3D visualisation supports software development

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As part of the joint project Developing Technologies for Energy-Efficient Drives in Mobile Machines (Entwicklung von Technologien für energiesparende Antriebe mobiler Arbeitsmaschinen – TEAM), Hydrive Engineering GmbH has added a 3D visualisation feature to a software test rig for the first time. The system’s particular advantage is that it is able to directly import data from the real-time simulation models of machines already available, eliminating an additional step in the modelling process.

To date, electronic control units and their accompanying software have been programmed “blind” before being tested on a prototype machine, a process that requires programmers to be highly capable of thinking in an abstract way and poses a relatively high risk of software errors emerging.

In addition to programming knowledge, developing complex control software for mobile machines requires software developers to have a high level of expertise in machinery. As the software used in electronic control units is only tested on a prototype machine towards the end of the development process, it takes a relatively long time for the control software to be fully developed. 3D visualisation allows error detection to take place at an early stage, meaning that the development process requires considerably fewer resources.

Hydrive Engineering’s software test rigs have a simple design and are easy to operate. The control signals, e.g. for the valves, are fed into a simulation model of the machine. All of the machine’s movements are computed in real time and act on the electronic control unit via the corresponding sensor signals. This allows software developers to rapidly check the software’s fundamental functions when interacting with the machine. When analysing malfunctions, they are able to access all state variables without depending on a real prototype machine.
It is difficult to deduce the overall movement of complex kinematics (e.g. excavator arms and the lift masts of wheel loaders),which move as a result of several drive cylinders working together, from the behaviour of the individual variables. By integrating 3D visualisation into software test rigs, it is much quicker for software developers to obtain a more comprehensive optical impression of the effects of the software’s features on the behaviour of the machine. At the same time, a demonstration tool of this kind offers an excellent opportunity for handling functions to be discussed together in the development team or directly with clients,and allows for a greater level of transparency during the development process.