ADAS and autonomous vehicle testing: what does the future hold?

It has become an almost unavoidable cliché to say ADAS and autonomous vehicle development is evolving at an accelerated rate. Self-driving car trials are under way in many cities around the world as governments and the automotive industry itself strive to make roads safer. But as the automated systems and sensor arrays become more complex, so too have the methods required to develop, test and evaluate them.

So what does the future hold for ADAS and autonomous vehicle developers? Some of today’s production cars are already sold with bundled ADAS functionality offering Level 2 and even, under certain conditions, Level 3 autonomy, and it is already the case that the evaluation of some ADAS functions has become a key part of NCAP’s and the NHTSA’s testing.

Embraced by legislation

The recent confirmation that the European Commission is mandating a range of safety features for new vehicles sold in the EU from 2022, among them forward collision warning/autonomous emergency braking (FCW/AEB) and lane-keeping assist, will further accelerate the development and testing workload. In the United States, meanwhile, 20 automotive manufacturers have so far pledged to equip all their vehicles with standard AEB by the same date.

The engineers developing those systems already have a number of tools at their disposal, not least OxTS’ RT-series of GNSS/INS products. Alongside those, driving robots and guided platforms, such as those produced by AB Dynamics and widely adopted across the automotive industry, have become essential pieces of equipment.

Key to the harnessing of accurate, reliable validation data is the execution of precise, repeatable test scenarios. Tests which require one or more vehicles or mobile targets to follow a prescribed course can be performed with centimetre-level accuracy time and again using path-following steering robots and guided-platform mounted soft targets.

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