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“Training” the driver assistants: the role of the functionality developer

14.1.2020
 “Training” the driver assistants: the role of the functionality developer

What does a functionality developer at Volkswagen Group do? Develops algorithms, analyses simulations, and tests software for driver assistance systems. Anna Resing explains all.

A car isn’t just a car, or a vehicle that moves people from A to B swiftly and comfortably. Cars are also complex systems that can communicate with each other in a network or perform driver tasks that ceased being utopian dreams a long time ago.

This is largely down to softwares that companies such as Carmeq are creating. The software firm, which has offices in Ingolstadt, Wolfsburg and Berlin, specialises in developing automotive platforms and recently became part of Volkswagen Group’s new Car.Software organisation, as a wholly owned subsidiary.

Comfortable and safe mobility

Functionality developers such as Anna Resing play an important role in this. In her office, a team of engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists and designers work every day on complex algorithms, analysing simulations and testing car functions. “We develop software in areas of e-mobility, autonomous driving and connected cars,” says Resing.

Her job is to put herself in the customer’s shoes, understand which functions could be used, and how to develop them, as well as what requirements to place on certain systems, and how to put them on the road. The goal is to make tomorrow’s mobility safer and more comfortable.

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On the right track

Driver assistance systems are a key focus of Anna Resing’s role, and she is currently working on further developments to level 2 automation systems, such as Travel Assist and Lane Assist. “In my team, we take care of functions related to steering”.

The challenge is to predict unexpected situations that can occur in traffic such as the sudden appearance of a cyclist or another car, as well as things like changes in weather conditions. It is crucial for functionality developers such as Resing to understand all the interrelationships of the software algorithms, keep track of them and react accordingly. Successful teamwork is therefore enormously important.

Teamwork

Resing and her team regularly sit together with the people responsible for driving assistance systems at the Volkswagen brand to coordinate their actions. Carmeq is also involved in projects with other Group brands and with Volkswagen Group Research in the pre-development phase.

Speaking of teamwork, given the nature of her role, Resing also needs a great deal of information from her colleagues’ many tests. She and the team not only test the software using simulations, but also during test drives in regular road traffic. In the latter case, they collect data via cameras, radars and sensors which allow them to evaluate and interpret certain situations such as the driver’s behaviour. Through systematic road testing, programming errors can be discovered and rectified. When programming the software, they also have to take system limits into account, as well as different vehicle types.

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Rules and trust

The laws of the road are another key point - the software must be programmed accordingly. “In the end, it’s all about the driver being able to rely fully on the systems”, says Resing. For this reason, the driver assistance systems warn the driver as soon as the system is overloaded with the driving task and the driver has to take back control.

The sensors, radars and cameras in the vehicle are our eyes that perceive the environment and provide us with information and data. We are the system’s brain - we interpret this data and ultimately decide how the vehicle should behave in road traffic conditions”.

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The importance of “regularities”

Tests conducted in the car itself are therefore very important because they lead to a “learning by doing” process, something that Resing was already aware of from her mathematical studies. Just as she had to prove and store things in mathematics and find regularities on a theoretical level, as a functionality developer she now has to discover regularities that serve the vehicle as examples for how to act in certain situations.

At some point, our vehicles will be driving around on their own. While we sit in the car, we will be able to do things that we tend to do whilst travelling by train today”, says Resing. “At the level of automation I'm working on, drivers still have to be behind the steering wheel and be able to intervene in what’s going on. But my dream is that in the future fully automated driving will be a reality, and electronic systems will take care of everything. I hope that the Car.Software organisation will enable us to develop software more quickly – and thus shape the topics of the future as well”.

SourceVolkswagen AG

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