Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL)

Hardware-In-the-Loop Test Systems

Hardware-In-the-Loop-(HIL)-simulation is a systematic method for testing functions, integration or communication in Electronic Control Unit (ECU), regardless of whether it’s within automotive, robotics, aerospace, automation or medtech applications. The method is based on simulating as much as possible of the controlled systems mechanics, sensors and actuators, and then running experiments on the resulting model. You can, for example, manually inject faults into the model to test whether the diagnostics of the ECU works as it should. If the tests are performed at an early development stage, they increase the technical maturity of products, thereby reducing the amount of time and monetary resources required in the following stages.


The dSPACE HIL hardware is scalable and can be comprised of anything from a simple single-card setup to a complex distributed system with networked ECUs. The simulators exist in everything from small desktop-sized variants, to several 19″ racks, covering everything from components testing to simulation of complete virtual vehicles, all depending on the needs of the customer.

Typically, a system is comprised of:

  • A real-time processor for simulation. This can be a multi core system or even several processors if needed.
  • I/O-cards for simulation of sensors and measuring of ECU signals to actuators.
  • I/O-cards for communication.
  • A unit for simulating the battery, providing a static or variable voltage supply to the ECU.
  • A unit for conducting electronic fault injection, which simulates things like short-circuits, torn or loose cables, and other similar faults.


To operate HIL systems, a range of software is required, depending on both the equipment used and the specific testing process implemented by the customer. As such, we offer a wide range of software that can be used to control or automate the testing process, covering all test phases from function testing to ECU testing to network testing.

  • Implementation software for modelling, specifying I/O, and compiling.
  • Experiment software for measuring and calibration.
  • Tools for generating automated tests.
  • Data-, version- and variant management of ECUs, results and reports.

In addition, we also offer a large number of simulation models for all types of applications with open interfaces to integrate customer or third-party models.

This includes, among others:

  • ASM (Automotive simulation models), a tool suite to simulate internal combustion engines, vehicle dynamics, electrical components, and the traffic environment.
  • Dedicated software for Electromobility with electrical component library and implementation of FPGA models to simulate and test applications for electrical devices.
  • Sensor Simulation, a unique and complete solution that simulates a sensor’s physical phenomena and properties.
  • We support Functional Mock-up Interface (FMI), an open standard for tool-independent exchange and integration of the models provided by various tool suppliers.