Siemens develops new simulation system to speed up autonomous vehicle testing

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Siemens has introduced new technology that can speed up the development of autonomous vehicles by minimizing the need for extensive physical prototyping, while dramatically reducing the number of logged test miles needed to demonstrate the safety of self-driving systems.

According to a report issued by the Rand Corporation, autonomous vehicle (AV) prototypes would have to be driven hundreds of millions of miles over the course of several decades to demonstrate their reliability in terms of fatalities and injuries, an outcome that would be inconsistent with the near-term commercial viability of self-driving cars.

Developed by Siemens PLM Software as part of its Simcenter portfolio, the new system uses advanced, physics-based simulation and innovative sensor data processing technologies, to help auto makers and their suppliers address this industry challenge, with the potential to shave years off the development, verification and validation of self-driving cars.

The new system integrates autonomous driving technologies from two recent Siemens acquisitions. TASS International’s PreScan simulation environment produces highly realistic, physics-based simulated raw sensor data for an unlimited number of potential driving scenarios, traffic situations, and other parameters.

The data from PreScan’s simulated lidar, radar and camera sensors is then fed into Mentor Graphics’s DRS360 platform, where it is fused in real time to create a high-resolution model of the vehicle’s environment and driving conditions.

Customers can then use the DRS360 platform’s superior perception resolution and high-performance processing to test and refine proprietary algorithms for critical tasks such as object recognition, driving policy and other parameters.

To deliver the most comprehensive and accurate testing system possible, Siemens PLM Software is working with many of the world’s leading manufacturers of lidar, radar and vision sensing products to develop physics-based, 3D simulated versions of specific sensor modules.

To be compatible with the new Siemens testing platform, the simulated sensors are attuned using detailed design information from sensor suppliers, and validated using real-world measurement data for optimal accuracy. As part of this program Siemens has announced a partnership with Cepton Technologies, an innovative Silicon Valley-based company notable for its long-range, small-footprint lidar sensors, and additional sensor partners will be announced later this year.

“Auto makers are quickly realizing that physical prototypes and road testing alone cannot reproduce the multitude of complex driving scenarios self-driving cars will encounter. In fact, many of the deadliest scenarios are impossible to reproduce, while others are so dangerous to reproduce that ethics preclude pre-testing,” noted Dr Jan Leuridan, senior vice president of simulation and test solutions at Siemens PLM Software.

“It is clear that the near-term commercial availability of fully autonomous vehicles is highly dependent on advanced, physics-based simulation technologies, where we are setting the pace for the larger worldwide automotive industry.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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