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Innovating the teaching of test techniques for automotive electronics: developing a unique practical session by building a vehicle in the loop (VIL) testbed at WMG

Valentina Donzella

Project Summary: This project aims to build a vehicle in the loop (VIL) testbed for the Advanced Test Techniques (ATT) module, in the context of Automotive Engineering Mastersprogram. The capability would give the university a unique proposition that is not matched by anyother academic group in the UK.

Involvement:This project involves the collaborations between research and teaching staff at WMG, technicians from WMG,andJLRexperts.

Anticipated outcomes: Enhancement of the delivery of the ATT module in terms of:

  • Achieving a more interactive environment for the students, where they can test their own electronics models on a real, functioning vehicle;
  • Strengthening the link between material taught and research & development in an industrial context.

The VIL will also offer aplatform for Post Module Assignments and final year projects.

Potential Student Impact: Currently, during the ATT module, students walk along the V-model development cycle for automotive electronics, howeverour current equipment limits us onlyto get to Level 3 (see figure 1, courtesy of JLR). This projectwill allow the students to understand and experience the complete lifecycle of testing including the issues and features of each level of the development cycle.Although the context in this case is automotive, the principles apply to many industrial domains including aerospace, rail and marine,wherever electronics is deployed.

Timescales and costs: The overall budget for this project is £7500, to adapt our existing Range Rover Sport labcarto be the VIL test platform. Fundswill be usedto hire a temporary worker (ideally with an Electronics EngineeringB.Sc.), able to lead the building of the circuitry necessary to drive the labcar with a dSpace rig. The timeframe is about 2.5months from the start of the project,and the target is to have the VIL setup ready for the occurrence of the ATT module in January 2018.

The 5-level model based development process at JLR, courtesy of JLR.

Figure 1: The 5-level model based development process at JLR, courtesy of JLR.


I am a Senior teaching Fellow at WMG, strongly focused on delivering high quality modules, involving several research-led activities, cooperative learning from practicals, problem-based learning, and technology enhanced learning. My areas of expertise are automotive software and electronics, advanced test techniques, sensors for smart vehicles, photonics sensors, and siliconphotonics.