Ansys Acquires AV Simulation Software Specialist Optis

The automotive industry is reinventing itself thanks to the rise of autonomous vehicles, and simulation is playing a critical role in their development.

In order to bolster its own standing as the industry changes, simulation specialist Ansys announced the acquisition of Optis — a French optical simulation and virtual prototyping company.

By adding an optical sensor and closed-loop, real-time simulation software Optis has developed, Ansys can offer original OEMs a more comprehensive portfolio for simulating self-driving vehicles, while the company’s high-fidelity sensor simulation capability is extended to include Lidar and cameras.

As vehicles become increasingly electronic, engineers will need to take a systems-level approach that considers not only how a specific components — such as a new powertrain — will perform, but also its impact on other components.

Using the photo-realistic virtual reality and closed-loop simulation platform Optis has developed in combination with other Ansys platforms, OEMs will be able simulate the environment driverless vehicles are navigating, including road conditions, weather and one-way streets.

“By combining the input from a variety of sensor types, the software brain of the vehicle can construct a complete picture of its environment, in a wide range of conditions,” Eric Bantégnie, vice president of the embedded systems business unit at Ansys, wrote in a company blog postabout the acquisition.

He argued the industry was turning towards “simulated miles driven” solution for winning the race to market. This approach enables thousands of virtual vehicles to cover billions of virtual miles in mere months versus centuries.

Founded in 1970, Ansys specializes in finite element analysis, computational fluid dynamics, electronics, semiconductors, embedded software and design optimization, all engineering components required for the testing of self-driving vehicles.

Some of the company’s software, developed in partnership with Intel, helps automotive engineers leverage morphing, advanced computational fluid dynamics, high-performance computing environments and process automators to simulate multiple shape variants of a vehicle.

In addition, the Ansys Workbench platform enables automotive teams, including OEMs and multi-tier suppliers, to collaborate by sharing workflows and simulation data.

“As the industry races to develop safe autonomous vehicles, a comprehensive sensor solution is critical to autonomous vehicle development,” Optis President and CEO Jacques Delacour said in a statement. “Joining Ansys enables us to provide the best radar, lidar and camera simulation in the market within one toolset.”

Ansys is also collaborating with General Motors and the US Department of Energy to optimize electric vehicle batteries for increased performance, safety and lifespan.

Using real-world examples, Ansys addressed the complex problem of brake squeal, developing a method to compute sliding contacts between brake pads and discs.

A range of the company’s tools, including Icepak, SIwave and Mechanical, can be applied to analyze systems in a virtual design space, revealing performance aspects such as energy consumption, thermal performance and structural robustness.

“As companies race to solve the remaining engineering challenges and launch innovative, yet practical, autonomous vehicles, simulation is a competitive imperative,” Scott Stanton, director of engineering solutions for Ansys, wrote in a company white paper.

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