Before ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) and HAD (highly automated driving) functions are street-ready, they must be thoroughly tested and validated. Among other methods, this validation process occurs virtually through the simulation of thousands of individual cases/ situations and physically through test drives in our test vehicles, in real traffic or on the testing grounds.
To support our functional specification, implementation and validation activities, we set up configurations in our workshop that enable virtual validation and make it possible to experience functions in low-risk environments: the drive simulator with our “ASTech Seat Box” (simplified model of a vehicle interior).
The setup includes a driver’s seat, pedals and four monitors, three of which are used to transfer real test scenarios to the virtual world with the help of “CarMaker” (a simulation solution from IPG Automotive) and thus provide a view of the road from the interior of the vehicle – and one which displays the traces created during the drive.
Our approach can be best explained with the “Pre-Sense” function that we developed. The driver (our developer) drives a simulated stretch of road. Like in a real vehicle, potential obstacles are recognized early and various steps of an action cascade are taken (acoustic and optical warning signals, partial braking, emergency braking, etc…) depending on the point in time. So-called traces are saved during the entire simulated drive. Traces, which are a collection of lots of different information (such as from sensors and actuators) captured in real-time, can be replayed/ run through after-the-fact as often as needed. They thus form the basis for the virtual validation by which automated real test scenarios are generated.
In addition to the above-mentioned aspects, our seat box also serves as the environment for the “Proof of Concept“ for new functions, where we can test the general feasibility and effectiveness of product ideas and new functions/ features/ concepts at an early stage before the team begins working on the complex development activities.
Among other things, this allows us to create early (and without risk) the basis for the design and validation of existing integral drive and safety functions and the development of new ones. And we are expanding the functional scope of our simulator. The next steps, for example, include the Visual Engine update from CarMaker, which provides an even more realistic representation of the simulations, the integration of Force Feedback for steering and pedals for better perception of the driving experience, and additional hardware connectivity (driver observation camera, VR goggles). At the end of the day, it of course boils down to the combination of many complex specification, development, simulation and validation methods that make sure our functions are safe when they hit the street. The seat box activities represent another small building block on the road to implementing our company mission #ASTechVisionZero.