Virtual testing: Porsche Engineering cuts development time of electric drives

In order to shorten development time, Porsche Engineering is testing electric drives in real-life as well as in a virtual environment. According to Porsche, these test methods are specifically adapted to the requirements of high-voltage technology.

At the locations Bietigheim-­Bissingen und Nardò, high-voltage batteries are tested on test benches. Meanwhile, so-called hardware-in-the-loop (HiL) simulations enables engineers to the software for pulse inverters (PIs) to the test. PIs are essential to the electric drivetrain, as it converts DC voltage from the battery into AC voltage, or the motor’s AC voltage into DC to charge the battery.

There are a total of six PI-HiL systems at different Porsche Engineering locations. Due to the nature of the tests, they can be controlled remotely, giving locations without such a system access to them. “Because all test benches are connected to each other, and to the archiving system, the data can be made available on the servers to all participants with immediate effect”, says Thomas Füchtenhans, Development Engineer at Porsche Engineering.

Prior to these virtual tests, PIs had to undergo testing on the test bench. According to Porsche, there was always a risk that something could be damaged in the event of a software error. A risk that engineers can now avoid.

During the tests, the PI control board does not activate actual hardware, but rather a simulation of the PI power unit, which are linked to simulations of other essential compontnentts, such as the better and the electric drive.

“The ECU is exactly the same as the version in the vehicle, so we can draw reliable conclusions about the function of the software that has been installed”, says Füchtenhans.

Moreover, the engineers use artificial intelligence (AI) in order to create 1,000 or more test cases for a PI test series, which used to take them several weeks. Now, “we only need about a few hours,” says Rafael Banzhaf, Technical Project Leader at Porsche Engineering.


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