“Nowadays, we can no longer imagine developing vehicles without using simulation tools.”
Interview with Dr. Jochen Schaffnit of Adam Opel AG, August 2016
Dr. Jochen Schaffnit is a Technical Integration Engineer Chassis Controls Simulation in the department of Vehicle Performance Simulation for the automobile manufacturer Opel. We talked to him about the role of virtual test driving in the range of development of vehicle dynamics as well as the entire field of active safety.
Your development process includes virtual test driving with CarMaker. What are the benefits of virtual testing and which challenges are connected to this?
Nowadays, we can no longer imagine developing vehicles without using simulation tools. At Opel, virtual test driving is an essential part of the process and will only gain in importance in the future. Especially the complex test cases for advanced driver assistance systems and safety systems can no longer be managed with in-vehicle tests only, which is why the focus is shifting more and more onto virtual test driving. A larger part of the development is moved to the virtual world in other departments as well. However, this also means that virtual test driving needs to be used efficiently. Therefore each user needs to have access to the same validated models during the entire development cycle. More and more colleagues are including virtual tests into their processes – this means that a wide range of models can be developed and tested at the same time. Each and every one of them having access to the most recent, validated state of models, test runs, vehicle data sets, etc. at all times is one major aspect.
So CarMaker is a staple for you. Which advantages does it offer in the development process?
In my opinion, virtual test driving needs to be firmly established in the development process. Only then is an efficient development achievable, especially with regard to the coordination between different departments. Here, we draw on the functionality “DataPool“, for instance, which was developed at just the right time for us. Of course, we also benefit from many special features that CarMaker offers, since the modelling of the environment, for example, is extremely important in the field of active safety systems. If we take the V-model as the standard development process, it is safe to say that CarMaker is already used at the top left of the V in a very early stage of the development. That is, during the definition of the requirements, for example the Euro NCAP requirements. This enables us to check already during the definition phase whether these requirements can be fulfilled, before our models are actually developed. Despite the fact that we sometimes use simplified models in this phase, this approach has produced very good results.
How do you imagine real and virtual test driving to be used in the future?
In the foreseeable future, testing the real vehicle for validation will still be the last stage of the vehicle development process. Due to additional features as well as the interconnection of functions, I believe that the test effort will increase considerably. The need to still run tests at an early stage and the difficulties concerning the availability of real vehicle prototypes will lead to an increase in virtual tests.