Taking the Billion-Mile Test to Autonomous Drive

February 22, 2019 Kara Gremillion, ANSYS

Autonomous driving is very much in the spotlight these days. These vehicles are disrupting industries with the promise of significant benefits in terms of safety, society, and quality of life. While many envision cars driving themselves with passengers in the backseat, there’s a lot more to it than that, particularly from the design and manufacture perspective.

Such vehicles face almost limitless driving scenarios in the real world, especially when you add in unmanned delivery vehicles, emergency vehicles, mass transportation, and so on. As a result, this technology must undergo what seems like limitless amounts of testing. Autonomous vehicles encompass a wide variety of subsystems that must be checked for performance, accuracy, and functional safety.

With respect to autonomous vehicles, there are six generally accepted stages (or levels) that are occurring. For clarity, let’s define those levels. I’ve condensed them here. You can find detailed descriptions on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration site.

  • Level 0: No autonomy. The driver controls everything.
  • Level 1: Some automated features exist, like automatic braking, stability control, and cruise control, but a human is still in charge. Only one automated system can operate at a time.
  • Level 2: Similar to Level 1, but multiple automated functions can operate simultaneously.
  • Level 3: Vehicle can shift into “safety-critical mode” under certain traffic or environmental conditions. The driver is still present and can intervene if necessary.
  • Level 4: In most situations, the driver is not needed for any function.
  • Level 5: Fully-autonomous in any condition.

In terms of cars out on the road today, Level 2 is quite common, and Level 3 is starting to permeate. If you consider the time it took to go from one level to the next, it’s clear that the technology is accelerating—no pun intended. But the higher the level, the bigger the challenge, and the more testing that’s required.

It may not be realistic to conduct a billion-mile test drive take to encounter every possible scenario. Hence, automakers are turning to simulation to reduce cost and time to market.

One vendor, ANSYS, has developed a combination of tools to accelerate the deployment of autonomous vehicle technology. Specifically, tools include closed-loop simulation (ANSYS VRXPERIENCE), hardware-in-the-loop testing (ANSYS SCADE), and functional safety analysis (ANSYS medini Analyze) with embedded software development tools (ANSYS SCADE). ANSYS SCADE code can be deployed on a physical embedded target and RTOS to show how it would perform in the real world. An informative video puts all the pieces together.

These tools help the developer adhere to the relevant standards, and there are many in the automotive space, and frankly, that’s a good thing. Having all the necessary tools at your disposal in a cohesive manner can reduce the time required for testing by a wide margin.

The bottom line is that designing even a prototype autonomous vehicle requires that developers consider a host of inter-dependent factors, including city and highway scenarios; ADAS sensors, AI and embedded software, control/actuation; and varying levels of safety validation to standards like ISO 26262. Miss any one of those, and you quickly go back to Square One. To get from Level 0 to Level 5 autonomous driving, automotive engineers require integrated development platforms that ensure system safety, reliability, and integrity and reduce time to market. ANSYS self-driving safety solution is that environment.

These technologies will be on display at Embedded World in Hall 4, Stand 520. For example, you can learn about:

Closed-loop AV Safety

To properly design, develop and validate autonomous vehicles, we must make the safe operation of the vehicle a priority. ANSYS has a comprehensive solution to address the System Safety Analysis, Safe Software Development, and Systems Validation with high fidelity physics-based Simulation of the virtual world, traffic scenario description, and sensor simulation.

Sensor Simulation 

ANSYS offers a unique approach to sensor development, by enabling design and validation from the component level of the sensor all the way through to virtual on-road deployment. We will demonstrate how ANSYS software is used to develop, simulate and test radar, lidar and cameras on the vehicle and in a real-world simulated environment.

Battery Management Systems

Increasing electrification inevitably means more and better batteries, especially for mobile systems like planes, automobiles, trains and UAVs. These batteries are not standalone units but complex parts of a large system that must operate optimally to ensure safe and efficient energy usage. Battery management systems (BMS) are essential components that leverage embedded software for real-time monitoring and control of rechargeable batteries in complex applications. ANSYS SCADE, ANSYS medini analyze and ANSYS Twin Builder ensure that BMS are safe and dependable.

Kara Gremillion is the lead product marketing manager of the Systems Business Unit at ANSYS. She is responsible for product marketing planning and activities related to the Systems, Embedded Software, and Optical product lines, along with marketing initiatives related to Electrification, Digital Twins and Autonomous Vehicles. She joined ANSYS 10 years ago.

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