The new computer system will help autonomous vehicles to learn how to avoid accidents by correctly interpreting the road scene detected by its sensors.
rFpro originally developed the technology for Formula 1 teams to accurately replicate the behaviour of a vehicle. But seeing the rise of autonomous vehicles, Chris Hoyle, rFpro technical director, saw an opportunity to adapt the technology to develop and train the systems these vehicles use.
“The company started, completely by accident, when some simulation software I gave away free on the internet, 10 years ago, attracted the attention of a Formula 1 team. We used software based on gaming technology to revolutionise driving simulation,” said Hoyle.
“Debate is rising about whether these vehicles should be allowed on our roads, if not, how do we develop them? An evolution of our platform enables vehicle manufacturers to thoroughly test their technology and be absolutely confident in their systems before validation on real roads. The key to autonomous vehicle adoption is the development of the vehicle’s ‘brain’, its ability to make appropriate decisions, that’s what our technology helps with.”
Using a digital environment to accurately represent the real world, the technology enables vehicle manufacturers to test their systems in every scenario imaginable. The company has been producing a library of real roads created through highly-precise scanning technology, which forms the basis of the simulation. As it is a digital platform, users have control of all the variables, such as traffic, pedestrians, weather and location, enabling them to test every eventuality.
“By using multiple computers 24/7, manufacturers can undertake millions of miles of testing every month using our platform,” added Hoyle. “Humans can also be introduced into the simulation, controlling surrounding cars or pedestrians, so we can assess an autonomous vehicle’s decision making and also the interaction between the vehicle and the driver, but most importantly it is carried out in a safe environment.”
The technology specific to autonomous vehicles has been developed over the last three years and has already been adopted by two major vehicle manufactures and three autonomous car developers. It is also being used by a driver-less motorsport series.