During on-board systems development programs, it is sometimes necessary to connect real sensor hardware to simulated environments, allowing information exchange to/from virtual worlds. This is classic Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) testing. Since virtual environments can be scripted and modified explicitly and efficiently, the advantages are self-evident. But this type of work only confirms sensor function in the context of the scripted experiments.
In many cases, vehicle development engineers may need to ask deeper, system-level questions. For example, a development engineering team might wish to understand how all the available information from a particular sensor suite might be used. In such cases, it becomes a game of “what-ifs,” and suddenly the HIL simulation task may actually become quite daunting.