The air suspension in a large truck performs two important duties: It lifts and drops the chassis to couple the trailer, and it helps stabilize vehicles that have a high center of gravity. When a leading truck manufacturer asked Continental to develop an electronically controlled air suspension (ECAS) for its next generation of heavy-duty trucks, it presented the Continental engineers with a set of 1360 stringent system requirements. In addition, the ECAS had to ensure the safety and comfort of drivers operating 40-ton vehicles.
Continental engineers used MathWorks tools for Model-Based Design to create a model of the ECAS and link it to the customer requirements, maintain an executable specification of the ECAS, run closed-loop simulations, develop a real-time prototype, and automatically generate production code for a 16-bit microcontroller.
“We now have one common tool chain from the beginning of the development process to the end,” notes Thomas Ehl, senior manager of software development for commercial vehicle control units at Continental. “We have clear traceability between the requirements and the model. From that model, we generate code for rapid prototyping and production targets, enabling us to test the design very early in the process.”