Testing GPS-based Active Safety Systems: Enabling the future of intelligent driving systems

October 8, 2014 OpenSystems Media

I tend to favor GPS over the Internet when thinking of the amazing technologies born in my lifetime. GPS embodies mobility and freedom, the same benefits of the automobile from nearly 100 years ago. That is why I took notice of a quote from Bradford Parkinson, known as the father of GPS, about the role of the technology in the driverless car.

“In the United States we kill 40,000 people a year on the roads … What can we do to help them? I contend that automatically guided cars are going to help. It will include cooperation between cars; I will know where the next car is going and will be able to sense how good the friction is on the road, I can sense whether my tires are slipping. I can do all that in an integrated single package, so I think where this is going is robotic automobiles.”

Wow, that certainly ups the bar for developers of location-aware systems and the suppliers who support them. I spend most of my day getting the word out about how GPS simulation saves test time and improves the quality of their product. But the future is saving lives? I am thinking, “I’ll take it!” as I sit in the passenger side next to my 16-year old first-time driver.

A recent customer order provides me direct evidence of the path of Parkinson’s belief that GPS will help bring down the incidence of road accidents.

Spectracom and dSPACE Inc., based in Wixom, MI, recently combined to develop a simulation system to test a growing set of GPS-based, location-aware systems in automotive applications and, critical for the future of intelligent driving and traffic systems – collision avoidance, stability control, navigation systems with inertial sensors, advanced driver assistance systems, vehicle2x features, etc.

These systems rely on vehicle situation and position awareness technology to support driver warnings and precautionary actions. Vehicle position detection is enabled using a combination of its dynamics and external data including from GPS, imaging and other sensor systems, as well as roadside equipment which may provide high-definition map information in real-time. With this technology, the distance to a stop line or travel lane at an intersection, for example, can be constantly monitored in context of all other vehicles in the immediately vicinity.

In order to fully test systems with integrated GPS, and other data, as well as the electronic control units (ECUs) that rely on and correlate this data in real-time, these systems need to be tested under real-world conditions. However, the conventional test track is a very costly and a time-intensive “tool” to validate the extreme set of conditions for such safety-critical systems. That’s where simulation comes in. Testing through real-time simulation of the vehicle and environment can be accomplished using the industry recognized hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) technology. A wide-spectrum of real-world conditions can be replicated in a virtual lab environment. Preliminary findings indicate that test track time can be reduced 70-80 percent through simulation.

I have a strong feeling that these new technologies will be a game-changer for future parents of first-time drivers.

Tim Klimasewski is the director of marketing services for Spectracom, a leading provider of GNSS signal management solutions to simplify the integration of positioning, navigation and timing. Tim has a degree in engineering and has worked in every technical sales and marketing role in industries and markets as diverse as communications, scientific instrumentation, and process control.

Tim Klimasewski, Spectracom
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