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




Senior Staff Engineer

Technical Strengths:

Platform Experience: ARINC 429, RS 235, RS 485, CCD, CAN, SAE J1939, ISO 11783, ISO 15765, CANOpen, EtherCAT, ADA, Basic, C, C++, C#, Java, Lisp, Scheme, SQL, Visual Basic, Perl

Past Experience

Software development in avionics industry, U.S. Army telecommunications.

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I enjoy the challenge and gratification of designing and developing embedded software products while working with and learning from highly skilled and intelligent people and having the opportunity to be a member of global development teams.

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