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Virtual test drives to test assistance systems

9.10.2018
Virtual test drives to test assistance systems

Volkswagen is developing software in order to simulate driving situations and environments, so that in the future the millions of test miles required for validating assistance systems can be completed in virtual environments.

Digitalisation is involving an ever-increasing number of areas and has now reached the testing process for driver assistance systems. Volkswagen is, indeed, currently considering how to use virtual validation to make this process even quicker. Therefore, the next generation ADAS – Advanced Driver Assistant Systems – will learn to handle driving and traffic situations generated by software, making the development process even quicker and more efficient. In the long term, it is expected that it will be possible to cover the millions of test miles which must currently be driven to validate autonomous driving in virtual environments as well.

Faster learning and fewer traditional tests

Experts from Volkswagen are already testing software developed in-house for this purpose, which will be used to test the ADAS systems for the electric I.D. model family. There are two main benefits with virtual validation: firstly, ADAS systems can be tested continuously over days and weeks in any scenario secondly, this approach dramatically increases the learning speed, so that it will be possible to develop a rapidly growing number of systems and networked vehicle functions for the mass production.

To date, indeed, assistance systems have been tested using a hardware-based approach by connecting components to test rigs via data interfaces. However, as the number of networked functions grows, , so does the need for hardware-based tests. Virtual validation will reduce the quantities required, thus making the physical test rigs unnecessary, as long as high-performance software is used to simulate complex environments. Experts from Group IT and Technical Development are working together on the SimFAS software package, in order to make it able to generate any virtual traffic and driving situation which may be required.

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A high-performance simulation platform

Its sensors will process the virtual ambient data as if they were real, and the software will also be able to reproduce the virtual scenario through a 3D graphical environment. The engineers will be able to operate on the systems as required through accurate observations of the behaviour of assistance systems. The next step? Linking this simulation platform to the Group IT cloud in order to benefit from its enormous computing capacity. Therefore, it will be possible to learn hundreds of driving situations in parallel from the same assistance system.

In addition, the experts will be able to build up a virtual library of traffic situations to be stored as successful learning examples and transferred directly to all the other assistance systems. The first application of the software, which is already in the test phase, simulates thousands of individual car parks with freely definable parameters (architecture, lane markings, traffic, etc.), as they are regarded as an ideal example of complex environments which must be mastered by an assistance system.

Digitalisation and development

In the long term, it is therefore possible that the millions of test miles required for validating autonomous driving could be completed in virtual environments. The self-learning systems of the vehicles (“artificial intelligence”) would  process these data as the data from physical tests on test tracks and public roads. This would even further accelerate the development of production-ready autonomous driving functions.

The Volkswagen Group is increasingly emphasising the possibilities of digitalisation in the product development phases. The digital solutions are being developed by the Group IT Virtual Engineering Lab, where IT specialists implement new tools together with the Technical Development department of the Volkswagen brand. At the SimLAB, on the other hand, the focus is on the assessment of new applications and on the management of current projects.

SourceVolkswagen AG

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