Before autonomous vehicles take the road, the AVs must be tested across a range of conditions and scenarios, including various traffic patterns, light conditions, weather, road obstacles, and pedestrian behavior.

Engineers will need to validate their designs through both simulation and road tests.

But are there weak spots in autonomous-vehicle simulation methods?

In a live presentation this month titled “Making Autonomous Vehicles Safe with Simulation,” a reader asks:

“As autonomous vehicles start to penetrate the market, where do you see the missing pieces in simulation?”

Sandeep Sovani from the Canonsburg, PA-based simulation provider ANSYS had the following response below.

Sandeep Sovani, Ph.D., Global Director, Automotive & Ground Transportation: ANSYS Inc.: The autonomous vehicle field is evolving very rapidly. We don’t have many autonomous cars commercialized and on the road today. Autonomous cars are rapidly changing and developing, and the simulation of autonomous vehicles is a rapidly changing field itself.

We have put together a fairly comprehensive solution, but there are gaps that the entire simulation industry is seeing. One of the gaps is automatically generating environmental models. I showed you [in the live presentation] some really detailed environment models of the road, with trees around and physically accurate properties and characterization of the materials. And I showed you how to paste them onto these environmental models. Eventually, however, we will need to test autonomous vehicles through large cities and very large networks of roads. We will need to create models for all of that.

Today the model rendition process is semi-automated, and it does require a lot of human labor in it. So, one of the gaps is about finding automated ways to generate the environmental models. We are working on some of the techniques for that, using scan sensor data to create environment models with as much automatic generation as possible. This is the one gap that the entire simulation industry is faced with currently.

Do you agree? What do you think? Share your comments and questions below.

Watch the full presentation: Making Autonomous Vehicles Safe with Simulation.