If driving the Trans-Canada Highway in Newfoundland is not quite adventurous enough for you (and if the ripping wind does not force you to park your vehicle on the roadside), it might be worth your time to head for the northern-most extremes that can be reached, up highway 430 out of Deer Lake. It will take every bit of 5 hours to reach L'Anse aux Meadows, the spot where (as far as we know) humans first closed the loop on global exploration, where European Viking culture bumped into American Native culture sometime around the year 1000 CE.
If you are an engineer who uses driving simulators to develop Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), then the terminology “ground truth” means something specific to you. Ground truth representations define how your sensors and on-board systems interact with the virtual world, with calculated surfaces and objects. But if you are a technical manager, “ground truth” can have a double meaning.
I must apologize. I spend so much time “inside the loop” with driving simulator technology that I can unintentionally skip fundamentals when speaking with someone. This was recently brought to my attention in a conversation with a non-automotive technologist (a physicist, actually) who asked me about automotive industry trends, and how Driver-in-the-Loop simulators fit into the big picture.
Traditionally, subjective evaluation of steering system performance has required the use of real test vehicles on real proving grounds. This stands to reason because the tactile feedback of a steering wheel is such an important part of the subjective driving experience, and historically speaking, the simulation of steering feeling has been one of the most challenging performance tasks for driving simulators.
Having just recently returned from the Autonomous Vehicle Symposium 2015, I am at my desk, gathering a few thoughts and notes -- and travel receipts. The Symposium, a selection of technical presentations from the world’s leading automotive companies and suppliers, was held in Stuttgart, Germany on June 16-18 as a companion event to the long-standing Automotive Testing Expo. Judging by the headcount, delegate credentials, depth of information, and consensus of those with whom I’ve spoken the symposium was a resounding success, and I strongly suspect recurrences of this event and the emergence of other events much like it. “Autonomous vehicles,” as it turns out, is a very popular topic these days.
There is no question that one of the biggest challenges for ground vehicle Driver-in-the-Loop (DIL) simulation in the area of vehicle dynamics is reducing system latencies down to an acceptable level. Since even minuscule delays and inconsistencies between driver actions and inertial, visual and other feedbacks are readily sensed by the driver, improperly executed DIL simulations can cause lackluster driving experiences, and sometimes even cause motion sickness.
There is a broad spectrum of Driver-in-the-Loop (DIL) simulators in use in the world today – Ranging from low cost gaming-oriented devices to multi-million dollar simulators that can fill up an entire room. If we are interested in DIL simulators for their potential to assist with particular areas of vehicle development or driver assessment, we might be interested in certain types of simulators, but not others. For example, if our interest is in finding a tool primarily to help develop Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) or Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems, we may find that certain types of DIL simulators are better suited due to the technology employed or fundamental performance capabilities.