Modular HIL Simulator




DISTek was tasked by a large OEM to create a modular, full system Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) simulator system.


The engineers at DISTek put its 25 years in the Off-Highway software industry to work and together with the OEM developed a solution using a combination of off-the-shelf hardware, custom components, and a custom software application. DISTek decided to leverage its experience as a National Instruments integrator and focused on using NI hardware and software components in the system.

System Hardware:

  • Real Time Controller – Used to run high speed stimulus, deterministic messaging, and six degree of freedom vehicle models
  • MXI Rio and PXI – Used for FPGA, vehicle communications simulation, and hardware IO interface to the vehicle controllers
  • Standard PC – Used to run Graphical User Interface(GUI) and interact with the rest of the system
  • Vehicle controller(s) and display(s)

System Software

  • Simulink – Used for vehicle plant models including six degree of freedom models
  • LabVIEW – Used to code GUI as well as all simulation software including the FPGA
  • VeriStand – Used for convenience to interface between NI hardware and software components while also managing the loops on the real time controller

A modular system was developed to allow for maximum reuse of hardware. The National Instruments hardware and Windows PC were housed in a rack that connects to a removable controller component. This allows the changing of vehicle profiles without a need to fully reconfigure the rest of the hardware for the system.


Coupling DISTek’s years of experience with the customer’s vision of a modular system has proven to be a great success. These modular HIL systems are now being used to represent dozens of different vehicle platforms with minimal hardware purchase required for each new system.

The HIL solution developed for these systems is now running thousands of hours of tests each year, many of them having been automated so they are run without the need for an operator. This shift to HIL results in huge savings for software testing due to the reduced machine requirements, fuel usage, and operator time. Utilizing these systems also creates free time for on-vehicle operators to test unique corner conditions and perform exploratory testing rather than base level regression tests.


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Featured DISTek Expert




Software Engineer / Project Manager

Technical Strengths:

Embedded Systems, C, Ada, Perl, CAN, ISOBUS 11783, SAE J1939

Past Experience

Embedded software development in avionics industry. Driver development & maintenance for custom embedded operating system in the Off-Highway industry. Technical lead for ISO 11783-6, 10, 13, & 14.

DISTek Employee Since:


What I love about my job:

I love working for a small business that invests in me & my family and where everyone takes care of each other. I'm thankful to have the opportunity to work with amazing engineers who are always willing to lend a helping hand & mentorship. I've grown to really appreciate that the solutions we work on, while not always hip & trendy, are the solutions to difficult tasks and our expertise & ability to problem solve is something to be admired.

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