Nvidia inks partnership with simulation specialist rFpro

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 18 Sep 2018

Training and testing of autonomous vehicles at rFpro.

Global computer technology company Nvidia has announced rFpro as a software partner at the GPU Technology Conference Japan 2018. rFpro will provide the virtual environment used to develop autonomous vehicles (AV) in Nvidia Drive Sim and Nvidia Drive Constellation.

Nvidia Drive Sim is a platform that simulates a self-driving vehicle’s sensors – including cameras, LiDAR and radar. It drives the company’s Nvidia Drive Constellation, a new hardware-in-the-loop virtual reality AV simulator. rFpro’s photorealistic environment ensures that training and development of the systems accurately translates into the real world.

“In order to precisely evaluate their safety, virtual development is the only realistic way to subject AVs to the uncountable number of scenarios that could take place on the road,” says Chris Hoyle, rFpro technical director. “It would simply take too much time to gather the data required. Simulation has become essential to the development of autonomous vehicles. Best of all, nobody can get hurt in a virtual world!”

According to Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang, “We have to simulate everything. Simulation is the foundation of good engineering. Simulating artificial intelligence systems is vital to success.”

A ‘3D Reconstruction’ process allows rFpro to create ‘Digital Twins’ of the real world, which ensures simulated testing matches the real-world testing. It allows the vehicle developer to physically model their vehicle’s interaction with the world, through its sensors (cameras, LiDAR, radar) and through its vehicle dynamics.

rFpro employs a technique called Physical Simulation (illustrated below), which means that lighting, weather, the atmosphere, even the way the detailed road surface is fed to the customer’s virtual-vehicle are based on the laws of physics.

“Our Physical modelling is unique as it ensures that simulation can be validated and certified, so that the process can become part of the regulatory approval process,” explains Hoyle. “Taking into account vehicle dynamics also means that a driverless vehicle can be engineered, from day one, for customer acceptance. This is a key roadblock to the adoption of autonomous vehicles – customers must actually want to ride in them, or the billions invested will be wasted.”

rFpro, a UK business, founded in 2007, has been delivering simulation solutions to the Autonomous industry since 2015. There are autonomous vehicles testing today at off-road proving grounds, such as this one at Millbrook (showcased below), that were developed, tested and trained in rFpro.

Nvidia’s AV products are being used by vehicle manufacturers such as Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and Subaru as well as major Tier1s, such as Denso, Bosch and Continental.

“Driverless vehicles are expected to save hundreds of thousands of lives each year, because of their ability to be more safe than human drivers,” concludes Hoyle. “If rFpro and NVIDIA can help to bring this day forward, by just one year, there is the potential to save a huge number of lives.”

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