Multi-Variant Scheduling of Critical Time-Triggered Communication in Incremental Development Process: Application to FlexRay
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The portfolio of models offered by car manufacturing groups often includes many variants (i.e., different car models and their versions). With such diversity in car models, variant management becomes a formidable task. Thus, there is an effort to keep the variants as close as possible. This simple requirement forms a big challenge in the area of communication protocols. When several vehicle variants use the same signal, it is often required to simultaneously schedule such a signal in all vehicle variants. Furthermore, new vehicle variants are designed incrementally in such a way as to maintain backward compatibility with the older vehicles. Backward compatibility of time-triggered schedules reduces expenses relating to testing and fine-tuning of the components that interact with physical environment (e.g., electromagnetic compatibility issues). As this requirement provides for using the same platform, it simplifies signal traceability and diagnostics, across different vehicle variants, besides simplifying the reuse of components and tools. This paper proposes an efficient and robust heuristic algorithm, which creates the schedules for internal communication of new vehicle variants. The algorithm provides for variant management by ensuring compatibility among the new variants, besides preserving backward compatibility with the preceding vehicle variants. The proposed method can save about 20% of the bandwidth with respect to the schedule common to all variants. Based on the results of the proposed algorithm, the impact of maintaining compatibility among new variants and of preserving backward compatibility with the preceding variants on the scheduling procedure is examined and discussed. Thanks to the execution time of the algorithm, which is less than one second, the network parameters like the frame length and cycle duration are explored to find their best choice concerning the schedule feasibility. Finally, the algorithm is tested on benchmark sets.