Volkswagen to use virtual test drives to make new assistance systems production-ready
Sep 25, 2018
- Brand expects faster and more efficient development processes through virtual validation
- Volkswagen experts develop software for simulated environments and driving situations
- In the long term, test miles for validating automated driving could be completed virtually
Wolfsburg (September 25, 2018) — In the future, Volkswagen intends to make new driver-assistance systems production-ready even faster by using virtual validation. The assistance systems of the next generation will learn from virtually-generated driving situations. The brand expects this approach to make development processes faster and more efficient than real-world testing. In the long term, it is conceivable that millions of test miles required for validating automated driving could be completed in virtual environments. Experts from Volkswagen are already testing software developed in-house to simulate driving in a variety of driving situations. This software will be used for teaching assistance systems on the I.D. model family.
“We are continually developing Volkswagen vehicles and taking innovations into all segments,” says Board Member for Development Dr. Frank Welsch. “We are building on our strong global development team and grasping all the opportunities offered by digitalization. This also includes virtual validation. We are developing this technology for our work as it will make for faster and more efficient development processes.”
Volkswagen is aiming for two main benefits with virtual validation. First, assistance systems can be trained continuously over days and weeks in any scenario desired; this approach dramatically accelerates the learning speed of the systems concerned. Second, Volkswagen also expects to be able to develop a rapidly-growing number of systems and networked vehicle functions to production maturity. To date, assistance systems have been tested using a hardware-based approach by connecting components to test rigs via data interfaces. As the number of networked functions grows, this means more and more hardware-based tests are necessary. Virtual validation will reduce the volume required, as physical test rigs will no longer be essential.
High-performance software is essential for the simulation of complex environments. This software—“SimFAS” —is being co-developed by experts from Group IT and Technical Development. In the long term, they want to be able to generate any virtual driving situation which may be required.
A new assistance system will be connected to these virtual scenarios, and its sensors will process the virtual ambient data in the same way as actual ambient conditions. The software will also visualize the virtual scenario via a 3-D graphic environment. The engineers will then be able to observe the behavior of assistance systems precisely and to optimize the systems as required.
The experts from Volkswagen also want to link this simulation platform to the Group IT cloud in order to benefit from its enormous computing capacity. Hundreds of driving situations could then be learned by the same assistance system in parallel. In addition, the experts would be able to build up a virtual library of driving situations which could be stored as successful learning examples and transferred directly to all new assistance systems.
Volkswagen is already testing the software, and the first application simulates thousands of individual Parking lots with freely definable parameters (architecture, lane guidance, traffic, etc.). Parking lots are regarded as an ideal example of complex environments which must be mastered by an assistance system. This virtual parking lot pilot is already being used for validating the assistance systems that will be featured on the I.D. model family.
In the long term, it is conceivable that millions of test miles required for validating automated driving could be completed in virtual environments. The self-learning systems of the vehicle—“artificial intelligence”— would process this data in the same way as data from physical tests on proving grounds and public roads. This would further accelerate the development of production-ready automated driving functions.
In addition to virtual validation, Volkswagen is examining the possibilities of digitalization in other areas of product development. For example, Volkswagen engineers are working with the “virtual concept car”—a virtual vehicle model that allows them to fully experience and interact with the exterior, interior, instruments, and multimedia systems, as well as modifying them. This virtual model means that the number of costly physical prototypes can be reduced.
The digital solutions are being developed by the Group IT Virtual Engineering Lab. At the lab, IT specialists launch new tools with the Technical Development department of the Volkswagen brand. At the SimLAB, Technical Development focuses its expertise on the assessment of new applications and the management of current projects.
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