rFpro platform enables testing of autonomous vehicles via simulation
UK-based driving simulation company, rFpro, has launched what it says is the world’s first commercially available platform to train and develop autonomous vehicles in simulation. Using a digital environment to accurately represent the real world, the technology is designed to enable vehicle manufacturers to test their systems in numerous scenarios.
“Autonomous vehicles are the future, the market is expected to be worth up to $10 trillion, but debate is rising about whether these vehicles should be allowed on our roads, if not, how do we develop them?” said Chris Hoyle, rFpro Technical Director. “Our platform enables vehicle manufacturers to thoroughly test their technology and be absolutely confident in their systems before validation on real roads. The vehicle hardware, such as the cameras and sensors, are already approaching the level required to achieve a fully autonomous world but it is the 'brain,' the vehicle’s ability to make appropriate decisions. That needs to be further developed.”
rFpro says the key to its platform is the level of accuracy achieved in replicating the real world in simulation. This reportedly enables the various sensors used for autonomous vehicles to react naturally, and therefore, test results are completely representative. The company has been producing a library of real roads created through precise scanning technology, which forms the basis of the simulation. Hundreds of kilometers of public road models are available off-the-shelf, from rFpro, spanning North America, Asia, and Europe, including multi-lane highways, urban, rural, mountain routes, all copied closely from the real world. As it is a digital platform, users have control of all the variables, such as traffic, pedestrians, weather, and location, enabling them to test every eventuality.
“By using multiple computers 24/7, manufacturers can undertake millions of miles of testing every month using our platform,” said Hoyle. “Humans can also be introduced into the simulation, controlling surrounding cars or pedestrians, so we can assess an autonomous vehicle’s decision making and also the interaction between the vehicle and the driver, but most importantly it is carried out in a safe environment.”
The technology has been developed over the past three years; it has been adopted by two major vehicle manufacturers, who are conducting more than 2 million miles of testing per month, and three autonomous car developers. The system is also being used by a driverless motorsport series.
“Autonomous vehicles will revolutionize road safety, much more than ABS (antilock braking system), AEB (automatic emergency braking), or stability systems have done before it,” said Hoyle. “It has the real potential to create a largely accident-free road network. Allowing autonomous vehicles onto the roads is an essential part of the validation process, but our platform enables all of the testing to be carried out in a completely safe environment. Further to this, it significantly reduces the cost and time required to develop these complex systems, bringing the vehicles to market sooner.”
To see a video showing how rFpro’s platform is used to train autonomous vehicles, visit https://vimeo.com/263002950.