January 18, 2021



Today’s car continues to transform from a mechanical device to a data center on wheels, driven by rapid advances in electronics.

Autonomy, Electrification, Connectivity, Testing

In this article, Tektronix’ outlines the trends driving the automotive revolution and their testing implications.

Throughout its history, many innovations have changed the driving experience. However, very few have had the disruption level as the quest for the autonomous vehicle. Electrification, sensorization, automation, connectivity and mobility have automobile and sub-system manufacturers evaluating traditional practices and facing new challenges as they integrate and validate new technologies.

Working with multi-year development timeframes, automotive manufacturers and suppliers will need to test and validate across the full life cycle. Challenges facing the industry include increased complexity, long test cycles, traceability and liability. Below are the key trends Tektronix sees for automotive designers, integrators and suppliers and how these trends impact automotive system validation testing.


Autonomous Vehicles:
The race to level 5

Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) development continues to advance as sensors, radar, LiDAR and camera technology becomes more pervasive in years to come.


The convergence of connectivity, autonomous, safety and electric technologies are forming the building blocks for next generation vehicle development. High-bandwidth and low-latency networks connecting all sensors, cameras, diagnostic, communications and central processing units will drive advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The shift from driver-in-charge to vehicle-in-charge will bring new test and compliance requirements from standards organizations. This will place greater test responsibilities on automotive manufacturers and their suppliers.

Communication, operational and safety systems will require rigorous testing approaching military grade levels. As a result, systemic evaluation approaches will need to be developed to test vehicle systems and architecture throughout the product’s life cycle.

Vehicles Go Green

Vehicle electrification will continue to increase and will likely accelerate in the decade to come. The connected car, new powertrains, regulations and advances in power electronic technology are coming together to create a new blueprint for automobiles.

Efficiency, safety and reliability will drive the need to have a detailed understanding of power devices, components and sensors used in vehicle circuits. For electrical engineers working in the automotive industry or at component manufacturers, the evaluation of final component and circuit characteristics is becoming very important. Evaluating the efficiency of the entire circuit, verifying current and voltage waveforms at each node in the circuit, testing component and device parameters meet required specifications and understanding power loss are just some of the power measurement tests that will take on greater importance to deliver tomorrow’s automobile.

Data Powers the Connected Car

No one disputes the amount of data, generated, transmitted and received will increase dramatically in future automobiles. V2I, V2V and V2X communications are evolving and will play a significant role in the car’s operation and the passenger’s interaction. The dependency on data to ensure safe, predictable operation of the vehicle requires higher data throughput, low-latency, reliability and high quality of service (QoS).
Today, many autos contain more than 70 Electronic Control Units (ECUs)