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A dSPACE virtual vehicle hardware-in-the-loop simulator system used at Scania for validating embedded software.

Making the revolution--Driver assistance systems

The mobility technology world is abuzz with the wild explosion of technology infusion—driver assistance systems, autonomous vehicles, connected vehicles, security, infotainment, lightweighting, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, platooning, electrification, hybrid powertrains, natural gas powered engines, GPS-enabled controls for fuel efficiency and safety, and the list goes on. This is a very, very exciting time for the industry, for the engineers, and for the consumers alike.

News of these technology introductions in production are coming rapidly. MAN is promoting its automatic emergency brake assistance, GPS-enabled cruise control, adaptive cruise controls, and other advanced system features. Daimler Trucks also announced the active brake assist, camera-based lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control features for its Detroit series. Truck manufacturers are also raving about their ultra-efficient engine technologies. And, just recently, Oshkosh announced an unmanned ground vehicle. These are all tell-tale signs of a technological revolution in the making.

All of these innovations are generating a lot of excitement and a lot of uncertainty at the same time. As can be seen from above, leading this revolution are advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). These systems are enabling the change by developing a comfort level with drivers to hand over the control of their vehicles to electronic systems. Success in developing this comfort and, thereby, wide-scale adoption of these technologies is the key to leading us to a fully autonomous future on our highways. I am sure the end result of this revolution will be an ultra-efficient, modern, mobility solution.

When all these developments become a reality estimated by 2025, as projected by many market studies, we will have a super-efficient, autonomous, and connected vehicle delivering our precious cargo where it needs to be, when we want it to be, safely, and in a fully traceable manner. Well, one might ask, if the autonomous vehicle technology is available now, as shown by the Oshkosh truck, autonomous mining trucks and DARPA competitions in the past, why delay the introduction for the commercial use?

Yes, the technology is there, but the complexity is the fact that these automated trucks will run on the same roads and environment as our passenger vehicles, and the safety regulations and expectations driven by NCAP bodies are significantly important and difficult to achieve.

This leads to the question: How are we achieving this technological change? It is clearly enabled by the availability of fast and advanced processors allowing for a large amount of embedded software infusion onto our vehicles. We are truly at a point where vehicles are now computers on the wheels. The highly networked and complex architecture of these computers is enabling this revolution.

Over the last couple of decades, industries have matured the process of moving technical innovations from ideas to vehicles in a rapid manner by leveraging model-based design (MBD) for their embedded software development process. The complexity of these systems is unprecedented and enormous. Fortunately, our customers now have the technological wherewithal to manage this complexity through the comprehensive, integrated tool chains that dSPACE has matured over the years by working closely with leading, innovative companies across the industries.

Our customers are taking on this challenge seriously. As this video demonstrates, MAN is testing the advanced features of its products through fully automated hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) test solutions. Scania is another customer that has taken this challenge seriously.

Clearly, the legislative aspect is one of the drivers of the innovation agenda, but the significant need is also the competitive edge that companies need to compete in this fast changing and super competitive technology landscape. Truck OEMs and suppliers can derive this competitive edge by using beneficial MBD technologies, and end-to-end, integrated tool chains like dSPACE, to deliver highly sophisticated product features.

Imagine a company being able to deliver feature-packed products at a competitive price and saving important R&D dollars along the way. A healthier bottom line for this company will lead to even more R&D to create the next generation of features and, ultimately, successful autonomous vehicles.

This is a revolution. It will have winners and it will have losers. It will shake the industry, and the companies that realize the pace of technology change and adapt to this change by innovating faster and by riding the wave to develop the next generation of advanced features efficiently will win.

Mahendra Muli, Director of Marketing and New Business Development, dSPACE Inc., wrote this article for SAE Off-Highway Engineering.

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