Virtual Automotive Development

| Information and Communication Technology

Delta S3 Simulator takes automotive development and prototyping a step further towards virtualisation

Jonathan Newell talks to Kia Cammaerts of Ansible Motion about the latest developments in simulation technology and virtual automotive development capabilities

Designed to be capable of validating the technologies needed to enable megatrends of electrification, autonomy and driver assistance as well as HMI and vehicle dynamics, Ansible Motion has released the production Delta series S3 Driver-in-the-Loop (DIL) simulator.

The company’s most sophisticated, high-performance, dynamic driving simulator to date, the Delta S3 simulator satisfies a growing demand for high-fidelity, high-dynamic, human-centric vehicle simulations in both road and motorsport applications.

Designed and manufactured in-house in Hethel, Norfolk, Ansible Motion’s completely new AML SMS2 Stratiform Motion System is at the heart of the Delta S3’s dynamic capabilities, delivering a best-in-class and refined physical experience. The Delta S3’s scalable architecture also means that it can be built and delivered in multiple size options, making it ideal for a broad range of automotive product development use cases such as expert driver assessments, chassis dynamics, powertrain driveability, ADAS and active safety function calibration, V2X studies and HMI design evaluations.

Towards Virtual Development

To understand more about the Delta S3, we spoke to Ansible Motion’s director, Kia Cammaerts, who says that the move towards virtual development of automotive products has been going on for some time and that the Delta S3 takes it a step further on this path.

“DIL simulation as offered by the Delta S3 is perfect for testing a wider range of scenarios than would otherwise be practical in production prototype. It provides early contact well before physical prototypes are available,” he says.

This kind of early virtual access to products can demonstrate actual human reactions to the way the vehicle behaves even in autonomous or assistive modes with the S3 informing the human of responses or providing responses to driver inputs.

Offering a lab-like environment, DIL systems can be used in any number of challenging and dangerous manoeuvres in a rapid and repeatable.

“Importantly, we can evaluate how sub-systems such as safety systems moderate their behaviour based on sensor and driver inputs,” he continues.

For example, vehicle dynamics and chassis development engineers can make use of the S3’s ability to achieve high dynamic responses in heave, pitch and roll while the linear rails provide the opportunity to do 1:1 motion cueing for lane change manoeuvres and the rapid changes of direction for developing onboard safety technologies such as stability control and collision avoidance systems.

Similarly, for validating urban driving systems, the S3’s 360° yaw capability, complemented by the new 360° panoramic vision system, will be particularly beneficial in eliminating the human immersion inconsistencies that have been a barrier for many drivers in trusting driving simulators to assist in the pre-prototype development of certain systems such as blind spot and pedestrian detection systems.

ADAS Useability

A novel use of simulation is to understand the driver’s experience of safety systems. There are often cases in which drivers disable ADAS devices because they prefer not to have the vehicle intervene.

“Autonomous emergency braking and lane keep assistance systems statistically improve safety but often the user needs to feel that it is improving the driving experience,” Cammaert says. For this reason, poor implementations of these safety systems can result in adverse user reactions based on rational choice rather than just a resistance to change.

By understanding this and evaluating driver responses and attitudes to automatic intervention systems like AEB and Lane Keeping Assist can help manufacturers achieve better brand separation and improve the uptake of advanced safety systems.

Advanced Motion Platform

Based on the innovative motion platform used by the Delta Series S3, it is capable of delivering accelerations beyond 1G, velocities above 5m/s and class-leading frequency response. The simulator is capable of full 360° dynamic yaw rotations and a set of engineered linear rails – scalable from 4 to 10 metres in length – enables sustained, independent sway and surge motions for more immersive and representative experiences for manoeuvres such as aggressive lane changing and autonomous parking.

The mechanism that carries the cabin offers a further three degrees of freedom (heave, pitch and roll) to the vehicle motion profile. Crucially, this novel design means a vehicle cabin up to 500 kg can be exercised dynamically in all six degrees of freedom at any point. This avoids the usual, complex interactions between multiple motion controllers in the control system, which can lead to inconsistencies in the motion depending on the current position or velocity of the vehicle, and it eliminates the drastic reductions in usable motion space that can occur with parallel motion systems. It also dramatically reduces the complexity of controlling and tuning the motion system for different use cases.

The Delta S3’s proprietary motion control system means human evaluators can experience the full range of vehicle behaviours from low-dynamic to high-dynamic with smooth, nuanced motion and extremely low latency. This is mission critical when real people wish to participate in virtual test drives so they can make safe and efficient evaluations.

“We have always focussed on achieving high-dynamic and high-fidelity motion for all six degrees of freedom that define a vehicle’s movement. The new Delta series S3 simulator expands on this in all areas, ensuring it’s a dependable tool that meets the demands necessary to validate future automotive technologies,” says Cammaerts.

Using HIL for DAQ

The Delta S3 makes use of the latest version of Ansible Motion’s AML DDB Distributed Data Bus, a powerful, synchronous real-time computing environment with open and modular software architecture that enables connectivity to the external simulation environments and Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) test benches required for drivetrain developments.

Effectively, this means the Delta S3 provides an opportunity for engineers and evaluators to actually drive a car with a brand-new combustion engine (ICE) or electric powertrain unit that may be operating on a dyno in a completely different location.

The low latency, high speed characteristics of 5G will provide engineers to achieve remote separation of HIL hardware whilst having the advantage of being to “plug it into” the simulator.

“ECUs (Eletronic Control Units) can be represented as software in the loop (SIL), which is convenient for rapid prototyping or HIL, with the latter being able to prove out the hardware and the ECU can in itself receive both digital and analogue data acquisition signals, generating a HIL stack,” says Cammaert.

The HIL stack is the set of data and parameters that define the response from the engine control unit. This is coupled to a virtual model that provides the parametric input, which leads to complex software models.

Additionally, the ECU also interacts with the virtual model of the vehicle and world that the driver interacts with. By using multiple HIL stacks, as some manufacturers do, with pre-qualified ECUs, the scope of virtual prototyping and testing is vast.

Jonathan Newell
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