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Digital Loop accelerates the homologation of vehicle software updates using virtual simulation

A collaboration between Kontrol, dSPACE,, TÜV SÜD, Microsoft Germany, T-Systems and Berylls is developing a new digital solution for the approval of updates for software-defined vehicles. The new concept for software-update approval via the mobile network, Digital Loop, will be showcased for the first time at IAA Mobility in Munich from 4 to 8 September.

Before a new vehicle type with automated driving functions can be placed on the EU market, it must be tested under a variety of road and environmental conditions and validated. As software has become an integral part of vehicles, homologation is now also mandatory for certain software updates.

Today, it is already possible to carry out over-the-air (OTA) integration of software updates subject to homologation and even new functions into fully and partially automated vehicles. However, the processes involved are very time-consuming due to the strictness of the regulatory requirements concerned. Manufacturers, Technical Services and approval authorities therefore need a fast and reliable test procedure for approved vehicles that are already on the road.

To overcome these challenges, the seven companies partnered up to form a project team with the aim of developing a software-based virtual homologation process for extensive OTA vehicle updates via the mobile communications. Their “Digital Loop” offers significant advantages for vehicle manufacturers and regulatory authorities, saving both time and cost in type approvals as well as maintenance of product conformity throughout a vehicle’s life cycle. Challenges here include reducing risks and the complexity of regulatory processes, getting the increasing cost of software development and validation under control, and speeding up process time.

To overcome these difficulties, real-life scenarios are simulated using cutting-edge techniques ensuring that the digital environment offers the accuracy and reliability required for testing, validation and homologation. The virtual simulation environment is a digital image of the real world, based on highly detailed, realistic 3D models of streets, vehicles, pedestrians, weather conditions and other factors. The vehicle systems are confronted with these simulations and their reactions and decisions are analyzed. Digital Loop is designed to significantly accelerate the homologation process for OTA software updates and to substantially reduce the number of analogous test processes.

Modern cars are computers on wheels, with software controlling their key functions. Given this, cross-industry collaboration between car manufacturers, authorities and Technical Services as well as IT and software companies is taking on an increasingly important status. Digital Loop is a broadly diversified project team that combines all relevant areas of expertise: TÜV SÜD operates as a Technical Service on behalf of authorities and can thus draw on comprehensive expertise in safety assessments, certification and homologation. Kontrol supplies knowledge in the field of regulatory compliance in formats including a software-driven compliance platform., an integrated provider of software development services for intelligent and safe mobility, provides worldwide support along the entire value chain of vehicle and system development.

dSPACE contributes its expertise in the simulation and validation of autonomous driving functions. Microsoft Germany offers the cloud infrastructure of Microsoft Azure as well as various AI, VR and cybersecurity technologies and its extensive competences. T-Systems integrates the building blocks provided by the project partners into a holistic solution and transmits the OTA software updates to the vehicles over the mobile network. Berylls Group delivers strategic advisory services and holistic (process) implementation skills.

The team is presenting its concept to the public for the first time at IAA Mobility in Munich. A showcase at the trade fair center maps the entire virtual homologation process, from the preupdate functionality (test run 1) and a step-by-step presentation of the virtual homologation to the post-update enhanced functionality (test run 2). An operational design domain (ODD) expansion for an SAE level 3 vehicle provided by with automated lane-keeping system—an update that is critical for homologation—demonstrates the interaction between the individual partners in practice.


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