Oct 28, 2015
Rüsselsheim. The new Opel Astra in a recording studio? At first glance, it looks that way. Opel’s latest compact class car is in a room with bluish light and egg box-like elements adorning the walls. Furthermore, numerous ultra-modern technical devices are pointing at the car. The facility that looks like a huge studio where the latest number one hits are recorded is actually Opel’s Rüsselsheim EMC Center. EMC is short for electro-magnetic compatibility. Every vehicle has to pass through these specially equipped rooms on its way to series production and engineers around EMC Manager Martin Wagner check that all systems from infotainment to safety and assistance work interference-free.
And the new Astra has many such systems to offer. It, for example, comes with the groundbreaking adaptive IntelliLux LED® matrix light that enables driving with glare-free high beams outside urban areas along with the new personal connectivity and service assistant Opel OnStar and the new Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible IntelliLink infotainment systems. The new Astra has more electronics performing valuable services than ever before. “To ensure that the components work interference-free throughout the vehicles’ lifecycle the Astra came into EMC Center where we tested all functions extensively before series production started,” said Martin Wagner.
According to the German Accreditation Body, the Rüsselsheim EMC Center meets the ISO 17025 quality standards for professional testing laboratories. It is here that during the entire vehicle development process the experts ensure that the various electronics systems do not interfere with each other. To guarantee the interference resistance of all systems the electronics have to be developed accordingly. This requires a clever circuit design and the use of shielding and filter technologies. The engineers check whether this was successfully done during development and production in the EMC lab. “With equipment and features such as IntelliLux LED® matrix light, Lane Keep Assist and Opel OnStar along with the IntelliLink systems with smartphone integration the requirements are much higher than 30 years ago,” explains Wagner. Back then, it was merely a question of suppressing typical crackling noises from the radio caused by the car’s generator or the ignition system. These days, the screening parameters have grown exponentially with the number of technologies and connectivity possibilities.
The egg box-shaped elements that adorn the walls are the basis of all measurements. They stop the reflection of electro-magnetic waves in the room. “We can only achieve reproducible and reliable data because they absorb disturbing waves,” describes Wagner. Then the actual electronics test starts: the Astra is exposed to a high-energy electro-magnetic field during the immunity test with the EMC team watching the reaction of Opel OnStar and Co. closely from the control room. Camera systems that send video images of the vehicle’s interior to the monitors in front of the engineers via fiber optic cable are used. “This way we can recognize whether all of the displays and control instruments work faultlessly in the radiation storm,” says Wagner.
However, that is only one criteria of the EMC testing of the vehicle. In addition to the optical checks, all of the vehicle’s components and control devices linked via CAN bus systems are monitored. “Special software packages make the specifically selected bus signals visible on a monitor,” says Wagner, explaining how the data is transformed into images, scales and tables. This makes the bus communication of the vehicle transparent for the engineers. Only when all data confirms the perfect, interference-free functionality of the onboard electronics do the engineers give their final ok: “Our guinea pig – in this case the new Astra – is now EMC tested and ready for the customers in every electronic sense.”
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