The development of vehicles has become increasingly
complex, involving over 50 different suppliers who
need to ensure that all components, parts and devices
work together. Modelling and simulation represent key
methods for a successful development. To facilitate
this, the introduction of co-simulation methodologies
and the interoperability of simulation tools and
infrastructure had already taken root. But there was no
standardised way of integrating distributed simulation
and test environments back in 2015. So there was still
room to enhance the process.
In the ACOSAR project, 16 partners came together under
the lead of Virtual Vehicle Research GmbH in order to
accelerate development steps with new simulation
technologies. With a strong focus on the automotive
domain, the consortium’s members operated on all
levels of the automotive supply chain and included
original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), suppliers,
software tool and real-time system vendors, as well as
research and academic partners.
Early predictions and correspondingly early design
decisions are key success factors in modern
development processes. With the aid of co-simulation,
diverse simulation models can be linked together to
enable overall system analysis at a very early stage of
development (‘front loading’). Within the virtual system
development, front loading is getting more and more
important in a plenitude of industrial domains to
reduce development times, stranded costs and timeto-
market. Co-simulation is a particularly promising
approach for interoperable modular development.
However, the coupling and integration of real-time
systems into simulation environments (especially of
systems of distributed Hardwarein- the-Loop (HiL)
systems and simulations) still require enormous effort.
ACOSAR developed both a non-proprietary ‘Distributed
Co-simulation Protocol’ (DCP) for Real-Time (RT) System
integration and a corresponding integration methodology,
which is a substantial contribution to the international
standardisation (Modelica Association Project DCP - MAP
The DCP is an application level communication protocol.
It is designed to integrate models and real-time systems
into simulation environments. It enables the exchange
of simulation-related configuration information and data
by use of an underlying transport protocol (such as User
Datagram Protocol (UDP), Transmission Control Protocol
(TCP), or CAN). At the same time, the DCP supports the
integration of tools and real-time systems from different
Transfer of results into standardisation was one of the
key goals of ACOSAR. In the final year of the project,
the consortium members therefore decided to pursue
standardisation of the DCP with the Modelica Association.
Since July 2018, the DCP has been developed as a Modelica
Association Project (MAP). The DCP specification document
1.0 was released in March 2019, as an open-access Modelica
Association standard. The DCP complements an existing set
of standards for system simulation, including the Modelica
Language, the Functional Mock-Up Interface (FMI), and the
System Structure and Parameterisation (SSP) standard.
For project coordinator Virtual Vehicle Research GmbH,
the success of the project was another milestone in its 15
years of experience in the field of simulation technologies.
This focus on industry-related research makes Virtual
Vehicle Research GmbH the innovation catalyst for future
In addition, ESI Group implements DCP for its system
simulation solutions. ESI expects to significantly
increase the interoperability of its tools and a reduction
of development and maintenance costs due to the
replacement of several tool specific co-simulation modules
by the standardised and tool-independent DCP.
The range of applications is wide and can, for example,
reduce the set-up and configuration time. Further
applications gaining benefit from the DCP are typically
found in the fields of distributed simulation, co-simulation,
hardware-, software-, or model-in-the- loop testing, and
process automation. The results of ACOSAR will lead to a
modular, considerably more flexible and shorter system
development process for numerous industrial domains as
well as enable the establishment of new business models.