When performing functional tests, keeping test times as short as possible is often a critical requirement. Time is money, after all. One way to reduce test times is to reduce the latency in setting up signal switch paths, stimulus devices, and measurements. These can all have a significant impact on the overall time it takes to complete a full functional test of a particular DUT.
The automotive market is a highly competitive and complex business. In order to be competitive, vehicles must not only offer comfort and top-notch features at a cost-effective price but also ensure passenger safety. Long before any new model goes into mass production, a long series of sophisticated tests and validations are required at various stages to ensure that the vehicle meets all governmental standards and company performance standards.
Vehicles are often operated under test conditions for weeks or months, which requires logging and archiving massive amounts of data. In addition, in-vehicle tests often require the use of portable test systems, which are ideally compact, rugged, light in weight and free standing. Given the limited space within the vehicle, they typically must operate wirelessly with no connection to a computer. These in-vehicle datalogging systems must be compatible with a wide array of sensors.
To ensure that automotive electronics can withstand the voltage transients induced on the power bus, companies use expensive arbitrary waveform generation and coupling networks during the design phase. For production test, however, a simpler and less expensive means for simulating bus voltage variations and transients is required. For many transient tests, all you need is a switching power supply and an electronic load.