Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Automotive Electronics – Electronic control unit

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This presentation covers Automotive Electronics Management in Automobile Engineering. This presentation covers electronic control unit, sensors and actuators in automobiles.

An Electronic Control Unit (ECU) is an embedded system that controls electrical subsystems in a transport vehicle. Modern motor vehicles have up to 80 ECUs. The various types of ECUs include Electronic/engine Control Module (ECM), Powertrain Control Module (PCM), Transmission Control Module (TCM), Brake Control Module (BCM or EBCM), Central Control Module (CCM), Central Timing Module (CTM), General Electronic Module (GEM), Body Control Module (BCM), Suspension Control Module (SCM), control unit or control module among others.

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Designing an electronic control unit

The development of an ECU involves both hardware and software required to perform the functions expected from that particular module. Automotive ECU’s are being developed following the V-model. Recently the trend is to dedicate a significant amount of time and effort to develop safe modules by following standards like ISO 26262. It is rare that a module is developed fully from scratch.

The design is generally iterative and improvements are made to both the hardware and software. The development of most ECU’s are carried out by Tier 1 suppliers based on specifications provided by the OEM. The key elements of an MCU are,

  • Core (Microcontroller)
  • Memory (SRAM, EEPROM, Flash)
  • Inputs (Supply Voltage, Digital inputs, Analog inputs)
  • Outputs (Relay drivers, H bridge drivers, Injector drivers, Logic outputs)
  • Communication links (Housing)

As part of the development cycle, manufacturers perform detailed FMEAs and other failure analyses to catch failure modes that can lead to unsafe conditions or driver annoyance. Extensive testing and validation activities are carried out as part of the Production part approval process to gain confidence of the hardware and software.


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