Project creates data exchange formats for efficient HMI development processes

February 01, 2013 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The research project automotiveHMI develops standardized languages, models and interfaces that enable engineers across the automotive value chain to optimize the development process.

More than 80% of the innovation in today's automotive designs is originated in the segments of electronics and software. Areas where this innovation takes place include the so-called Hidden Technologies such as engine management or ESC as well as comfort functions (navigation, infotainment) and driver assistance systems. The success of these innovations significantly depends on their user acceptance. Human-Machine interfaces (HMIs) therefore are a critical component in the success of innovation in the automobile. The goal of the automotiveHMI research project is to replace today's error-prone methods of creating and sharing HMI specifications.

Currently these methods are based widely on textual descriptions and involve multiple versions in parallel which generates huge communications efforts among the design departments and companies involved. In the future, large parts of these specifications will be transferred into a machine-readable format which also can be interpreted and executed by machines. These data than can be exchanged throughout the entire complex HMI development process, starting with first ideas and covering requirements, designs, implementation and automatic testing. This approach does not only facilitate the automatic exchange of versions but also enables the designers to detect inconsistencies and errors much earlier than in today's processes. Thus, it helps the user to save time and efforts. Under the bottom line, it strengthens the user's competitiveness.

In a recent status meeting with about 50 particpants, the new exchange format has been demonstrated for the first time. Project partners Elektrobit Automotive GmbH, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DKFI), carmakers Audi, Daimler, Porsche and Volkswagen, comlet Verteilte Systeme GmbH, the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering (IESE) and automotive supplier Bosch demonstrated the new format. It enables designers generate out of rough drafts an HMI prototype just by the push of a button. Modifications can be performed within minutes instead of weeks.

Besides the tool prototypes, project partners Audi and Daimler introduced first results of their works on model-based testing. They