As autonomous vehicles gain momentum in the transportation sector, you may have heard some skeptics vocalize their opinions against self-driving cars. You can rest assured that safety is a top priority for the automotive OEMs experimenting with this technology. These firms are evaluating the active safety and autonomous driving functionalities in a virtual environment with driving simulators by putting the human in the virtual loop. What does this mean? Drivers and engineers are now ableto experience the vehicle performancein a safe and realistic environment and analyze the behavior through changing the vehicle's model and settings.
Our team originally developed a motorcycle simulator during the EC Marie Curie research project “MOTORIST” to study human behavior during dangerous traffic scenarios. This later evolved into a driving simulator to evaluate active safety and autonomous driving functions of cars and their interaction with the driver.
Pictured above is the motorcycle simulator (left) and the driving simulator (right)
Today, the simulator has a modular design that can easily be adapted for a motorcycle or a mock-up car. Some basic features of the simulator include:
Physical throttle, breaks, gear, and steering controls that connect to computer models for the full vehicle, which includes powertrain, electronic steering, and antilock braking systems, provided by Simcenter 3D Motion and Simcenter Amesim
Computer models solved in real-time to give feedback to the human driver
Ability to switch between manual and autonomous driving modes
This test rig demonstrates the power of combining state of the art hardware and software solutions to provide a realistic driving experience to automotive design engineers responsible for validating active safety and autonomous driving functions together with human factors.