VW to use virtual test drives to make new assistance systems production-ready

Volkswagen intends to make new driver assistance systems production-ready even faster using virtual validation. The next generation of assistance systems will then learn from virtually generated driving and traffic situations. The company expects this approach to make development processes even faster. In the long term, it says, it is conceivable that millions of test kilometres required for validating automated driving could be completed in virtual environments. Experts from VW are already testing software developed in-house to simulate driving in traffic. This software is to be used to teach assistance systems for the forthcoming I.D. model family.

“We are continually developing Volkswagen vehicles and taking innovations into all segments,” said Dr. Frank Welsch, Board Member for Development. “We are building on our strong global development team and grasping all the opportunities offered by digitalisation. 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.

Firstly, assistance systems can be trained continuously over days and weeks in any scenario. This approach accelerates the learning speed of the systems.

The company 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 being developed and VW says they want to be able to generate any virtual traffic and driving situation which may be required.

A new assistance system will then be connected to these virtual scenarios. 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 be able to observe the behavior of assistance systems precisely and to intervene and optimise the systems as required.

Linking the simulation platform to the Group IT cloud will enable hundreds of driving situations to be learned by the same assistance system in parallel. In addition, VW says its team would be able to build up a virtual library of traffic situations which could be stored as successful learning examples and transferred directly to all new assistance systems.

Volkswagen is already testing the software. The first application simulates thousands of individual car parks with freely definable parameters (architecture, lane guidance, traffic, etc.). Car parks are regarded as an ideal example of complex environments which must be mastered by an assistance system, and this virtual car park pilot is already being used for validating the assistance systems that will feature on VW’s I.D. model family.

Source: Motor Trade E-Magazine (October Edition)

8 Oct 2018