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DIANA research project aims at automotive electronics diagnostic capabilities

July 19, 2010 | Christoph Hammerschmidt | 222900962
The complexity of automotive electronics has reached a degree that makes it increasingly difficult to manage diagnostics. According to chip vendor Infineon, the causes of up to 40 percent of error reports in vehicles cannot be identified exactly. In a joint research project, OEMs, tier ones and chip vendors try to improve the diagnostic capabilities within the car electronics jungle.

Semiconductor vendors Infineon and ZMD AG collaborate with car maker Audi and systems supplier Continental AG in the project DIANA. The German acronym translates as “end-to-end diagnostic capabilities in semiconductor components and systems for analyzing persistent and sporadic errors in automobiles”. Funded with 4.8 million euros from the German federal research ministry, the DIANA project aims at improving the capabilities of finding flaws in electronic control units for engines, brakes, air conditioning, and other embedded computers in cars.

The project will create a basis for quicker and more efficient identification and correction of electronics faults in automobiles. In order to achieve these goals, the same quality control measures that are currently employed in the semiconductor industry will be applied to automotive electronics as a system. This is why Infineon holds the primary responsibility in the project. Infineon has vast experience in this field, having established a similar program for its own automotive-related engineering and manufacturing processes already years ago.

The result of the research will enable the systems to retrieve information regarding possible malfunctions during the operation directly from the semiconductor elements and pass it on to higher-level system components of the ECU. The ECU in turn will be able to collect and process operating data for diagnostic purposes and inform the driver and / or the repair shop accordingly. Such an end-to-end diagnostics capability is not available today. According to the DIANA research partners, it requires close collaboration along the value chain – from semiconductor manufacturer to the automotive OEM.

The research project is designed for four years. If the test routines developed in the DIANA context will have proved their worth, they could be accordingly used in other safety-relevant application fields such as railway systems, avionics and medical electronics.

Besides the four companies mentioned above, several research institutes and universities are participating in the project. Among them is Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits and the Universities of Stuttgart and Erlangen.

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