Comprehensive Expertise in Physical and Software Testing
Never before has there been such a wide variety of models, derivatives, and types of drive in the vehicle industry. For manufacturers in the industry, this means that there is a much larger demand for vehicle testing prior to moving into series production. As a globally operating company, the Formel D Group supports its customers with numerous services in this area.
- The range of models is larger than ever before, mainly due to the wide variety of drive systems.
Sedan or station wagon, coupe or convertible, three- or five-door, regular gas or diesel: Buying a car has always involved a vast variety of options. However, the choice has never been greater than now, mainly due to the wide variety of drive systems. In addition to their regular models, manufacturers are also introducing hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and/or purely electric versions.
Another important development in the automotive industry is the continuous increase in the number of assistance systems across the entire range of models, slowly but surely paving the way for fully autonomous driving.
More Model Varieties Require More Testing
The greater the variety of different models and assistance systems, the more testing is required by the OEMs in the developmental phase, in terms of both hardware and software. Since Formel D has systematically built up vast expertise in this area and has gradually expanded its range of services, manufacturers are outsourcing numerous testing services to the Group. The portfolio of the internationally represented service provider includes everything required to test drives on public roads as well as non-public test sites and race tracks – from preparation and organization to execution. In 2019 alone, Formel D covered about 20 million miles (32.5 million km) for testing worldwide. Vehicle types of all variations, from passenger cars and commercial vehicles to motorcycles, are being tested in all parts of the world. Formel D conducts off-road, poor road conditions, cross-country, city and highway testing under a wide range of weather conditions with a temperature range from -58 °F to +86 °F (-50 °C to +30 °C). While the automotive service provider is conducting the various testing projects, it also collects environmental data for the development of driver assistance systems and associated services, including data on route profiles, traffic volumes, as well as the frequency of road signs and traffic lights. This allows the Group to position itself as an important partner for the future of the industry.
- A luxury class vehicle produced today contains roughly 180 million lines of code, significantly more than a passenger airplane.
Since OEMs are increasingly demanding comprehensive testing and security services from a single source, Formel D is expanding its portfolio with test-related services. In doing so, it can offer customers comprehensive solutions in the field of testing and validation. Depending on the requirements, these services range from vehicle body, retrofit, and camouflage to fleet management and testing bases, down to technical vehicle management.
Software Validation in Development and Aftersales
Vehicles and their respective (hardware) components are not the only items that are being tested in different development stages. Nowadays, cars also feature additional assistance systems, enhanced infotainment functions, eCall options, and vehicle networking. Consequently, cars now have far more software than they did ten or fifteen years ago. A luxury class vehicle produced today contains roughly 180 million lines of code, significantly more than a passenger airplane. In 2010, this figure was still below 50 million lines of code, and this trend is expected to continue to rise sharply. In addition to physical tests on roads or test tracks, Formel D also performs functional tests on vehicle software. This ensures that the vehicle behaves exactly as desired in every potential driving situation. By acquiring Vdynamics GmbH, the Group has further boosted its content, methods and personnel in this area and can offer its customers an even greater service package than before.
- By focusing on software testing in vehicle development, Vdynamics perfectly complements Formel D’s existing range of services.
In order to efficiently test software of prototypes and production vehicles, specific test environments must be set up. This requires extensive hardware and software resources, operating systems, interfaces, data, and the latest tools. Another distinguishing factor is the technical expertise of the employees. Therefore, Formel D attaches great importance to the fact that the staff is optimally trained for their different application areas in the corresponding projects. It is also important that all team members contribute to an agile and adaptable project strategy, based on the SCRUM model. Depending on the type and scope of the project, the Group assembles teams of experts from its certified ISTQB testers, test managers, test architects, and test environment managers with appropriate experience in the configuration, execution and evaluation of test cases. They work in teams to check if new software updates are ready for release. Checking the functionality of the software in relation to other software environments in the vehicle is also important. Formel D relies on manual testing and increasingly also on automatic testing. After checking to see if the software is ready for release, Formel D makes a release recommendation to its customers.