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Get ready for test driving your connected vehicle - Part 2

In the first part of the blog we discussed about how vehicle drive testing is becoming an integral part of current automobile industry. Let us now talk about various model of drive testing,

The traditional vehicle major model may take anywhere from 2-4 years from inception to launch. There are various important stages before the vehicle is set on the assembly line for mass manufacturing. The drive tests are amongst the longest-running test phase conducted at various developmental stages. Various OEM incorporates different strategies for their drive test, but in general, there are two primary modes of drive testing connected services. The first one incorporates testing the system for end-user scenarios multiple times, in various geographical, GPS, and network conditions with several functional arbitration paths. For instance, what would happen while a navigational route is being generated (online) in a low (2G) bandwidth area, and a phone call comes through, or, subscription (e.g. Spotify) gets expired with the change of the midnight clock, while it is still being used during the drive, or take the instance of how much of the data can be cached on the vehicle system before service degradation has to gracefully stop the application, without distracting the driver and ensuring a safe operation. There are numerous other scenarios related to functional, performance, security, operational, 3rd party/Tier-2 dependent services, government safety regulations, etc. that get planned, executed, re-executed, and endurance tested by multiple teams of qualified test teams backed by developers in real-time. The tests are conducted in multiple stages. The short drive test with around 100-150 miles of driving per day, with each day having a specific functional area being tested, and long drive tests with a team of 4-5 test engineer and qualified drivers (special licensing requirements for driving prototypes in several countries) and support vehicles for 5-20 days with cross country travels testing all aspects of the infotainment/connected systems. The systems are logged and observed through various, embedded, IoT, DevOps, and monitoring tools, corrective actions are taken, and scenarios retried over serval cycles.

The second mode of testing happen generally on the early production trial vehicles by real users (supported by dealerships, the member of the select trial groups and company members). By this time, it is expected that all the major issues and specification related problems have been fixed and the connected vehicle systems meet or exceed the functional and non-functional requirements. The users continue to use the applications and services while using the vehicles and provide continuous feedback and their experience. Some feedback and issues get their place in the final product releases and some are tabled for future releases.

The strategy for the drive testing could be numerous, but the expected outcome for the end customer is the same- a safe, personalized, and lasting vehicle experience ensuing a forever brand loyalty. The auto industry is seeing a tremendous shift and the future looks exciting. The concept of vehicle ownership, mobility, and personalized vehicle experience is disrupting the traditional models. Drive tests would continue to become more important than ever before.

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