Basic, IronPython, IronRuby, and any other language that supports the .NET common language runtime (CLR).

“Customers decide what test cases they want to develop, and those tests can run 24×7 using automation versus manual testers,” Traynor says. “We’re seeing dramatic improvement in customers’ ability to get products to market quickly, and they are seeing a big improvement in customer satisfaction. Our automated testing technology helps them reduce risk by identifying defects more reliably – avoiding false passes and fails, for example. The fact that each test is identical can help developers identify defects that might otherwise be hard to find.”

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20 December, 2011

You may have heard, and if not you can read it here, that Mentor Graphics and Mecel AB (, a Delphi subsidiary, teamed up to build a complete solution for the design, configuration, generation, and implementation of AUTOSAR Basic Software (BSW) Versions 4.0.2 and 4.0.3.

“The automotive industry is moving quickly from AUTOSAR 3 to AUTOSAR 4, but there is a huge amount of coding and compliance testing involved in creating AUTOSAR 4.x BSW, so we decided to find a partner that could help us both get to market more quickly,” Serge Leef, vice president and general manager of Mentor’s System Level Engineering Division.

“We divided the development work, with Mecel taking responsibility for diagnostics and the AUTOSAR real-time environment while we took on the communications portion and the operating system. The result is complete BSW for every AUTOSAR 4.x module. We’ve fully implemented the stack and augmented it with design tools. Everything works right out of the box.”

The AUTOSAR BSW solution includes Mentor’s Volcano™ VSTAR AUTOSAR BSW stack and VSB configuration tool. VSTAR includes an operating system; run-time environment (RTE) generator; modules for mode management, memory management, and diagnostic and communication services; firmware for I/O hardware abstraction, and optional communication stacks for LIN, CAN, FlexRay, and eventually Ethernet.

Design tool chain support

Supporting VSTAR is Mentor’s VSx AUTOSAR tool chain, which consists of an architecture design tool (Volcano VSA-Volcano System Architect), simulation tool (Volcano VSI-Virtual Systems Integrator), communications matrix design tool (Volcano VSA COM), and ECU configuration tool (Volcano VSB-Vehicle System Builder).

With Volcano VSA, engineers can design AUTOSAR-compatible Software Components (SWC), map them to hardware architectures, and manage the resulting relationships.  Volcano VSI is used for AUTOSAR RTE simulation, verification, and debugging SWCs (software components). BMW and Volvo are among the automakers currently using VSx tools.

“We’re seeing a lot of momentum toward AUTOSAR development. Every automaker has at least one project and some have three or four,” says Leef.

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15 December, 2011

Hardware and software tools that help engineers deal effectively with temperature and heat transfer offer significant value, since increased design complexity and smaller form factors create heat management problems that represent one of the biggest challenges in electronics today.

Temperature is understood to be the key accelerator in the majority of reliability failures and IEEE Standard 1413 (for reliability predictions) recognizes the need for accurate thermal data at all levels of a system’s implementation.

Mentor Graphics T3Ster is the largest selling thermal transient tester for semiconductor device packages and LEDs. Mentor’s FloTHERM software is considered a de facto standard for thermal simulation and analysis to predict airflow, temperature and heat transfer through electronics equipment.

As useful as T3Ster and FloTHERM were separately, they are better now that the two have been integrated. Keith Hanna, director of marketing for Mentor Graphics Mechanical Analysis division, says the interface between T3Ster and FloTHERM marks the electronics industry’s first combined technology for thermal characterization, simulation, and optimization, and is the only commercially available product to fully implement the new JEDEC JESD51-14 measurement methodology standard for the junction-to-case thermal resistance of power semiconductor devices.

T3Ster hardware measurement and FloTHERM software simulation provides a combined methodology of optimizing heat management in devices, subsystems and full systems. Manufacturers can optimize LED and IC package designs for effective heat dissipation. Once a device prototype is built they can characterize the device from a thermal perspective and build accurate models for use in FloTHERM simulations at both the subsystem and full system levels. Systems integrators can use T3Ster hardware to further verify their heat management solutions with physical measurements.

The interface also allows designers to create accurate (to 0.01°C) thermal models seamlessly and pass the models to customers, and it can be used to verify the accuracy of models received from suppliers.

“The ease in creating accurate thermal models based on reliable thermal measurements helps users quickly to identify design problems and to create design alternatives which improve product quality, reliability, and increased profitability,” said Erich Buergel, general manager of Mentor Graphics Mechanical Analysis Division.

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13 December, 2011

Nearing the end of its first year in operation, Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC) announced four new research projects and three new partnerships related to vehicle safety. The new projects are focused on advanced crash modeling technologies and better protecting vulnerable populations, particularly seniors.

The projects and partners include:

–        a detailed computer model of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) THOR-NT crash test dummy (Virginia Tech and George Washington University);

–        confirming the biofidelity and injury prediction capability of Toyota’s Total Human Model for Safety (THUMS) virtual human model in additional crash scenarios (University of Virginia);

–        researching pre-drive behavior, such as where feet are placed prior to beginning the drive to determine the influence on driver-vehicle interactions (University of Iowa), and

–        studying the relationship between the injuries and age, which could lead to improved safety restraints for older drivers (Virginia Tech).

CSRC director Chuck Gulash says the research “promises to advance our understanding significantly in the areas of active safety, driver distraction and protecting the most at-risk drivers.” He adds that the CSRC goal is “to act as a catalyst for the advancement of automotive safety for the entire industry.”

Though there is no current relationship between advanced CSRC research and Toyota safety application development it nevertheless occurred to me to see what Toyota is currently offering.

Starting with the 2011 model year, all Toyota, Lexus, and Scion vehicles have the Star Safety system as standard equipment. That includes vehicle stability control, anti-lock brake system, brake assist, traction control, electronic brake-force distribution, and smart stop, which reduces engine power when the brake and accelerator are pressed simultaneously. Toyota Sienna and Prius vehicles, as well as many Lexus models are also equipped with a Pre-Collision System (PCS); a feature that Toyota says will become more prevalent in the future. The PCS pulls seatbelts tight and applies the brakes if a front-impact accident is unavoidable.

The NHTSA site ( gives the 2012 Toyota Prius five out of five stars overall, including four stars in front crash and rollover tests and five stars in side crash tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not tested the 2012 Prius yet, but the 2011 model was an IIHS Top Safety Pick, earning a top score of “good” in front, rear, side and roof strength tests.

Let’s hope all automakers continue to make safer vehicles.

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