Autonomous vehicles are the eventual future of the mobility industry, with full vehicle autonomy (SAE Level 5) being the ultimatum in an ideal world. However, the global automotive market will adopt Level 1-Level 4 autonomy for a longer period than fully-autonomous vehicles. The development of such autonomous driving technologies takes a large amount of research and eve more testing, so that the end-solutions are fully-robust and have no loopholes in them.
An autonomous vehicle learns from the usage patterns of its drivers, as well as that of its surroundings. It then translates these learnings into thought and subsequent actions that need to be taken at a later stage. The vehicle’s performance has to be at its very best at all times, in order for it to be able to perform its driving manoeuvres independently without human interference. This brings us back to the fact that rigorous testing and validation of systems of autonomous driving in highly critical to the full development of such technologies.
VEHICLE ROLE CHANGES
When the vehicle drives itself, there is additional free time for the occupants that can be utilised for more important things than paying attention to the road and traffic. This means the cabin of an autonomous vehicle needs to be transformed into a space that offers its occupants a setting to work and rest in. Here, virtual prototyping becomes key in designing the interiors of autonomous vehicles, since the interior layout can be completely rethought, and interior components need to evolve. Seats can be designed to move around and swivel, enabling passenger to face one another when the driver is not required.
Such changes in the cabin also lead to challenges in the area of HVAC systems, which are usually static, as well certain safety equipment. These requirements can also be addressed much better with the assistance of virtual prototyping, followed by validation techniques. Hence the role of simulation and virtual development becomes a key factor in the development of interiors, thermal systems and safety systems of autonomous vehicles.
The need for autonomous vehicles to read and learn from their surroundings constantly brings in the addition of a large amount of electronics into these automobiles. The increase in electronics always leads to various magnetic interferences, as well as compatibility of various devices with one another. Autonomous vehicles make use of technologies like radar, LIDAR, cameras, and other forms of sensors to gain input of the road and environment.
Simulation also enables these systems to be tested out in the virtual world, which would otherwise take an enormous amount of time to carry out with physical development and validation. The specialised software offered by various engineering service providers enables companies to pick their form of sensors and technologies and then adapt them to their own vehicles. These sensory systems are the lifeblood of autonomous vehicles, as the information got from them is what helps the machine analyse and make appropriate decisions.
The performance of any vehicle is of utmost importance in any case, but it becomes much more of a priority in the case of autonomous vehicles. These vehicles have a much heavier burden on them to deliver incident-free driving through their lifecycle, since any issue could lead to endangerment of human lives. However, with simulation and virtual testing in hand, it is getting much easier to develop bullet-proof systems for autonomous driving technologies, as well as bring them to market much faster.
TEXT: Naveen Arul