Marine HIL simulation laboratory (HIL-lab)

The marine HIL simulation laboratory is a Hardware-In-The-Loop (HIL) simulation lab for qualifying the implementation of marine control algorithms, communication interfaces, human-machine interfaces, and experimental test scenarios.

In general, Hardware-In-the-Loop simulation is a method that can be used to test complex real-time control and monitoring systems. Such systems are becoming more complex and rely on more advanced integrated functionality of software-based real-time functions, and many separately designed control and monitoring systems need to cooperate on performing common tasks. Consequently, the control system software code becomes more complex, and may be hard to verify by running regular software simulations. With testing by HIL simulation, the control system is run on its intended hardware, but instead of controlling the real process, it is controlling a simulated process in a simulated environment. The control and monitoring system will, however, see no difference between the real process and the simulated process.

Through HIL testing, the Marine HIL-Lab aims for comprehensive testing by students and researchers to qualify their experimental setups in other laboratories before their assigned laboratory time is started. This will aid in making experimental work more efficient by reducing debugging time, improve tuning of parameters and test scenarios, and thereby maximizing the outcome of the experimental work.

Another advantage of HIL testing is that scenarios that may be difficult to test experimentally (either due to the risk involved in the test, due to the need for a special state of the environment, or due to inadequate experimental facilities), can be tested thoroughly, without risk, if sufficient high-fidelity simulation software exists.  This also makes it possible to use the Marine HIL-Lab for hybrid experimental test setups, where part of the experimental setup is real and part is simulated, and these parts are interconnected through real-time interfaces such as sensors, communications, and actuators.

HIL simulator

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Photos: 1. CompactRio, hardware in which the control system for the C/S Enterprise is implemented, 2. hardware for hybrid HIL testing, 3. C/S Enterprise.