Challenges around testing connected cars

Although car manufacturers, or Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), are adequately addressing design requirements inside the car, delivering the Connected Car introduces new challenges as it involves establishing seamless connectivity between the vehicle and its exterior environment. This article highlights some of the additional challenges the Connected Car introduces, and indicates which test methodologies the automotive industry would benefit from adopting in order to quickly and cost-effectively address these challenges.

In the Connected Car, several cellular generations (2G, 3G and 4G) need to co-exist with satellite communications technologies GNSS (e.g. GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou) as well as with future wireless technologies for V2X (Vehicle-to-everything, e.g. IEEE 802.11p), for which  the industry is still in the process of formalising standardisation. The introduction of these wireless technologies is leading to an increased level of complexity, which OEMs (and their suppliers) have to address through rigorous testing in order to meet or even exceed end-users expectations.

The fact that vehicles move at different speed, direction and in different environment (e.g. rural or urban), leads to a large number of mobility and propagation scenarios. This means developers need to take into account numerous fading profiles that present varying degrees of radio interference. OEMs know that testing car prototypes in the field to establish consistent performance across various local radio frequency environments in multiple international markets can be both expensive and time-consuming.

A simulator that realistically emulates both network and radio environment (replicating real world scenarios and use cases in the lab) allows OEMs to mitigate these challenges as well as improve test rigour. This approach also reduces the need for extensive vehicle drive testing.

It is not sufficient to restrict quality assurance to the functional testing of eCall (European Emergency Call), ERA-GLONASS (Russian Emergency and Roadside Assistance) and data throughput since this type of testing does not take into consideration a dynamically changing environment. Functional testing in the lab does not necessarily reveal all issues later identified whilst performing actual drive tests in various countries. This is why it is important for the automotive industry to extend its quality assurance programmes to include testing of these features under real world conditions.

In order to support higher data throughput, OEMs are introducing advanced antenna technology such as MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output), a transmission technology for 4G cellular communications. They are also using innovative ways of designing the antennas into the vehicle with enough radio separation, which make single antenna solutions (e.g. single shark antenna array on top of the car) potentially insufficient. By adopting test methodologies such as Automotive OTA (Over-the-Air), OEMs are able to test the car antennas under real world channel conditions, taking into account signalling from different directions and angles with different signal strengths. Automotive OTA enables OEMs to conduct repetitive testing in the lab using multi-probe simulators.

To address these challenges, Anite has a unique range of lab-based wireless connectivity test solutions, with full mobile network simulation capabilities, for the automotive industry to validate the performance of the Connected Car under real world conditions.


Sarabjit Singh is a Senior Product Manager responsible for overall Automotive vertical in Anite’s Device & Infrastructure Testing business. He is a tenacious innovator and a subject matter expert on various wireless technologies with almost 20 years’ experience in the telecommunications industry. Sarabjit joined Anite in 1998 and has been involved in shaping its solutions (4G, 3G and 2G) for cellular R&D customers. Previously, Sarabjit worked with Tata Consultancy Services and Aeroflex as a Technical Consultant. Sarabjit holds an engineering degree with distinction in Computer Science from Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College in India.