AB Dynamics, a test system supplier, is contributing key technologies to the German PEGASUS project, a €34 million ($43.18 million) national initiative to establish industry-wide quality standards and test procedures for automated vehicle functions. AB Dynamics was identified as one of the few companies with the technology to control multiple vehicles accurately and repeatably enough to ensure consistent and actionable test results.
Within PEGASUS, TÜV SÜD, a global technical services supplier, is responsible for physical testing on proving grounds. TÜV SÜD uses AB Dynamics’ Flex-0 for by-wire control, path following for active guidance and Synchro for synchronisation of targets and test vehicles. In addition, AB Dynamics’ range of hardware, including driving robots, Guided Soft Targets and the LaunchPad platform for vulnerable road user targets can be used to bring test scenarios to life. These are proven solutions from AB Dynamics that can be used to meet PEGASUS’ requirements for the implementation and execution of complex test scenarios. They also enable the seamless integration of the individual elements that are required within the PEGASUS tool chain. In this case, TÜV SÜD is applying a Kia Niro fitted with a PolySync Drive Kit for “by-wire” control, but the concept can also be used with a range of other cars, for example the Kia Soul or Chrysler Pacifica.
“Proving the safety and reliability of automated and autonomous systems before they are permitted to share road space with the public remains a major challenge facing the automotive industry,” said Robert Matawa, Lead Engineer Testing and Certification HAD, TÜV SÜD. “While the technical building blocks for autonomous control exist, the task of training a self-learning system to cope with the complexity of the real world requires new methods and approaches. The standards to which a vehicle would be certified, and even the test procedures to demonstrate compliance, have yet to be developed and agreed upon.”
In order to accelerate the safe introduction of autonomous vehicles and systems, the four-year PEGASUS project, part-funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, brings together 17 partners from the German automotive industry, including OEMs, suppliers and research institutions. Their objectives are to define standardised test procedures, develop a flexible and continuous tool chain, and create a common method of safeguarding highly automated driving functions.
AB Dynamics will support the PEGASUS project’s drive for consistency in two important ways. Firstly, the company’s common software protocols and open interface for desktop, laboratory and track testing will reduce engineering workload while also simplifying data management – also allowing the direct comparison of results from different test regimes. Secondly, its range of complementary track test technologies will enable autonomous vehicles to be tested cost-effectively in proximity to a variety of other road users and vehicle types.
“Testing autonomous functionality necessitates highly complex traffic scenarios involving multiple vehicles that are positioned accurately and whose movements must be perfectly synchronised; otherwise the significance of data from repeated tests is severely diminished,” explained Andrew Pick, Business Director – Track Test Systems, AB Dynamics. “We can supply Guided Soft Targets for use where there is the potential for collision. Other ‘background’ traffic, at minimal risk of collision, can be populated by regular cars using Flex-0 control as a cost and time-effective solution. Even vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, can be included by mounting dummies on our LaunchPad or SPT motorised platforms. The movement of every entity is coordinated through our Synchro system using TrackFi wireless telemetry.”
“Effective safety approval for automated vehicle functions would demand unlimited time and resources unless we develop new methods and tools,” concluded Matawa. “The PEGASUS project aims to provide these by creating a database of relevant scenarios from multiple sources, and a common, complete tool chain with which to process it. AB Dynamics supplies many of the key ingredients that enable us to fulfil this important task.”