Motown Gets Virtual Driverless Mcity

A simulation software specialist has created a virtual digital twin of Michigan driverless test facility, Mcity.

The digital twin of the purpose-built facility at the University of Michigan for testing connected and automated vehicles and technologies hopes to enable carmakers and technology suppliers to accelerate development using simulation. rFpro claims the virtual Mcity will result in simulated tests that correlate with real world experiments, meaning that customers can prepare ahead of each visit to the real-world site in simulation. Tests at the real-world track can also be used to validate the simulated tests, ensuring that the large-scale testing that can be achieved in simulation, is highly accurate and reliable.

Like its real-world counterpart, the digital twin contains a variety of different roadside objects and materials to ensure accurate simulation of radar, LiDAR and camera sensors. The software specialist says it used survey-grade LiDAR equipment to capture a digital copy of the environment accurate to less than 1mm. Road layouts, lanes and junctions are represented in OpenDRIVE, IPG ROAD5 and SUMO formats. As these are the three main industry standards for road network descriptions allowing the digital Mcity to be compatible with all major vehicle and modelling tools.

Huei Peng, director, Roger L. McCarthy Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan, said: “We are excited that rFpro is offering a digital twin of our facility as we believe it will bring significant value to our researchers and industry partners. The Mcity Test Facility was purpose-built for safe, repeatable testing of connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) and technologies in a controlled environment. The development of CAVs is safer, faster, and cheaper by strategically combining controlled tests and simulations, rather than relying too heavily on public road testing.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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