New simulator to aid autonomous vehicle development

Jon Lawson

The Chinese Automotive Technology and Research Centre (CATARC) has significantly expanded its vehicle development capabilities by acquiring a new, third-generation driving simulator from AB Dynamics. The Advanced Vehicle Driving Simulator (aVDS) provides the organisation with essential driver-in-the-loop testing capabilities, for developing vehicle dynamics, ride handling, ergonomics, driver behaviour, powertrain refinement and more. The aVDS will also be an essential tool in evaluating and validating ADAS and autonomous technology. Indicative of the rate of technology advancement within the Chinese automotive industry, CATARC is the first proving ground to acquire an aVDS since the product’s launch last year.

“The use of simulators in vehicle development offers efficiency in both time and cost but it also allows us to validate autonomous technologies,” explained Gongqing Li, Vice Chief Engineer, Automotive Testing and Research Institute, CATARC. “Investing in a third generation driving simulator is essential if we are going to undertake virtual vehicle development effectively. The versatility of the aVDS means that vehicle systems and configurations can be rapidly tested in different driving environments with a driver in the loop. This is a core requirement for future vehicle development."

CATARC went through a rigorous evaluation process to determine which driving simulator best suited its requirements and specifications. It began by shortlisting a selection of the market’s most advanced driving simulators and carried out thorough testing before selecting the market-leading capabilities of the aVDS.

“The aVDS stood out thanks to the level of driving immersion it provides,” explained Kuiyuan Guo, Director of Intelligent Driving Division, Automotive Testing and Research Institute, CATARC. “This is one of the most important qualities in a driving simulator and is enabled by a high technical specification, such as low latency dynamics and feedback alongside precise visual, audio, haptic and vestibular cueing. We have used AB Dynamics' products for over seven years and have always found the company's level of technical support and product quality to be excellent.”

The purchase is intended to help Chinese manufacturers design and test new vehicle concepts and advanced safety systems, including autonomy. As one of the world’s leading automotive technology producers, China will see an increasing need for driver-in-the-loop (DiL) simulation as ADAS demand rises. The nation’s vehicle development will also be enhanced by the dynamic capability of the aVDS, enabling DiL simulation for vehicle dynamics applications that were not previously possible. Steering systems, chassis and suspension can now be modelled so that ride and handling characteristics are accurately replicated by the simulator and usefully evaluated.

With the industry’s increasing levels of AI implementation, the modern simulator can also aid the development of technologies such as AEB, ADAS and full autonomy; helping assess driver-technology interaction in a safe, virtual environment. It is also an essential tool for helping to evaluate occupant comfort and anxiety in an autonomous vehicle, as it negotiates a range of simulated traffic scenarios and roadscapes.

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