Energy Engineering Editor, Steve Welch, interviewed Managing Director of Claytex prior to the Future Powertrain Conference 2018 to learn more about how simulation can help autonomous vehicle manufacturers resolve system related challenges.
Meeting the challenge
Simulation will be particularly significant in the validation of autonomous vehicles because of the many systems involved.
Public confidence in the safety of any emerging technology is critical as trust is a prerequisite of adoption. This is particularly true in the case of autonomous vehicles. Despite the imperfect safety record of human drivers, it’s likely that most of us will demand conclusive evidence of the reliability of driverless cars before we’re prepared to take our hands off the wheel.
One obstacle impeding the development and potential mass-market roll out of autonomous vehicles is thus the sheer amount of testing required to validate a driverless car. Estimates around necessary road time vary, although an oft-quoted figure from a RAND Corporation report suggests that a vehicle would need to cover five billion miles in order for its developers to have confidence that it had encountered every feasible scenario.
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Clearly such extensive testing simply isn’t practical in the real world. Simulation will be necessary in order to test and validate a vehicle in a reasonable timeframe. Warwickshire-based systems engineering consultancy Claytex specialises in the modelling and simulation of complex multi-domain environments for clients in the aerospace and automotive industries. The company’s managing director Mike Dempsey explains that he and his team have been using rFpro, a powerful driving simulation tool, to enable clients to test vehicles – including autonomous models – in a virtual environment.
“It simply isn’t practical to test [in the physical world] an autonomous vehicle under every conceivable scenario,” comments Dempsey. “From a purely practical point of view being able to build test environments for the tens of thousands of road conditions you need to test the vehicle under isn’t possible – you also need to test the vehicle under different weather conditions and you simply can’t control that in a big environment.”
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