Full House and Impressive Live Demonstrations

Review of Open House 2017

After an exciting intro, silence abruptly fell over Tollhaus. When the countdown to the start of Open House 2017 had ended, the suspense was palpable. More than 500 experts from the automotive industry had traveled to Karlsruhe to experience the introduction of CarMaker 6.0 live – a release which will set new standards for virtual test driving.

But before product details were presented in the sessions, the audience was welcomed by a cheerful host. Managing Director Steffen Schmidt’s excitement about the record attendance was obvious when he explained in his keynote speech why virtual test driving is in the spotlight – today more than ever: The current major topics of driver assistance, autonomous driving and energy efficiency are “real game changers which will fundamentally change the rules of traditional development and test methods”. 

These technologies require completely new test approaches which would be inconceivable without virtual methods.  

With this, Steffen Schmidt gave the cue for Prof. Dr. Eric Sax of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). In his keynote entitled “Just when I knew all the answers they changed the questions”, Prof. Sax, also director at the FZI Research Center for Information Technology, made it clear that the test processes and methods are currently lagging behind the actual technologies. While it was possible to derive tests from the specification requirements for a long time, today we are facing the dilemma that the line between pass and fail is difficult to define for an autonomous vehicle. In addition, there is a virtually infinite number of test cases which can be derived from a “test story”. 

The search for the right tests is thus much like the search for the proverbial needle in a haystack and puts new issues on the agenda such as self-learning systems, pattern recognition and swarm intelligence. These can be used to discover abnormalities in real traffic in order to obtain relevant test scenarios for the simulation.

In this context, Product Manager Dr. Andreas Höfer subsequently presented how complex road scenarios can be generated in the shortest time with the new Scenario Editor of the CarMaker product family. Within only a few minutes, Dr. Höfer created a virtual test track live on stage including an elevation profile, tunnels, intersections, buildings, trees and traffic signs before he made the virtual driver hit the road.

Managing Director Steffen Schmidt gave a thematic introduction to the event: According to the automotive systems engineering approach, current developments require consistent validation within the entire system.

According to the automotive systems engineering approach, current developments require consistent validation within the entire system.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Eric Sax of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and director at the FZI Research Center for Information Technology called for a paradigm shift with regard to test methods and processes in his keynote speech.

Dr. Andreas Höfer demonstrated how a variety of test scenarios for ADAS and autonomous functions can be generated quickly with CarMaker.

Session 1 - Driver Assistance

This impressive demonstration was the perfect introduction to the first session on the field of driver assistance for which CarMaker 6.0 offers a wide variety of new possible applications. The vehicles of the traffic model are now based on a single-track model and drive autonomously and with physical accuracy on the virtual routes. 

During the demonstration of various lane change maneuvers, the participants were able to observe this as well as methods for importing and varying measured trajectories of road users in the simulation. Product Manager Josef Henning is convinced that in terms of scenario generation “no other tool reaches this complexity”. And why does the effort pay off?

“In the interplay with physical sensor models, every detail of the scenario counts”, says Josef Henning. Depending on the application, CarMaker offers a wide range of different sensor models, from ideal sensor models for concept studies to physical models which provide raw signals for testing radar, ultrasonic or camera components.

Session 2 - Powertrain

The issue of Real Driving Emissions (RDE) in particular makes it clear why the development of propulsion systems needs to rely on virtual test driving – because virtual test driving including the driver, vehicle, road and traffic simulates all those parameters which influence real driving and thus emissions. In the second session, Dr. Christian Donn and Jochen Petters therefore demonstrated how real driving simulation can be integrated into the development process of propulsion systems.

Here, one central aspect is the fact that the driving resistance of a virtual prototype can now be parameterized based on real coast down curves by means of an enhanced data set generator. Models of CVT and dual-clutch transmissions as well as an extended interface to GT-SUITE by Gamma Technologies are other new features.

CarMaker 6.0 also includes a comprehensive EU compliant RDE route around Karlsruhe as well as a package of other common real routes. In addition, CarMaker now enables stochastic traffic simulation due to a new interface to PTV Vissim and a phenomenological traffic simulation approach by IPG Automotive. The Dyno Interface allows for the use of virtual test driving with enhanced functionality on engine, powertrain and chassis dynamometers.

Session 3 - Vehicle Dynamics

Martin Elbs started the last session of the day off by illustrating the central importance of vehicle dynamics for new concepts of mobility, particularly for autonomous vehicles. In terms of handling, Mr. Elbs expresses a tongue-in-cheek wish for an autonomous driver much like the racing driver Walter Röhrl who stands for the perfect control of a vehicle. 

At the same time, he expects the highest possible comfort as a passenger – an equally important criterion of vehicle dynamics. CarMaker 6.0 therefore includes several valuable extensions to further perfect comfort and handling. One example of this is the KnC Data Converter which allows for the generation of a powerful virtual prototype for vehicle dynamics applications based on K&C measurements on the test bench.

With durability testing, the CarMaker product family has taken over a new area of application. The first users are already utilizing the simulation software for a comparatively easy generation of realistic load curves in order to test the durability of the suspension, for instance.

SimulOscar 2017 award ceremony

After the impressive presentations and live demonstrations, the SimulOscar award was presented to the winners of this year’s competition. Prizes were awarded to outstanding academic research projects in the field of virtual test driving. Dr. Alexander Heintzel, Editor-in-Chief of ATZ/MTZ, Dr.-Ing. Michael Frey of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Steffen Schmidt presented the awards.

1st place:
Andreas Hummler - “Development of a traction control strategy for an electric all-wheel-driven vehicle”

2nd place:
Alexander Fen - “Simulative evaluation of key performance indicators of a traffic jam assist for hybrid electric vehicles”

3rd place:
Berker Çolak - “Objective evaluation of a power steering system using wheel-selective drives”

The proud winners of the SimulOscar 2017 (from left to right): Berker Çolak, Andreas Hummler and Alexander Fen