In only its second year, the 2018 Autonomous Vehicle Technology World Expo has established itself as a must-attend event for anyone seeking to discover the technologies and services that will help make autonomous vehicles a reality.
“Autonomous Vehicle Technology World Expo is where I come to look for test car design techniques and tools,” said Jens Herrmann, a test engineer at Daimler, who was visiting on the first day of the show. “It’s a great place to meet the right people.”
Other visitors welcomed the breadth of exhibitors and innovations on display. “I am impressed by the number of precision components on offer,” said Nishant Mittal, a supply chain manager at Maruti Suzuki.
Meanwhile, the show’s three dedicated symposiums the Autonomous Vehicle Interior Design & Technology Symposium, the Autonomous Vehicle Test & Development Symposium, and the Autonomous Vehicle Software Symposium saw their biggest audiences and more speakers than ever before. One pass granted access to all three conferences, for a combined programme of more than 150 speakers
Held alongside four complementary shows Automotive Testing Expo Europe, Automotive Interiors Expo, Global Automotive Components and Suppliers Expo, and Engine Expo Europe, which all took place in adjoining halls at Stuttgart Messe the combined event set a record attendance, with over 14,000 visitors over the full three days (5-7 June). In all, some 800 companies showcased the next generation in automotive technologies and services.
A key highlight from the show floor at Autonomous Vehicle Technology World Expo 2018 was b-plus’s stand; the company chose the show to launch its latest BRICK datalogger, the BRICKplus. The new datalogger doubles the regular version’s 8Gbit/s data rate to 16Gbit/s by using RAID technology. The increasingly high-resolution sensors on AVs generate ever larger amounts of data that have to be recorded synchronously. To keep up, b-plus also presented a developed storage unit that now has 32TB of storage.
Simulation specialist Next Limit presented its latest synthetic data solution, Anyverse, a high-confidence synthetic dataset production technology, focused on providing breakthrough improvements in the productivity of training for autonomous systems, speeding up the development of training scenarios through a very efficient synthetic dataset production process.
“Real-world data, expensive though it is, is incomplete,” explained Glenn Osaka, in charge of business development at Next Limit. “It turns out there are gaps in what you can capture in the real world and that there are biases in the data. The system might not recognise a sign in an environment it’s never seen before, for example. We need to dissociate it from the context, so we need data that doesn’t actually exist in the real world to help ensure that the training system captures it correctly.”
To this end, the software incorporates a ‘variations engine’, which allows the generation of a lot of images that have big variations in weather and light conditions so that the process can become more efficient. “If you don’t have all those variations in place, the system will be trained with just a small fraction of all scenarios.”
StreetDrone used Autonomous Vehicle Technology World Expo to present StreetDrone ONE its Renault Twizy-based development platform that other companies can experiment on to test their algorithms in the real world.
StreetDrone ONE is a completely configurable autonomous-ready EV that can be used to form a fleet of cars for a technology test environment or as a single car to support a startup’s complementary technology development.
Millbrook has already ordered six to rent out at the proving ground to allow the testing of algorithms. “Proving grounds have to develop the procedures that the AVs have to be tested with and no-one’s really started with that yet,” StreetDrone’s head of software, Adrian Bedford, explained during the show.
Foretellix presented its GigaScale verification flow software suite, which aims to improve the safety of autonomous vehicles by delivering a set of verification solutions. Its new, highly scalable design flow combines verification automation, intelligence and reuse.
“The offering is a verification flow for AVs that helps to create, manage, analyse and simulate millions of scenarios while providing transparency, knowledge and intelligence on the verification process,” explained Gil Amid, VP operations and business development, speaking on Day 2 of Autonomous Vehicle Technology World Expo. “The industry is in dire need of all these today.”
Meanwhile, NIRA Dynamics displayed the expanded version of its map data. It has teamed up with Klimator to enhance its own data from vehicles’ wheel speed sensors with road weather data. NIRA has previously collected friction data from a taxi fleet in Sweden, which it shared with Klimator and the Swedish road authority, Trafikverket. The data was continuously sent to a NIRA-server, where it was processed to enable road condition monitoring in real time. NIRA and Klimator have since combined the real-time vehicle data with Klimator’s local road weather models, transforming them into high-resolution road-condition forecasts.
In addition, its algorithms are now also capable of extrapolating data for smaller roads: “Since we don’t have data from all the small roads, we can look at the areas where we do have data and what the road weather data looks like, and then estimate what it is going to be like on smaller roads similar to those areas,” explained Johan Hägg, head of marketing and sales at NIRA Dynamics.
“In 2014 we really started developing [the algorithms],” he continued. “They have been under development for many years, but we needed a lot of test data to be able to put these algorithms to use. An unconnected version of the software will be on the market from 2020, but for the connected features, with full coverage in Europe, we estimate 2024.”
Finding the right engineers and technicians remains a big issue in AV development, which is why engineering recruiter VHR chose to launch its autonomous and electric vehicle division at Autonomous Vehicle Technology World Expo.
Conor McKeon, director for automotive engineering, said, “We are looking for skill sets outside the automotive industry, because a lot of the AV market is to do with software, IT and things that are not so mainstream in the automotive market. At a show like Autonomous Vehicle Technology World Expo, there are a lot of engineers we would like to get in contact with and speak to about what they are looking for in a future company. In aerospace, Formula 1 and marine, we’re very well known, but for AV and EV we’re only just starting out. Shows like this help to get us a bit more awareness.”
Visitors and exhibitors alike were delighted with what they found at this year’s Expo. Ronnie Dessort, senior simulation consultant at Tesis Dynaware noted, “There have been a lot of people who have come by asking questions because they are interested in our products. It’s definitely worth coming here.”
Pierfrancesco Zuccato, senior group manager at Eurotech commented, “It is very important for us to be here today, because by creating the right connections with other people in this community you get the chance to deliver the future. There is still a lot to learn and this is a great community in which to learn and to build partnerships, both on a scientific and a commercial level”.
The Expo was not just relevant for cars, with Frederic Knecht, an engineer for excavator manufacturer Liebherr SAS France, remarking, “We come to AV expo because we’re interested in where the automotive sector is going, as it might inform future technology for industrial vehicles. We’re especially interested in AI, sensor fusion and computer vision.”
Finally, Victor Gonzalez, CEO of simulation company Next Limit said, “It has been a surprise for us how many leads we have gathered. Compared with other conferences and exhibitions, the audience here in Stuttgart is very professional and technical. There are a lot of engineers and technical people, so the conversations are in-depth and to the point. It is one of the best shows we’ve been to so far.”
To ensure you are part of next year’s show, please note the following dates in your diary: Autonomous Vehicle Technology Expo 2019 will take place 21-23 May, 2019.