Reducing costs of autonomous vehicle development without compromising AV Safety
The development and successful deployment of autonomous vehicles is expensive. The need for advanced sensor technology, onboard computing hardware and software, extensive real-world testing and regulatory compliance are just a few of the factors that can drive up costs. AV simulation has emerged as a promising solution to address these high development costs.
The High Development Costs of AVs and the Role of AV Simulation
Developing Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) is expensive. It involves substantial investments in advanced sensor technologies, such as LIDAR, cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors, plus onboard computing hardware and software for processing the huge amounts of sensor data and making real-time decisions. Further complicating and adding to the cost is real-world testing and validation, both of which are time and resource intensive. Obtaining regulatory compliance and certifications adds to an already eyewatering financial burden. So, with autonomous vehicles needing to have completed nearly one billion miles to be deemed ‘safe’, what’s the solution? AV simulation is a software solution that creates a hyper-realistic and controlled virtual environment for testing, validating and improving AV systems without the complexities and safety concerns of real-world testing. Broadly speaking, there are two types of simulation: deterministic, which yield the same results for identical input conditions, and stochastic, which incorporate randomness. In each case, key components of AV simulations include sensor models, vehicle dynamics, traffic, and environment. To learn more about the key differences between deterministic and stochastic models take a look at our Technical Blog here
Developing Autonomous Vehicles involves substantial investments in advanced sensor technologies, such as LIDAR.
How AV Simulation Reduces Development Costs
AV simulation offers several advantages that can help reduce development costs and accelerate the deployment of autonomous vehicles. Firstly, simulation reduces the reliance on real-world testing, which as we’ve seen above, involves significant costs related to test vehicles, equipment, and infrastructure, along with being time and resource-intensive. Thus, by replicating real-world conditions in a virtual environment, developers can test their systems without the need for extensive on-road testing and without the inherent cost concerns. Secondly, AV simulation enables faster iteration cycles, allowing developers to identify system weaknesses rapidly, streamline debugging and optimise performance. By reducing the time required for testing and validation, simulation helps shorten time-to-market, which is crucial in the competitive and rapidly progressing landscape of AV development. Third, simulation platforms facilitate comprehensive testing in diverse scenarios, including rare and hazardous events that are difficult to recreate in real-world testing. This exposure to a wide range of conditions enhances the robustness and reliability of AV systems, ultimately improving their safety and performance. Something which just is not realistically feasible in real-world testing. Furthermore, AV simulation can help streamline regulatory compliance by providing a controlled environment for testing safety-critical scenarios and generating the necessary performance data to support certification processes. This reduces the complexity of obtaining approvals and certifications, cutting down on time and costs associated with regulatory compliance. Additionally, AV simulation allows developers to optimize sensor and hardware configurations by virtually testing different sensor configurations and placements, as well as evaluating the performance of various hardware components. This cost-effective exploration of alternative system designs can result in more efficient and affordable AV systems. Finally, by identifying design flaws and potential issues early in the development process, simulation reduces the risk of costly recalls and post-deployment modifications. This not only saves financial resources but also enhances the overall product quality and reputation of the AV manufacturer.
Simulation – The final piece of the puzzle for Autonomous Vehicle testing?
Not quite. AV simulation can and does play a critical role in reducing the high development costs associated with autonomous vehicles. As we’ve seen above, by offering a realistic and controlled virtual environment for testing and validation, simulation platforms can accelerate the development process, improve system performance and safety, and streamline regulatory compliance; however, it’s not a one solution fits all approach. That’s why we offer a range of technical simulation support and development options. These can help customers design and implement AV programmes faster, more efficiently and at optimal cost. Just as importantly, we understand that to ensure customers achieve true commercial value and project success, AV simulation platforms have to be used as part of a suite of development tools that are integrated with real-world testing. The crucial point is that, used correctly, this suite of tools minimises the need for real-world testing, shortens the time to market and creates a vital competitive edge.
Written by: Rob Jones – Business Development Manager
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