Nvidia Partnering to Bring Driverless Virtual Testing into Real World

Gaming giant Nvidia has announced a partnership it hopes will resolve discrepancies that arise between real-world and virtual driverless vehicle testing.

It has signed an agreement with British drive simulation software specialist rFpro which will provide the virtual environment used to develop autonomous vehicles (AV) in the Nvidia Drive Sim and Nvidia Drive Constellation products. The former is a platform that simulates a self-driving vehicle’s sensors, including cameras, LiDAR and radar, while the latter is a hardware-in-the-loop virtual reality AV simulator. It is hoped rFpro’s photo-realistic environment will ensure that training and development of the systems accurately translates into the real world.

The UK company’s ‘3D Reconstruction’ process claims to create ‘Digital Twins’ of the real world allowing vehicle developers to physically model their vehicle’s interaction with the world, through its sensors array and through its vehicle dynamics. A technique called Physical Simulation means that lighting, weather, the atmosphere, even the way the detailed road surface is fed to the customer’s virtual-vehicle are based on the laws of physics.

Meanwhile, Hyundai Mobis has just announced that it plans to use 3D video game development software to develop a simulated driving environment for AVs. It is doing this because it hopes to improve the efficacy of the camera sensors it has been developing for AVs.

Hyundai claims that by doing this, it can out-perform its competitors as a result of its access to “mock environments similar to those used in computer games to verify the performance of sensors in the desired manner anytime and anywhere”.

Commenting on his company’s partnership with Nvidia, rFpro technical director Chris Hoyle said: “In order to precisely evaluate their safety, virtual development is the only realistic way to subject AVs to the uncountable number of scenarios that could take place on the road. It would simply take too much time to gather the data required. Simulation has become essential to the development of autonomous vehicles. Best of all, nobody can get hurt in a virtual world!”

Nvidia chief executive officer Jensen Huang commented: “We have to simulate everything. Simulation is the foundation of good engineering. Simulating artificial intelligence systems is vital to success.” The company’s products are being used by vehicle manufacturers such as Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and Subaru as well as major Tier 1s, such as Denso, Bosch and Continental.

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

Additional reporting for this story was provided by Greg Hyde.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *