Driving simulation expert rFpro has launched a simulation platform that car makers can use to train and develop AVs. The digital environment has been created to represent the real world precisely and enable tests in “every scenario imaginable”.
“AVs are the future; the market is expected to be worth up to US$10tn, but debate is rising about whether these vehicles should be allowed on our roads,” said Chris Hoyle, technical director at rFpro. “If not, how do we develop them? Our platform enables vehicle manufacturers to thoroughly test their technology and be absolutely confident in their systems before validation on real roads. The vehicle hardware, such as the cameras and sensors, are already approaching the level required to achieve a fully autonomous world but it is the ‘brain’, the vehicle’s ability to make appropriate decisions, that needs to be further developed.”
The company says the key to its platform is the level of accuracy achieved replicating the real world in simulation; this enables the various sensors to react naturally and therefore test results are representative. The company has been producing a library of real roads, created through scanning technology, to form the basis of the simulation. As it is a digital platform, users have control of all variables, including traffic, pedestrians, weather and location.
“By using multiple computers 24/7, manufacturers can undertake millions of miles of testing every month using our platform,” said Hoyle. “Humans can also be introduced into the simulation, controlling surrounding cars or pedestrians, so we can assess an AV’s decision making and also the interaction between the vehicle and the driver, but most importantly it is carried out in a safe environment.”
The technology has been developed over the past three years and has already been adopted by two major vehicle manufactures and three autonomous car developers. It is also being used by a driverless motorsport series.
“AVs will revolutionise road safety, much more than ABS, AEB or stability systems have done before it,” said Hoyle. “It has the real potential to create a largely accident-free road network. Allowing AVs on to the roads is an essential part of the validation process but our platform enables all of the testing to be carried out in a completely safe environment.
“Further to this, it significantly reduces the cost and time required to develop these complex systems, bringing the vehicles to market sooner.”