Specifically designed to test connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technologies, the most adaptable vehicle simulator in the world has been unveiled at the University of Warwick in the UK.
The government-funded 3xD Simulator is the world’s most adaptable and advanced driving simulator, and is the only one of its kind designed specifically to test the real-world robustness and usability of smart, connected and autonomous vehicle technology. It will be the centerpiece of the Virtual Reality Center in the National Automotive Innovation Centre (NAIC), which is a long-term commitment between Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Tata Motors European Technical Center, and the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), a department of the University of Warwick.
WMG’s vision is to recreate the world for an intelligent vehicle within the 3xD simulator, replicating complex driving scenarios, changing lighting conditions, communications interference, or unexpected events, and all in a safe and repeatable environment. Using a unique signal emulation capability, the aim is to create a ‘wireless world’, allowing the development of next generation communication protocols, which includes the capability to replicate GPS or 4G signal loss, or even simulate a cyber-attack.
WMG will also be developing approaches to validate CAV sensing technologies, such as radar, lidar, cameras and ultrasonics. Using 30 miles (48km) of photorealistic, real-world driving routes presented via 360-degree high definition visuals, accompanied by 3D surround sound and real vehicle motion, they will deliver an immersive experience for driver-in-the-loop technology evaluations. The success of smart, connected, and autonomous technologies, or intelligent vehicle technologies, will depend upon R&D that can quickly demonstrate safety, security and robustness in order to grow public acceptance. Testing these technologies on-road in real-world driving situations is often complex, uncontrollable, and potentially risky for early stage development, as it is often reliant on the production of costly physical prototypes.
A unique feature of NAIC’s drive-in, driver-in-the-loop, multi-axis driving simulator (3xD) will be the ability to drive in any vehicle, that is either in production or a prototype; to link it up through an umbilical connection; and to drive it through the simulated environment to obtain valuable data for system verification within a highly controlled and safe environment. The 3xD simulator also features: infotainment hardware-in-the-loop to emulate complex external signal environments, including GPS, 3G/4G, AM/FM, DAB, WLAN, and RDS; 360-degree lidar-scanned high-definition visualization of real-world driving routes within the university’s local area; ‘hardware-in-the-loop’ control systems to mimic real-world operation and control of vehicle signals and sensors to enable real-time modification; and a desktop version of the full driving simulator that enables two ‘drivers’ to interact within the same simulated environment.
Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, who established WMG in 1980, commented, “There is an ambition to have totally driverless cars by 2030. To make this a reality, companies need to invest in R&D. We’re collaborating with the automotive sector, from global companies to SMEs, through intelligent manufacturing to help design this next generation of vehicles.”