German university installing advanced simulator to study autonomous-vehicle handover

Germany’s Kempten University Adrive Living Lab will feature latest aVDS driving simulator to research ADAS stress levels.

Researchers at Germany’s Kempten University of Applied Sciences plan to embark this year on autonomous vehicle (AV) and advanced driver-assist system (ADAS) programs that will include investigation of the safest ways to achieve handover of a vehicle when control is returned to a human driver. To do so, it is installing an AB Dynamics advanced Vehicle Driving Simulator (aVDS) that will help measure driver stress levels if the vehicle is not capable of performing a particular maneuver. The aVDS has been designed to provide high level R&D capabilities specifically for autonomous systems.

The university has established its Adrive Living Lab with the third-generation simulator helping to facilitate the study of the driver’s interaction with autonomous systems and their effect on drivers’ perceived safety and comfort. The program has identified these two areas as the most important for consumer acceptance and enthusiasm.

“Driver-in-the-loop (DiL) simulators are essential to assess the capability of ADAS and autonomous driving at an early development stage,” said Prof. Bernhard Schick of the faculties of mechanical and electrical engineering. “Complex vehicle test scenarios are difficult to carry out on real roads. A key benefit of a simulator such as the aVDS is that we can explore the subjective as well as the objective effects on the driver under a variety of circumstances.”

The aVDS has been designed to deliver the university’s required level of driver immersion, providing the necessary dynamic ability together with innovative, visual, audio and haptic assets, and vestibular cueing. Schick stressed the significance of high-dynamic capability and low-latency response times.

The university also plans to use the simulator’s architecture for the mounting a real car steering system on the platform. It will be complete from steering wheel to ball joints. The reason, said Schick, is that because a steering rack has many non-linear components that can be difficult to model. There are significant advantages to its inclusion within the simulator’s feedback loop, avoiding any inherent inaccuracy of a modeled system. Steering-based testing will include evaluation of on-center feel and driver response.

AB Dynamics Europe Managing Director, Klaus Weimart, said: “ADAS and autonomous systems will play a big part in future mobility solutions and the way we as humans interact with them is paramount to their success.” The company’s aVDS incorporates software from rFpro.

On-the-fly changes
The simulator’s capabilities include vehicle dynamics, ADAS and autonomous systems, durability, hardware-in-the-loop, software-in-the-loop and driver monitoring. The aVDS also has the ability to change suspension parameters on-the-fly or to conduct complex automated maneuvers in chaotic traffic conditions. The AB Dynamics’ aVDS utilizes “high specification” linear actuators to deliver 6DoF dynamic performance, with up to 60Hz frequency response.

This provides a tightly harmonized driving experience, stated AB Dynamics: “The motion platform can be quickly configured to take a variety of payloads up to 500kg, facilitating the installation of real vehicle cabins. Faithfully recreated vehicle dynamics can be experienced in a variety of common tests, including cornering, lane change, slalom, braking-in-turn, impulse, sine, step, ramp, swept steer, braking and more.”

The China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC) has also expanded its vehicle development capabilities via a third-generation AB Dynamics aVDS. “The use of simulators in vehicle development offers efficiency in both time and cost but it also allows us to validate autonomous technologies,” said Gongqing Li, vice chief engineer, CATARC.

“Investing in a third-generation driving simulator is essential if we are going to undertake virtual vehicle development effectively,” Li said. “The versatility of the aVDS means that vehicle systems and configurations can be rapidly tested in different driving environments with a driver in the loop. This is a core requirement for future vehicle development.”

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