Joint Press Release of TU Kaiserslautern and the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE

CeBIT 2017: FERAL – new simulation process makes complex hard- and software compatible

Press Release / 6.3.2017

Technology used in automobiles, airplanes, or industrial robots is becoming ever more complex. Can the software be extended? How does the system deal with failures? More and more organizations need to address such issues. Help is now offered by a simulation process developed by researchers in Kaiserslautern. It allows checking in which combination different hard- and software systems will work together correctly. In addition, the researchers can examine the response of safety-critical systems when failures occur. At the CeBIT computer fair in Hanover, they will present their technology at the research booth of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate (hall 6, booth C17).

© Photo Thomas Koziel

The Kaiserslautern-based researchers Dr. Thomas Kuhn (front left) and Matthias Jung can perform virtual checks using their technology to see whether hardware and software components are compatible.

Modern automobiles consist of many hardware and software components. If everything works smoothly, a sensor on the car’s wheel will notice, for example, any blockage or slippage. At the same time, other sensors monitor whether the brakes are functioning. All the while these systems are communicating with each other.

Software systems are composed of a multitude of such components. Developers must check whether they are compatible with each other. “However, this is becoming ever more complex with new hardware and software”, says Matthias Jung, PhD student in the Microelectronic Systems Design Research Group of Professor Dr. Norbert Wehn at the University of Kaiserslautern. “There is an unlimited number of possibilities for combining such systems with each other. When we combine them, we always need to answer the question whether the technology will run flawlessly with the desired requirements.”

Together with colleagues from the team of Dr. Thomas Kuhn at the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE, the researchers at the Kaiserslautern High-Performance Center “Simulation and Software-based Innovation” have developed a process in which they address such issues. “With our simulation platform FERAL we can check already during development whether hardware and software components will work together”, says Dr. Kuhn, head of the department “Embedded Software Engineering” at Fraunhofer IESE. The acronym FERAL stands for Fast Evaluation on Requirements and Architectural Level.

“We can use this to check a wide variety of different scenarios, either for existing systems or for new variants”, adds Dr. Kuhn. “In our virtual platform, we can also test, for example, software and hardware that does not even exist yet.”

With their process the scientists are also uncovering possible defects in the technology. “This makes the method interesting for virtual product engineering”, states Matthias Jung. The researchers are making their system available as a service for small and medium-sized enterprises as well as for large corporations. It is particularly important for testing embedded systems. These microcomputers, which interact with their technical environment, are nowadays incorporated into a multitude of products and can be found, for instance, in cars, planes, smartphones, but also in pacemakers or dialysis machines. Furthermore, scientists can use this process to check the response of safety-critical systems, such as those common in industrial production plants, when failures occur.

The team around Kuhn and Jung has already collaborated with customers from the commercial vehicle industry and from plant engineering. At CeBIT, they will present FERAL at the Rhineland-Palatinate Research Booth.

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