The NI Automotive Engineering Platform: From Concept to Crash Test

Publish Date: Aug 15, 2012 | 0 Ratings | 0.00 out of 5 |  PDF


From concept to crash test, the National Instruments automotive engineering platform is a unique tool offering in the automotive industry that you can use to quickly design, prototype, and deploy in-house solutions across many application areas. The NI automotive engineering platform is proven worldwide to reduce engineering costs and time to market while maximizing flexibility and long-term investment.

Table of Contents

  1. One Automotive Engineering Platform from Concept to Crash Test
  2. The NI Automotive Platform by Application Area
  3. Use LabVIEW and COTS Hardware to Reuse Tools and Reduce Costs


1. One Automotive Engineering Platform from Concept to Crash Test

The core of the NI automotive engineering platform is the NI LabVIEW graphical programming environment, a high-performance graphical language that is easy to code, maintain, and adapt to new applications from small data acquisition applications to complex hardware-in-the-loop simulation systems and end-of-line test systems. With a common language between applications, you spend less time learning development tools and more time solving problems, save money and time on training, shorten time to market, and ensure long-term maintenance.

You can use LabVIEW code across many environments ranging from standard Windows, Mac, and Linux OS applications to field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), real-time operating systems, and even microcontrollers. This concept of using graphical programming across a variety of systems is known as graphical system design. Applications based on LabVIEW are used to implement tasks from desktop measurement to in-vehicle control and logging. 

The NI commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) PC-based hardware platform tightly integrates with LabVIEW to provide a seamless code-to-I/O experience, eliminating driver and hardware integration problems while maintaining the low cost and high availability associated with COTS hardware. NI PXI modular instrumentation and NI CompactRIO are the primary hardware platforms that benefit automotive applications, accommodating nearly every application size from massive dynamometer systems to highly integrated in-vehicle systems.

As a global supplier with more than 30,000 customers, NI offers tools in over 90 countries with direct field operations in more than 40 countries, helping to streamline global design processes and supply chains for engineering tools. With award-winning online e-commerce operations, instant quoting, and published pricing, NI tools are easy to purchase.

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2. The NI Automotive Platform by Application Area

Today, almost all OEMs and their suppliers use the NI automotive engineering platform to implement solutions in dozens of application areas within the automotive industry. The remainder of this document examines six key application areas to explore the capabilities of the NI automotive engineering platform.

Rapid Control Prototyping

A successful rapid control prototyping (RCP) platform helps you speedily test control models with real-world I/O so you can quickly tweak and refine them. RCP platforms typically provide a method to import mathematical models and run them on a controller with a real-time operating system connected to real-world I/O. You can then test the models on a real engine or other component, or against a model of the vehicle or system on a simulator, known as hardware-in-the-loop simulation.

The NI automotive engineering platform removes the difficulties of interfacing with low-level I/O while helping you test the most advanced control models using tight integration with LabVIEW and other modeling environments. NI RCP systems usually are based on a rugged CompactRIO embedded system or larger PXI system and the LabVIEW graphical system design environment.

Learn more about rapid control prototyping with NI tools.

Hardware-in-the-Loop Simulation

The LabVIEW graphical development environment and the PXI modular hardware platform are ideal for creating hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) systems to achieve highly realistic plant simulations for controller testing. With LabVIEW, you can define and create your own HIL systems with an innovative, modular, and cost-effective hardware and software platform.

Real-Time Simulation

Implement your plant simulation with graphical programming through LabVIEW control design tools and the LabVIEW Simulation Interface Toolkit, which you can use to import your models developed in The MathWorks, Inc. Simulink® software environment into LabVIEW. Then use the LabVIEW Real-Time Module to run these models on real-time targets such as CompactRIO and PXI.

Diverse I/O

Use National Instruments I/O hardware to acquire analog and digital input signals from common sensors, generate analog stimulus signals, and send digital signals to drive relays, switches, and LEDs. In addition, interface with standard communication buses such as CAN and MIL-STD-1553. Also use the LabVIEW FPGA Module and NI R Series hardware to simulate sensors that require the high performance of an FPGA.

Learn more about NI HIL solutions.

Test Cell Measurement and Control

A test cell can range from a transmission test stand up to a full-fledged four-wheel vehicle dynamometer. Test cells combine industrial machinery with precision control and laboratory-quality measurements to replicate real-world environments for automotive components, systems, and complete vehicles. Many systems use dynamometer and/or servo-hydraulic systems to subject components to various loads to simulate real-world and extreme conditions. With connectivity to both industrial and automotive systems, the NI automotive engineering platform is uniquely positioned to provide a greater level of integration for automotive test cell applications.

Typical NI test cell systems feature a rugged NI programmable automation controller (PAC) capable of controlling the equipment that applies loads and forces to the components under test. CompactRIO PACs move rugged measurements and control closer to the component under test and distribute control to subsystems in the harsh test cell environment. NI operator interfaces allow control of the entire system. All of these hardware components are programmed with the LabVIEW graphical system design environment.

Learn more about NI test cell measurement and control solutions.

Automotive End-of-Line Test

Successful automotive end-of-line test systems are able to stimulate, measure, and validate the functionality of automotive ECUs, mechanical parts, and systems. Important features include high test throughput, high test completeness, and low system and upgrade costs. Automotive end-of-life testers often have unique requirements such as embedded network connectivity, short time to market, and higher integration with vision, motion, industrial, and other test systems. The broad coverage of NI I/O modules enables communication with the wide variety of I/O found in automotive systems.

The NI automated test platform begins with the NI PXI modular instrumentation platform and the LabVIEW graphical system design environment for writing individual tests. You can integrate multiple tests and test systems with the NI TestStand test executive. With open connectivity to traditional systems and COTS hardware, NI automated test systems take advantage of the latest PC technology and integrate easily with existing test systems.

Learn more about NI automotive end-of-line test solutions.

In-Vehicle Data Logging and Control

An in-vehicle data logger using NI C Series hardware offers a flexible approach to both test cell and in-vehicle road track testing. By using interchangeable, modular measurement tools and software that you can easily configure or fully program, you can design your test system for both your current and future needs. C Series hardware incorporates the signal conditioning and data acquisition you need in compact modules that are similar in size to a deck of playing cards for easy mounting. These modules have rugged environmental ratings including up to 50 g shock and 3 g vibration ratings for the most extreme track tests. 

Noise, Vibration, and Harshness (NVH) Test

NVH, acoustics, and vibration analysis can help your organization in manufacturing test, R&D development, and design validation. Systems from National Instruments have been implemented in industries including automotive, aerospace, structural, white goods, and transportation. NI tools have been used for applications from simple in-vehicle dynamics testing to engine noise source identification. NI NVH platforms range from portable USB plug-and-play systems to embedded Ethernet data loggers with onboard analysis and control. 

 Learn more about NI NVH solutions.

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3. Use LabVIEW and COTS Hardware to Reuse Tools and Reduce Costs

The keys to the NI automotive engineering platform are LabVIEW and NI COTS hardware. Organizations are realizing savings in not just individual system costs but also in the reuse of NI tools and knowledge as applications rapidly change to meet evolving requirements. Learn more about the NI automotive engineering platform at


Simulink® is a registered trademark of The MathWorks, Inc.


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