AB Dynamics has developed a computer-controlled carrier for vulnerable road user (VRU) targets, LaunchPad, designed for use in ADAS and autonomous vehicle test scenarios.
“Testing using soft targets is vital to ensure active vehicle systems respond as intended, but as we move towards autonomy the test scenarios are becoming much more complex,” said Jeremy Ash, commercial manager, AB Dynamics.
“LaunchPad forms an essential part of our portfolio, ensuring that all aspects of a real-world test scenario can be precisely represented and controlled. As all of our equipment uses the same software, they can be easily choreographed with the subject vehicle. This means we can create really complex scenarios, potentially involving multiple pedestrians, cyclists and cars, all synchronised and co-ordinated with the test vehicle.”
At the heart of the LaunchPad platform is a power controller running AB Dynamics’ Robot Controller RC software. AB Dynamics’ proprietary TrackFi radio shares position data with other AB Dynamics controllers via the Synchro interface, which allows its motion to be precisely synchronised with the test vehicle and other ADAS targets.
At 65mm in height, the self-propelled chassis can carry pedestrian, cyclist, moped, scooter or even animal dummies at speeds up to 50km/h, enabling the testing of next-generation ADAS and autonomous systems in increasingly complex scenarios. All four wheels are driven and steered, for dynamic performance and stability.
AB Dynamics says that unlike belt-driven platforms, which only allow straight line paths, LaunchPad enables more varied and realistic interactions between test vehicles and a wide selection of typical VRU targets. The company has worked to make programming simple through the use of a graphical path generation utility. The software is common with that used on the company’s Guided Soft Target (GST) vehicle.
Mechanically, LaunchPad uses an aluminium chassis with shallow sloping sides, which AB Dynamics says is capable of being run over repeatedly, even by an SUV. In addition to providing a smooth over-run, the sloping sides present a low radar return. The motor-driven platform is designed to be highly manoeuvrable and batteries can be replaced quickly without removing the target, to support long periods of testing.
“LaunchPad has taken us a further step towards testing ADAS performance under every potential scenario that could arise, able to represent even the unpredictable behaviour of an animal on the highway,” said Ash.
“It’s one reason why 100% of Euro NCAP test laboratories use our products for ADAS testing.”