Applying Model-Based Design for Embedded Controller Development

Model-Based Design for embedded control software development is a modern approach to designing complex embedded systems. It reduces the shortcomings of traditional workflows, which usually rely on gathering document-based requirements and manual testing that is performed only at late stages of the development cycle.

If you are only performing verification and validation on physical prototypes at the later stages of controller development, then you may have experienced cases where requirement changes or other design issues arose, and you needed to rebuild the system or entirely redesign and recode the control software. This causes significant delays in development time and drastically increases development costs. In contrast, when using Model-Based Design and Testing, you can simulate the system and evaluate its performance and interoperability at any point of the project timeline. In this way, you can streamline the development cycle from specification to maintenance, increase test coverage, minimize integration issues, and therefore deliver higher quality products, faster.

What does Model Based Design for embedded controller development look like?

Model-based design and testing can be applied at different stages of an embedded controllers’ development cycle, such as those shown in the V-model, illustrated in Figure 1. Compared to traditional development cycles, one of the advantages of using this approach is that models with different complexities and different testing setups can be used across different stages of the project. This means an earlier start to software testing can, letting you to discover and fix problems as soon as they arise. For instance, virtual models comprising of both a plant and controller, with a high level of abstraction, can be used in the early development stages (i.e., the left side of the V-model). On the other hand, high-fidelity simulations comprising of the actual control hardware (controller hardware-in-the-loop) can be used from the design stage all the way to verification, validation, and commissioning of the system. In this way, you can perform tests under various scenarios in a safe and flexible environment, with actionable feedback throughout the specification, design, testing, and system integration stages, enabling you to identify issues quickly and troubleshoot them much more efficiently. In addition, by developing a digital twin of the system, the model-based development and testing approach can also be used to reduce maintenance costs, and de-risk and accelerate future product upgrades.

Figure 1 – Graphical representation of model-based design and testing applied in different steps of the development cycle.

Boundless design ideas

Unlike traditional workflows where every design idea must be coded and tested on a physical prototype, in model-based design the number of ideas you can test is unlimited. Simulation capabilities let you quickly evaluate multiple design ideas, explore trade-offs, and see how each design change affects the system without sacrificing cost or time.

Test and verification

With model-based design, testing and verification takes place throughout the development lifecycle, starting with requirements and specifications modeling and continuing through design, code generation, and integration. Compared with traditional approaches, this type of testing and verification enables identification and prevention of errors during the coding and design phases.

The role of engineers in Model based design for embedded controller development

Using model-based design for embedded controller development reduces the administrative overhead of design and testing, freeing engineers to spend more time modeling the architecture and performing system integration. 

If you want to see hands-on how HIL technology can help you quickly apply model-based design and accelerate your embedded controller development cycle, enroll in the HIL Specialization program and take you HIL knowledge to the next level.

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