Simulation & Testing

Revolutionizing automotive design: Insights on simulation’s role in enhancing vehicle performance

Telematics Wire in discussion with Mike Yeager, Area Vice President, India and Japan, Ansys; explores how simulation is being used to improve the design and development of next-generation vehicles, with a focus on Ansys’ simulation tools and their role in ADAS and autonomous vehicle development.

Q. Can you share insights on how simulation is used to optimize the new generation of vehicle performance and enhance user experience?

The convergence of various technologies, including sensors, SDV (Software-Defined Vehicles), edge/cloud computing, 5G connectivity, electrified powertrains, alternate energy sources like hydrogen, and advanced manufacturing methods like 3D printing, is reshaping the automotive sector. With a multitude of requirements coming from the perspective of safety, sustainability, performance, and user experience, vehicle design and development has become very complex. Engineers face significant challenges in managing design complexity, reducing test-fail-fix-repeat cycles, assuring safety compliance, and performing expensive physical tests. To address the engineering challenges and complexities, automakers are migrating from legacy development to a more integrated and software-driven approach, physics-based simulation, and virtual validation. Simulation empowers engineers through early design and verification to see what works, without investing time into building physical models for every prototype. This helps engineers achieve optimized designs that meet safety, performance, and user experience goals. Automotive companies leverage simulation across various engineering aspects from component, sub-system to the system level; as mentioned below with a few examples:

  • Safety and autonomy: safe system design, physics-based sensor modelling, design, selection, integration and optimization, software, and system validation.
  • Electrified powertrain: modeling and analysis of battery, electric motors, and power electronics. Simulation aids in optimizing multiple physics enhancing overall vehicle safety, reliability, and performance.
  • Connectivity and user experience: V2V/V2X, vehicle-level EMI/EMC, cybersecurity analysis, digital cockpit design
  • Software-defined vehicles:  system safety, reliability, model-based certified embedded software, and code generation

Q. How has the Automotive industry responded to Ansys Simulation, especially for ADAS / Autonomous applications?

Automotive customers are facing unprecedented challenges in developing ADAS / AV applications. ADAS / AV systems rely on multiple sensors to perceive the environment and a sophisticated, machine learning-based AI algorithm to make the decisions. As you can imagine, sensors are critical in realizing ADAS/AV systems. A combination of multiple sensors may be used to reliably detect the environment, including cameras, radar, LiDAR, etc. Each kind of sensor has numerous parameters that influence the perception. For example, in a camera, we have parameters such as resolution, focal length, field of view, exposure, signal-to-noise ratio, etc. In addition, we also need to consider vehicle integration parameters to ensure adequate road and traffic coverage under most driving scenarios. Choosing the sensor placement is not only a matter of function; aesthetic placement is just as important. 

Ansys is the leader in the physics-based simulation domain. We offer sensor simulation capabilities based on the underlying physical phenomena, which provide the most accurate results as required by the decision-making software. This enables the feature owners to develop and test the functionality with scenarios closer to the real world without covering miles of the physical world. Ansys simulation enables our customers to speed up the overall development without compromising the accuracy of real-world scenarios. As you can imagine, this brings huge value to our customers, who are excited to adopt Ansys simulation in their ADAS / AV development environment.  

Q. Which sector is a major user of Ansys Autonomous Vehicle Simulation- OEM, Tier1, startups, academia or government agencies?

We have customers cutting across the segments, using simulation to advance their engineering. Today, we are in the world of generative AI, and no one needs convincing its power. We have witnessed interest from our customers across the domain to adopt and harness the power of AI. In the physical world, we need sensors to provide real-world perception to AI. Sensor simulation brings unique value to each customer, whether OEMs, suppliers, academia, startups, or government agencies. Our customers may be building autonomous ground vehicles or flying systems. They may be developing innovative medical systems or strategic unmanned aerial systems; simulation plays an equally important role. Leading automotive OEMs and Tier-1s have been leveraging Ansys’ AV solution for their requirements around safe system design, sensor simulation, perception software validation, functional safety and SOTIF analysis, and so on. Even in academia, simulation has become an integral part of the curriculum for multiple disciplines across major government autonomous engineering institutes. Ansys has been playing a pivotal role in driving ADAS/AV simulation adoption by establishing centres of excellence for auto component manufacturers, engineering service providers, incubators, and standard bodies.

Q. Are simulation tools primarily used for validating and verifying ADAS functionalities for safety and performance?

Simulation plays a critical role in enhancing the safety of autonomous vehicles by enabling thorough testing, validation, and optimization of various components and scenarios. Simulation is used for both the design and validation of systems. In the case of an autonomous system, simulation can be used to test and validate the system in a wide range of scenarios, including rare and complex situations that are hard to replicate in the real world. As we discussed, simulation can help validate the sensors and algorithms to help identify and address potential issues before deployment. Simulation can also help reduce compliance tests by proving the results in a virtual world and speeding up the compliance process. 

Q. Does Ansys support research and development of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving (AD) technologies in India and Japan? (Collaboration with academia, research centres, etc.)

Our top priorities at Ansys are collaboration with academia and supporting research activities. We have a dedicated academic team across the APAC region, and their main objective is to expand simulation awareness and enable young engineers and researchers. We have tie-ups with multiple engineering and research centres worldwide, and Ansys simulation tools are effectively used for teaching and research. We also partner with some of the institutions to assist in developing new course curricula and materials – keeping with the demands of the industry. 

Q. What are your thoughts on the role of cloud computing in the simulation and testing of future automotive architectures?

Connected vehicle features are becoming increasingly important. A natural extension to connected vehicles is SDV or Software-Defined Vehicles. In a SDV, software plays a crucial role in managing various aspects of its operation, ranging from core functionalities to advanced features, including over-the-air updates. 

Q. Do you think the regulatory landscape will impact the development and deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles in these markets? Standards & functional safety.

Regulations play an essential role in shaping the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles. Government bodies worldwide are actively working on establishing regulatory frameworks to ensure the safe and responsible integration of autonomous vehicles into road networks. Three significant aspects need to be addressed concerning safety and security. 

The first is about functional safety. Functional safety deals with failures and malfunctions of the vehicle’s systems that might lead to undesired outcomes. A systematic analysis of vehicle functions at the system, sub-system, hardware, software, and integration levels can help identify various issues and define mitigative actions to make the vehicle safer for road users. ISO 26262 is an international functional safety standard widely adopted by the industry to ensure compliance. 

As we move towards ADAS / AV systems, potential weaknesses in the sensors and algorithms could lead to undesired outcomes despite all hardware and software functioning. This comes under the Safety of Intended Functionality or SOTIF, covered by ISO 21448. Systematic analysis of various scenarios and covering a wide array of environmental conditions can help expand the coverage and ensure reasonable safety for road users. 

And finally, cyber security becomes paramount in connected and autonomous vehicles. An external actor that manages to access vehicle communication systems could potentially take control of the vehicle and cause undesired outcomes.  A vehicle must be thoroughly analysed to look for vulnerabilities and threat potential, and then, the issues must be addressed to ensure security challenges. 

Ansys offers the industry’s best solution to help our customers perform safety, SOTIF, and security analysis and comply with the standards. 

Q. What advice would you give young engineers and aspiring leaders in the automotive industry?

The automotive industry is going through a transformation. On the one hand, there is a focus on alternate fuels, such as electrification and fuel cell-based technology, to replace internal combustion engines. On the other hand, there is increased dependence on software and electronics to deliver ADAS / AV solutions. To put it simply, the automotive domain is reinventing itself! The industry is facing a considerable challenge, but on the other hand, it is an equally massive opportunity for our young and motivated engineers! Some critical attributes needed for success are being open and willing to take risks and to never stop learning. 

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