The emergence of virtual testing techniques for autonomous vehicles point to a maturing industry that is set to deliver promises of a functional, safe and exciting driverless future.
For car manufacturers developing driverless cars, recreating critical road scenarios in testing sites can be a tedious experience. Moving around traditional test dummies (like the ones deployed in collision labs by safety researchers) and manually setting up road obstacles is extremely time consuming, as well as costly to implement.
A solution to such challenges involves the utilization of virtual pedestrians and obstacles. Swedish automaker Volvo and established truck manufacturer Scania are currently leading this emerging trend, which is being leveraged at AstaZero, a private test track that host trials for developers of self-driving vehicles. The cutting-edge technology is also applicable to testing autonomous trucks, delivery bots and drones.
Deploying Virtual Pedestrians and Obstacles
Virtual pedestrians are not designed to replace trials on public roads. However, such techniques can streamline the process by reducing a range of manual aspects at the early stages of testing autonomous vehicles. For instance, on a private test site, developers may deploy virtual pedestrians crossing at a busy intersection, while a self-driving vehicle attempts to maneuver through the scenario safely.
If real model figures were used, individuals would have to reset the test dummies after every crossing. Manually resetting obstacles is also less accurate than using programs that are capable recreate the same virtual scenario in a loop, without compromising placement, speed of movement and pedestrian-like behaviors.
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