Driver-in-the-Loop Simulator Drives Ground-Breaking Research

The University of Texas at Austin has installed a fully integrated high-fidelity driving simulator, including a dSPACE SCALEXIO system, to facilitate ground-breaking academic research into autonomous driving systems. 

Combined Autonomous Vehicle Control System Research

The installation of an automotive driver-in-the-loop simulator at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) has been successfully completed. As one of North America’s most renowned research institutions, UT Austin’s Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering will use the motion-based Cruden AS1 system to add human driver input to its dSPACE SCALEXIO-based hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) test setup for research into the performance of autonomous vehicle control systems. 

An Industry-First for Research on Future Mobility Programs

The vehicle dynamics and traffic models from the ASM tool suite enable DIL simulation at an entirely new level by supporting multi-agent simulation.

UT Austin’s requirement for an automotive simulator that combines HIL and driver-in-the-loop (DIL) systems meant specifying a custom unit capable of rendering a multitude of driving environments and vehicle types easily and seamlessly, and as close to reality as possible. The Cruden simulator integrates with UT Austin’s existing dSPACE SCALEXIO modular real-time hardware simulation system and the dSPACE vehicle and traffic models from the Automotive Simulation Models (ASM) tool suite. The system can be used for multi-agent simulations to assess traffic scenarios with multiple ego-vehicles, including their sophisticated vehicle dynamics. In one use case, the ego-vehicles communicate with each other for the development of V2V applications. In this combination, the DIL simulator plays a crucial role for subjective-objective scenario analysis and is an industry-first installation for research on future mobility programs. The result is a realistic representation of real-life events in complex traffic scenarios with humans behind the simulator controls.  

Advanced Specifications and System Flexibility

The simulator has been specified in close cooperation with UT Austin’s Accenture Endowed Professor Junmin Wang, Director of the Mobility Systems Laboratory at the Department of Mechanical Engineering. With the advanced specification and system flexibility that allows for integrating any number of variables, UT Austin expects to forge closer ties with more automotive OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers for future research and development projects. 

Hardware and Software Work Hand in Hand

The simulator has been specified in close cooperation with UT Austin’s Accenture Endowed Professor Junmin Wang, Director of the Mobility Systems Laboratory at the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

“The Cruden system affords us the luxury of testing and validating autonomous vehicle control systems exclusively or as part of a wider scope of research where human behaviours and interactions with these systems are repeatedly monitored and observed in real time. The flexibility and ease with which the hardware and software work together enables us to conduct repeatable and measurable research on accurate representations of the vehicles, the prevailing driving environment and numerous scenarios which a driver may encounter,” says Professor Wang.  

A Specialized Tool for Accelerated Research in a Connected World

He adds “UT Austin is one of just a few universities in the United States to have this kind of dynamic motion-based system and it will enable our faculty to accelerate our research into future autonomous technology. We need to equip our students with the knowledge and expertise that employers are already demanding. Having this kind of specialized tool enables us to train the next generation of engineers in a connected world.” 

Multi-Facetted Usage in a Safe Environment

“Outside of our own department, we see the simulator benefitting studies in courses including psychology and human behavioral patterns in driving or in the medical field, testing the side-effects of driver impairment in a safe, controlled environment,” concludes Professor Wang. 

21st-Century Learning Platform for Students and Businesses Alike

Maarten van Donselaar, CEO of Cruden, says “The installation of Cruden’s advanced simulator at UT Austin showcases the flexibility of our systems to suit the needs of virtually any work of engineers, progressing from desktop simulation to OEMs, Tier 1 suppliers and world-class academic institutions. Our motion-based simulators bring a whole new level of accuracy for assessing vehicle dynamics, active environments, and human behavior with these innovative systems. We are excited to continue our support with UT Austin as it delivers a truly 21st-century learning platform for students and businesses alike.” 

The ASM Tool Suite for the Best Possible Real-World Scenario Simulation

The ASM tool suite is the basis for achieving realistic vehicle behavior simulations.

Van Donselaar adds “Using the ASM Vehicle Dynamics model, we will be able to achieve the best possible vehicle handling simulation across a wide range of scenarios. By integrating ASM Traffic, we bring real-world traffic situations to the DIL system, enabling the driver and the vehicle’s driver assistance systems to interact with other vehicles in the exact same way as they would in reality.”  

An Unparalleled Level of Immersion in a Highly Compatible System

MotionDesk enables realistic overviews of multi-agent simulation scenarios.

As part of a complete driving simulator package akin to that installed at UT Austin, which includes high-quality content, 3-D rendering, motion, and actual vehicle hardware, the Cruden and dSPACE tools offer an unparalleled level of immersion that allows subconscious interaction with the ADAS system. The system is compatible with many external ADAS development packages and supports lidar-sourced scenario databases as well as OpenDRIVE and OpenCRG.

Courtesy of the University of Texas at Austin and Cruden.   

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