Earlier and more in-depth testing with virtual ECUs (vECU)

More and more functions that aid the driver can also pose risks to the operation of the vehicle. Examples include independent braking, acceleration or steering when driving autonomously. These risks can be minimized in advance through intensive testing and realistic assessments.

Electronic Control Units (ECUs) for modern vehicles are becoming increasingly complex due to the growing number of assistance systems and more and more autonomous driving functions, which in turn increases the demands placed on reliable validation. New ways of testing ECUs are needed to meet these demands. One of these ways is virtualization.

vECU - more efficient testing with ECU virtualization (German)

Webinar recording, duration: 39 minutes

  • What is a virtual ECU and what can a virtual ECU do?
  • Where does virtual testing help in software validation?
  • Where can the virtual ECU be embedded in the test landscape?
  • What advantages does it bring?
  • Which existing prerequisites can be used?

Our expertise in the field of virtual ECUs

  • Commissioning of complete ECUs
  • Coordination with manufacturers for models of the components
  • Experience with different frameworks
  • Co-simulation of different tools
  • Restbus simulation
  • Environmental simulation
  • Sensor simulation
  • Complex simulation of electrical loads
  • Electromechanical models
  • Integration of test automation solutions, such as EXAM
  • Test execution
  • Tool qualification
  • Toolchain qualifications

Better than reality:

  • Original software of the ECU
  • No cross-compilation
  • No stubs
  • Perform complex manipulations non-destructively
  • View into the DUT
  • View into the DUT components
  • Simulate aging effects / chip malfunctions
  • Directly adjustable FMEA analyses
  • Satisfy testing requirements according to ISO 26262
  • Verification of functions with ASIL-D relevance
  • Review-friendly in the assessment
  • Can be archived, can be run even after years


The experts at MicroNova Consulting provide companies with comprehensive support in operating virtual ECUs. With their know-how they help manufacturers and suppliers carry out ASIL-D relevant tests according to the requirements of ISO 26262.

The 4 benefits of control unit virtualization at a glance:

Optimal use of resources:

During virtualization, scaling is achieved through computing power and the use of data centers - rather than by adding more HiL systems or vehicles. This saves the capacities of test laboratories and test tracks without impacting testing depth. It also allows test resources to be shared: An airbag HiL cannot test an engine, but server 1 can take on tests from server 2.

Gain time:

Virtual prototypes exist before the real ones and developers can access a test bench before the first build. Furthermore, data from the design phase can be used to decide which variant is the best for a real build by testing virtual prototypes.

Drive innovation:

In cooperation with component manufacturers, jointly testing design changes to components directly in the virtual product results in simpler and cheaper tests. This helps achieve optimal coordination with the respective manufacturers and a deliberate positioning as innovation driver.

Trusted tools:

The same developer tools can be used in the virtual ECU as on the HiL system or in the vehicle. The virtual ECU can also be easily integrated into the existing test automation solution. This provides great flexibility in test distribution (balancing) and accelerates the entire test process.

vECU Use Cases

Testing without a real prototype

A virtual ECU (vECU) can be created before a real prototype is produced as soon as models are available for all components of a new ECU. This approach is particularly beneficial when many costly components are used.

Analysis of aging processes

In the past, extensive analyses and research have been undertaken on the aging processes of electronic components, so that sufficient data on the influencing factors is available. This data is already used during testing on the HiL system. With a virtual ECU, test engineers are able to reproduce such aging processes directly in the simulation and observe how the electronics and software react. This will improve the development of onboard diagnostic capabilities and optimize error handling routines.

Fault simulation within integrated circuits

The high level of detail in a virtual ECU simulation even allows users to non-destructively simulate faults within integrated circuits. For example, it is possible to simulate the failure of a part of a chip after an overload in order to check and prove that an error handling routine functions correctly. This would not be possible non-destructively with a real prototype and would involve considerable time and effort with every new design.

Chip design with simulated overall installation

Chip manufacturers aim to meet as many of their customers’ demands as possible. If a customer orders a certain quantity they are willing to implement requests directly in the processor. This is particularly relevant for certain safety-critical functions that would be difficult to replicate otherwise. Examples include manufacturer-specific modules for secure data transmission and validation, and for activating ECU codes to perform over-the-air software updates.

ECU virtualization provides chip manufacturers and customers with a central test environment. As a result, chip functions can be tested during development – before the first wafer is even produced. Consequently, interest in this solution is keen on both sides.

Verification of complex qualifications

Complex qualification processes require a multitude of tests. Due to the requirement that virtual ECUs satisfy all specifications for a test according to ISO 26262, virtual ECUs are a full-fledged complement to existing test systems. This means load peaks can be absorbed. If the qualification requires more in-depth intervention for fault simulation, the advantages of virtual ECUs also come into play and offer significant time and cost savings.

MicroNova is your partner for virtual ECUs

Our consultants supervise the installation of virtual ECUs both remotely and on-site at your premises.

On-site deployment enables close personal cooperation and includes support for the stationary computing systems. A continuous comparison of real ECUs with the virtual systems is possible at any time.

Virtual test landscapes in particular can be comprehensively managed remotely. Projects also benefit from the cooperation of various experts across multiple sites.

Due to our many years of experience in networking, mixed use is also possible.


Abdülkerim Dagli
+49 8139 9300-0


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