Swarm test collaboration with VW, Audi, and Porsche

In a ground-breaking collaboration, AB Dynamics demonstrated its swarm test solution when it joined forces with automotive giants Volkswagen (VW), Audi, and Porsche. 

In the real world, vehicle interactions often involve multiple vehicles. When replicating these complex interactions in ADAS and automated driving test scenarios, even skilled human drivers cannot deliver the accuracy and repeatability needed to thoroughly investigate test vehicle behaviour. Multi-vehicle testing where the vehicles in the swarm are robot and software-controlled eliminates variation between test runs, which is vital for generating comparable data. However, precisely coordinating several automated vehicles in close proximity to a test vehicle had been a challenge for the industry.

The solution

In 2021, AB Dynamics collaborated with VW, Audi, and Porsche to conduct a large swarm test of vehicles equipped with our driverless solution at the Nardò Technical Center in Italy. In addition to the subject vehicle, the swarm tests included synchronising four driverless vehicles controlled by AB Dynamics driving robots, two under CAN control using Flex-0 controllers and a GST.

The team at AB Dynamics overcame the communication challenge by implementing a its dual-band TrackFi PowerMesh radio system. This system provided highly dependable data transfer from vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-base through secure mesh networks, avoiding the interference and signal loss that can occur with standard WLAN technology when used with multiple vehicles. The communication platform allowed our Synchro software to accurately synchronise the movements of the test vehicles. The vehicles were centrally managed using Ground Traffic Control (GTC) software from a base station van.

The results

The movements of the driverless automated vehicles were successfully and repeatedly synchronised with the test vehicle on a single trigger broadcast. Over 11 days, a total of 152 tests were reliably and accurately conducted, including high-speed runs up to 130 km/h and cutting-in manoeuvres with vehicles as close as 1 m.

The future

As the automotive industry increasingly moves from ADAS to automated driving and full vehicle autonomy, the need to control traffic swarms reliably under different test scenarios is becoming more important. The Nardò tests demonstrated that we have the capability and all the tools in place to do this today.


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