Nvidia launches simulation system for AV testing

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From the third quarter of 2018, early access partners will be able to use Drive Constellation, a new cloud-based system from Nvidia, to test AVs in photorealistic simulations.

The computing platform is based on two servers. The first runs Nvidia Drive Sim software to simulate a self-driving vehicle’s sensors. The second contains an Nvidia Drive Pegasus AI car computer that runs the complete AV software stack and processes the simulated data as if it were coming from the sensors of a car driving on the road.

“Deploying production self-driving cars requires a solution for testing and validating on billions of driving miles to achieve the safety and reliability needed for customers,” said Rob Csongor, vice president and general manager of automotive at Nvidia.

“With Drive Constellation, we’ve accomplished that by combining our expertise in visual computing and data centres. With virtual simulation, we can increase the robustness of our algorithms by testing on billions of miles of custom scenarios and rare corner cases, all in a fraction of the time and cost it would take to do so on physical roads.”

The simulation server is powered by Nvidia GPUs, each generating a stream of simulated sensor data, which feed into the Drive Pegasus for processing.

Driving commands from Drive Pegasus are fed back to the simulator, completing the digital feedback loop. This hardware-in-the-loop cycle, which occurs 30 times a second, is used to validate that algorithms and software running on Pegasus are operating the simulated vehicle correctly.

Drive Sim software generates photoreal data streams to create a vast range of testing environments. It can simulate different weather such as rainstorms and snowstorms; blinding glare at different times of the day, or limited vision at night; and all different types of road surfaces and terrain. Dangerous situations can be scripted in simulation to test the autonomous car’s ability to react, without ever putting anyone in harm’s way.

“AVs need to be developed with a system that covers training to testing to driving,” said Luca De Ambroggi, research and analyst director at IHS Markit. “Nvidia’s end-to-end platform is the right approach. Drive Constellation for virtually testing and validating will bring us a step closer to the production of self-driving cars.”

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As editor of four magazines at UKi Media & Events James brings over a decade of writing about, and obsessing over, technology and cars to Automotive Interiors World, Stadia, Winter Sports Technology International and Auditoria. Responsible for commissioning, writing and editing each issue he’s covered the best (and worst) from around the industry on a continual search to feature the latest innovation or talking point on the next cover.

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