Practical autonomous driving simulation created by collaboration between in-vehicle software development and CG technology
In the development of AI-based autonomous driving systems and next-generation AD / ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems), the importance of simulation using 3D CG is increasing. It is said that if the conventional evaluation based on actual driving on test courses and public roads is used for autonomous driving systems and next-generation AD / ADAS, it will be necessary to drive hundreds of millions of kilometers. The enormous amount of testing and verification work puts a heavy burden on the development system of automobile manufacturers and suppliers.
When testing in a virtual environment with 3DCG, it is possible to reproduce existing roads and freely change conditions such as surrounding vehicles, pedestrians, and weather. By verifying with both wheels of actual driving test and simulation using 3DCG, the development of automatic driving system and next-generation AD / ADAS can be advanced more efficiently. Not only that, efforts are underway in Europe and Japan to set industry standards for virtual safety assessments of autonomous driving systems.
Advanced Data Controls (ADaC), which develops embedded software development solutions as a technical partner of Green Hills Software, is a company that focused on the importance of simulation using 3DCG at an early stage. Since 2016, we have provided 3DCG data for AI (artificial intelligence) learning of autonomous driving systems. This time, we will combine the know-how of handling 3DCG and the knowledge of in-vehicle software development to embark on strengthening the system.
Realized by combining Bosch's know-how and Japan's strengths
ADaC launched VERTechs in 2016 with a joint investment with CG video production company wise. wise is a company with many achievements in the production of virtual images using real-time rendering technology using CG and game engines. ADAC, which has been working on providing the optimum software development environment for many years, has entered the virtual simulation for the development of autonomous driving systems utilizing 3DCG and the game engine UE4 through cross-industry collaboration with wise.
In January 2021, ADaC will make Vertex a subsidiary. This is to accelerate the "visualization of the development environment," which is the proposition of ADAC, with Vertex's high-quality CG technology. Takashi Kawahara, Chairman and CEO of ADaC, said, "The optimal software development environment comes to the point where we develop and visually verify that the software works and executes as the developer intended in the virtual environment. From the teacher data required for learning to the simulator that confirms the behavior of the developed AI, Vertex's CG technology lives on. "
<Mr. Takashi Kawahara, Chairman of ADAC>
Mr. Yoshiya Okoyama, CEO of Vertex, said, "ADaC has traditionally prepared a lineup of products required for software development with the aim of making it possible to develop invisible things in a form close to human logic. Was the expression source code, but from now on it will evolve into the form of simulation. "
By making Vertex a subsidiary, we will further promote the fusion of software development knowledge in the automobile industry and high-quality 3D CG technology, and provide tools that are indispensable for software development of AD / ADAS and autonomous driving systems.
Vertex is not a "simulator company" !?
Simulations used in the development of autonomous driving systems and AD / ADAS can be divided into "frameworks" for simulation environments and "scenarios" for building vehicles in virtual space. Frameworks are the target for setting industry standards in Europe and Japan.
Regarding frameworks, in Europe, organizations across the automobile industry such as the PEGASUS Project and ASAM (Association for Standardization of Automation and Measuring Systems) are developing specifications for simulation tools, test automation, databases, and interfaces that connect them. .. In Japan, the Cabinet Office's Strategic Innovation Creation Program (SIP) is playing a central role in building a safety evaluation environment (DIVP: Driving Intelligence Validation Platform) in virtual space.
In the framework of such a simulation environment in Japan and Europe, the addition of a function to reproduce the conditions where the sensors of AD / ADAS and the automatic driving system may cause recognition failure, the reproduction of the test items of the automobile assessment (NCAP), etc. are discussed. , The format of the data related to the driving environment has already been decided. Furthermore, we have entered the formulation of scenario specifications, and it is said that more than 100 million scenarios are required on a SIL (Software-in-the-Loop) basis in order for autonomous driving systems to be certified for mass production. ing.
Based on these trends, it can be said that simulation using 3DCG must proceed from the stage of confirming its effectiveness in development to the stage of actually using it by actually constructing a framework and creating test environment data.
Vertex's target is to provide an environment that makes it easy to build scenarios rather than frameworks. Mr. Okoyama said, "If you compare it to a game, you can say that the framework is the main body of the game machine and the scenario is equivalent to the game software. We are closely following the trends of the standard of the" game machine "under development in Japan. We are in a position to provide "game software" for Japan. We support the construction of scenarios for Japan that incorporate Japanese traffic conditions, road signs, traffic rules, etc. Currently, frames that correspond to "game consoles" mainly in Europe Work development is accelerating, but first of all, the scenario construction of the country or region where they are based is prioritized, and it will be difficult for overseas players to immediately capture the special traffic environment of Japan. It is possible that the region with a large automobile market will be prioritized. If you wait passively, you may end up in a situation where there are not many "game software" to use in Japan. "
<Mr. Yoshiya Okoyama, CEO of Vertex>
At Vertex, there is also a person in charge of research in Europe, who feeds back to Japan the trends of discussions on the simulation environment in consortia and working groups, and the outlook for specifications.
Here, the strength of the collaboration between ADAC and Vertex is demonstrated. Based on the trends of the domestic and overseas automobile industry that ADaC is aware of and the achievements of ADaC for 38 years since its establishment, it is possible to promote the use of game engines in the simulation of in-vehicle software development at Vertex. "There aren't many companies that can handle game engines with solid guidelines for the automobile industry. This is our greatest strength," said Mr. Okoyama.
"AUTO City" is a product that becomes "game software" for Japan. The game engine "Unreal Engine" can be used as a work environment for creating a virtual city and as a simulation of sensors such as cameras. Until now, Vertex has focused on the business of contract development of scenarios required by customers with a single item, and the provision of 3D CG data, which is a component of scenarios. This time, it has been updated as an asset of 3D CG data that can build scenarios in cooperation with various frameworks of various simulation environments as well as "Unreal Engine". Mr. Okoyama explains, "The feature of this time is that instead of providing the ingredients for cooking, we provide each dish so that we can add and subtract the ingredients."
AUTO City consists of three solutions. "AUTO City: 3DCG Database" is a database of virtual cities and roads. The "AUTO City: Sensor Model Package" is a package of cameras mounted on cars running in the virtual driving environment of Unreal Engine and virtual sensors such as LiDAR. It consists of three solutions, "AUTO City: Plugin," which connects Unreal Engine to AI for autonomous driving systems. If desired, the three solutions can be used separately. Virtual sensors are also looking to collaborate with those provided by sensor manufacturers in the future.
<Figure Example of database and virtual sensor provided by AUTO City>
Unreal Engine is a game engine that has the advantage of being able to be used not only as a work environment for producing CG images, but also as a sensor simulation environment by taking advantage of the fact that it is possible to express physically accurate light. Originally aimed at game development, the speed of updates and evolution is fast. From the perspective of the automobile industry, the strength of Vertex and ADaC is that it can quickly catch up with trends in different fields and incorporate them into autonomous driving systems and AD / ADAS simulation environments.
Simulations specific to Japanese scenarios are by no means exclusive to Japanese automakers and suppliers. "It is said that it will take a considerable number of years to put autonomous vehicles into practical use in Japan's complex traffic environment, especially in urban areas. However, if there is a better solution, overseas companies can also use autonomous driving systems for Japan. I think we will be active in development. We are also working with a view to making proposals to overseas companies, "says Kawahara.
The future of virtual manufacturing
ADaC and Vertex have been proposing 3D CG simulations to the automobile industry since 2016. Incorporating CG into in-vehicle software development is new to the automobile industry, and although the road to penetration has not been smooth, "I'm convinced that there is definitely a market," said Mr. Okoyama. Currently, automakers are beginning to recognize the importance of software, such as by proclaiming a shift to a "software-first" system. An increasing number of companies are focusing their resources on software development.
Software has more functions than hardware, and it is becoming more complex. This is the trend for the Internet of Things (IoT) in general, including automobiles. In such an environment, there is a limit in the situation where it is not known whether or not the programmed software will operate as intended until it is installed in the actual vehicle. “That's why it is necessary to“ visualize ”the development environment, and it is important to provide a development environment where software engineers can immediately understand what they are doing,” says Kawahara.
Mr. Okoyama said, "There is a division between the physical world of conventional manufacturing and the virtual world. With the idea of adding the virtual world as an extension of the physical world, the virtual world to be added is You may feel that it is too big. I feel that it is necessary to proceed with manufacturing from the point where virtual and real coexist. Vertex will become a subsidiary of ADaC, and technology to connect to digital twins is required. We aim to be a person who can respond when we do. "
<ADaC and Vertex will strengthen cooperation and expand 3D CG simulation to the automobile industry>
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Reprinted from: TechFactory
TechFactory Reprinted from the article published on January 21, 2021
This article is published with permission from TechFactory