Simulator to investigate autonomous driving technologies
Hochschule Kempten’s ‘Adrive Living Lab’ in Germany will be adopting an advanced Vehicle Driving Simulator (aVDS) from automotive test system supplier, AB Dynamics. The new simulator will enable the university to conduct thorough research into driver interaction with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and Automated Driving (AD) systems.
The aVDS is a third-generation vehicle dynamics-grade driving simulator and has been designed to provide the automotive industry with unprecedented research and development capabilities for autonomous systems. Installation will be completed by the second quarter of 2019.
The ‘Adrive Living Lab’ is focused on the development of autonomous driving, with an emphasis on the driver’s interaction with autonomous systems. It investigates the effect of these systems on drivers’ perceived safety and comfort, the two parameters often identified as the most important for consumer acceptance and enthusiasm. The level of demand for such systems stems directly from the views of the drivers that use or interact with them.
The new aVDS will allow researchers to put a driver-in-the-loop (DIL) and gather both subjective and objective feedback on the performance of current and future driver assistance and autonomous systems. It will also allow the university to investigate how to effectively utilise a simulation-based method and toolchain for evaluating these technologies.
Professor Bernhard Schick, Kempten University of Applied Sciences, stated: “Driver-in-the-Loop (DiL) simulators are essential to assessing the capability of ADAS and AD at an early development stage. Virtualisation is an important trend to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of ADAS and AD development. Real prototypes are expensive and becoming less common. Complex vehicle test scenarios are difficult to carry out on real roads.
“For engineers, however, it is very important to be able to experience and evaluate new functions often, even without a physical prototype available. Researching and understanding how normal drivers experience and interact with the new features is also very crucial to creating best-in-class functionality and usability. A key benefit of a simulator like the aVDS is that we can explore the subjective as well as the objective effects to the driver under a variety of circumstances.”
Hochschule Kempten intends to use its aVDS to measure drivers’ stress levels and investigate the safest ways to conduct a ‘handover’ – when control is returned to the driver – if the system is not capable of performing a manoeuvre. One of the key reasons that the aVDS was selected was its exceptional driver immersion. The dynamic ability of the simulator in conjunction with its innovative visual, audio, haptic and vestibular cueing provide drivers with a level of authenticity that evokes genuine responses and reactions to the simulated scenarios.
Schick continued: “We are convinced that the aVDS from AB Dynamics is the best available solution currently on the market for our key applications. The advantages afforded by high dynamic capability and low latency response times are significant. The driver’s input can be transferred into vehicle motion without excessive time delays, making the experience precise and therefore realistic. This is especially important for the vehicle motion outside of the centre of the motion envelope.
“We were also convinced by the large motion travel of the platform, which is effectively extended by advanced cueing. In addition, the aVDS can be installed much more easily within the confines of existing infrastructure, which will save us both time and money. We are looking forward to an efficient and effective way of developing and exploring ADAS and AD and are delighted that AB Dynamics is able to support us with the extensive experience and knowledge they have accumulated over 30 years at the forefront of automotive testing.”
The university also intends to capitalise on the simulator’s architecture by mounting a real car steering system to the platform, from the steering wheel to the ball joints. As a steering rack has many non-linear components, it can be difficult to model and there are significant advantages to including it within the simulator’s feedback loop. By utilising the simulator’s hardware-in-the-loop capability, the team at Kempten will avoid the inherent inaccuracy of a modelled system. Due to the simulator’s kinematics, stiffness and low centre of gravity, the feedback and steering feel that drivers receive is incredibly realistic. With this level of fidelity, the aVDS can then be used to perform a variety of steering based testing including the evaluation of on-centre-feel and driver response.
Klaus Weimert, Managing Director, AB Dynamics Europe, added: “We are looking forward to working with Professor Schick and the team at Kempten University of Applied Sciences. The aVDS was designed with these applications in mind and it will be exciting to see the results of the research that the Adrive Living Lab team will be conducting over the years to come. We will learn from the knowledge gained by their applications and our customers will benefit greatly from it.
“ADAS and autonomous systems will play a big part in future mobility solutions and the way we as humans interact with them is paramount to their success. We are thrilled that they have chosen the aVDS; it independently reaffirms our belief that this simulator is a powerful tool that can help shape the future of automotive development and testing.”