In 2024, the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) introduced an update to its Assisted Driving Grading system. In this blog post, Leo Evans, Lead Engineer at AB Dynamics, explores what the update means for the industry, how it aims to enhance consumer understanding, and the impact it will have on the development and assessment of assisted driving systems.

Assessing the performance of assisted driving systems

More and more vehicles are coming to the market with increasingly sophisticated assisted driving systems. The new capabilities of these systems can lead to ambiguity amongst some consumers about the level of assistance they provide. Complaints about some assisted driving systems having misleading names, leading to drivers assuming they are in self-driving or autonomous vehicles when they aren’t are well documented. There are also issues where drivers are opting to disable safety systems due to them being perceived as a nuisance rather than providing assistance.

So how are consumers meant to fairly assess the capabilities and effectiveness of these systems to make informed decisions when purchasing a new vehicle?

Euro NCAP’s new Assisted Driving Grading

Assisted driving refers to level 2 on the SAE driving automation scale. These systems assist the driver to varying degrees but critically the driver remains responsible for all aspects of driving. The more sophisticated level 2 systems combine multiple technologies working in tandem, such as adaptive cruise control and automated lane-keep assist.

Typically, these systems are offered as options and as such aren’t considered in the Euro NCAP star rating. In 2018, Euro NCAP began to study the assisted driving systems available on the market and in 2020 introduced a grading programme based on dedicated test and assessment protocols. The grading system has been updated for 2024 and aims to provide consumers with more information on assisted driving systems and enable them to directly compare their performance with other vehicles on the market.

The updated grading system focuses on two key areas: Assistance Competence, which is the balance between Vehicle Assistance and Driver Engagement, and Safety Backup. The sum of the scores in Assistance Competence and Safety Backup is used in a grading system, similar to the five-star safety rating. Vehicles are currently rated ‘Entry’, ‘Moderate’, ‘Good’ and ‘Very Good’.

The ‘Balance Principal’

The grading system uses what Euro NCAP refer to as the ‘Balance Principal’: The Assistance Competence score is the balance between Vehicle Assistance and Driver Engagement. Driver Engagement includes driver monitoring, driving collaboration, system status and consumer information. Vehicle Assistance includes speed assistance, steering assistance and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) performance.

The higher the level of assistance, the more the driver must be engaged by the system. The Euro NCAP Assisted Driving grading places a greater emphasis on keeping the driver engaged and this will be the limiting factor in its scoring. Currently, it is separate to Euro NCAP’s safety rating, but they will be linked in 2026 and fully integrated by 2029. This means that vehicle manufacturers striving for a 5-star rating will need to apply the same level of effort to assisted driving systems as they pay to other safety systems.

The growing quantity and complexity of test scenarios

The aim of the updated Assisted Driving rating system is ultimately to improve road safety, which is unquestionably a good thing. However, to assess assisted driving systems more thoroughly, Euro NCAP has increased the quantity and complexity of test scenarios, making achieving a rating more costly and time-consuming. The latest protocol introduces 40 new on track tests requiring driving robots and ADAS targets, doubling the test effort.

The new test scenarios include the ACC Car-to-Motorcyclist, Collision Avoidance Car-to-Motorcyclist, Car-to-Bicyclist, Car-to-Pedestrian and the Lane Support system – lane change with overtaking vehicle test scenarios. This focus on VRUs (Vulnerable Road Users) will thoroughly challenge assisted driving sensor systems. Motorcyclists, for example, can be difficult to accurately detect and classify when in close proximity to other vehicles, potentially getting lost, or being detected as a single object.

These new scenarios are also more realistic and consider the reality where vehicles may not be centred in the lane-ahead. For motorcyclists there is also the possibility of lane-sharing, bringing additional challenges in establishing whether the lane-ahead is clear. The new scenarios include test cases ranging from 0-100% overlap, varying the potential hit point and better reflecting the real-world challenges. In order to score well, assisted driving systems need to slow down progressively and predictably in the presence of hazardous events to deliver a safe and human-like response.

Increasing test efficiency

Euro NCAP testing is already a time and cost-consuming process, and these additional tests place a greater workload on manufacturers and test houses. To increase efficiency of testing AB Dynamics has enabled the automation of all of the relevant tests within the 2024 Assisted Driving protocol through the configurable test groups in the latest version of our RC software. It allows users to quickly and simply create all the new tests included in Euro NCAP’s Assisted Driving protocol. AB Dynamics enables the coordination of all of the ‘actors’ in a scenario, including robot-controlled vehicles and ADAS targets, allowing the test protocol to be fully defined and executed through a single ecosystem.

Without robotic control of the vehicle, the cut-in scenarios are particularly difficult to orchestrate. Timing when and how the cut-in vehicle should begin its manoeuvre so that it finishes the lane change at precisely the right time relative to the vehicle under test is very complicated. AB Dynamics’ software automatically calculates the trajectories and synchronises the test vehicle and applicable ADAS targets.

Conclusion

Euro NCAP's update to its Assisted Driving grading system marks a significant step forward in enhancing consumer awareness and understanding of the capabilities and limitations of assisted driving technologies. It provides consumers with a clearer picture of how these systems perform and encourages manufacturers to prioritise driver engagement and safety.

The expansion of test scenarios, although demanding for manufacturers and test houses, ensures that vehicles are evaluated under more realistic conditions, leading to better reflection of their performance in real-world situations. The quantity and complexity of testing is only going to increase as assisted driving systems become more advanced. As a result, improving efficiency is increasingly important to all parties in the test industry.

For more information on how AB Dynamics can support your AD programme, contact us.

Over the past decade, the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) market has undergone a rapid transformation. In 2015, 45% of newly registered vehicles worldwide had zero ADAS functionality, in 2025 this is expected to be just 6%. Vehicles have become increasingly equipped with sophisticated technologies to enhance safety and improve the driving experience, and as a result, the demand for robust and realistic testing methods has surged.

We sat down with Jordan Silberling, General Manager at DRI, AB Dynamics’ California-based sister company and a leading test consultancy specialising in K&C testing, human factors research, ADAS testing and target design. Jordan has been at the forefront of ADAS target development for more than 10 years and helped to create the Soft Car 360, a product that has become synonymous with ADAS testing. Our conversation delves into the challenges of keeping pace with the swift developments in the testing market and highlighting the crucial role realism, robustness and cost-effectiveness plays in creating a successful ADAS target.

Why does the automotive sector need next-gen ADAS targets?

Firstly, as a response to the volume and complexity of ADAS tests, the ADAS market continues to change rapidly. There is a strong desire across the industry to improve vehicle safety and it is clear that advancements in technology are a key enabler to having more effective active safety systems. Vehicles are increasingly being equipped with more sophisticated equipment. They are better than ever at identifying and classifying objects in their environment enabling them to make more informed decisions earlier, which is key to improving safety. As a result, regulatory bodies and consumer bodies are increasing the complexity of tests to challenge these new technologies to continue to drive improved safety. On top of this, vehicle manufacturers want to ensure their systems not only satisfy the testing requirements but also work effectively in the real world too.

Secondly, as an independent test consultancy carrying out hundreds of ADAS tests a year for customers, we experienced first-hand why a new generation of ADAS targets was required. Before we developed our own products, we had to use what was commercially available in the market and we became frustrated with the lack of realism and the damage caused to test vehicles, which was not only costly but also delayed our test programs.

What are your key considerations when designing an ADAS target?

The target must conform to industry standards that dictate particular design elements, such as the dimensions or sensor recognition characteristics. This ensures consistency between targets from different manufactures but restricts the extent of design changes that can be made. They also need to meet certain criteria to be approved for use in official regulatory and consumer testing, such as Euro NCAP.

However, standards conformance is the minimum requirement. Our top priority is to optimise the usability of the target. This ultimately boils down to making the products flexible, durable and cost-effective. We use hard-wearing materials to minimise damage to the target itself and a modular architecture to minimise cost should damage occur.

We also invest heavily in ensuring our targets are as realistic as possible within the constraints of meeting the various standards while not compromising usability. We collaborate with sensor suppliers to better understand how ADAS sensors ‘see’ the world. We also conduct thorough research to help improve the realism of our targets. For example, we have researched pedestrian gait, to ensure the motion of our dummies is representative of humans at a range of speeds. We also commercialised our own specialised scanner device to take radar and lidar measurements of our targets to compare and fine tune them to mimic the signature of the actual objects. It also enables our customers to periodically check that their targets are in conformance with standards.

What about minimising the cost of ADAS testing?

The initial investment in a premium ADAS target might be slightly higher, but the long-term benefits outweigh the costs. Downtime during testing sessions due to target damage or test vehicle damage is a significant factor in overall testing expenses. The last thing you want is your test engineers standing around wasting track time while repairs are being made. As a contracted provider of ADAS testing for the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), we know this from experience.

As a result, not only do our targets focus on realism but we also prioritise the usability and durability to reduce downtime. Features like interchangeable limbs for pedestrian dummies and ensuring all hard points are minimised contribute to ease of use and minimal disruption during testing, ultimately saving valuable time and resources.

In your opinion, how important are realistic targets?

The primary goal of ADAS testing for most manufacturers is essentially to acquire as much high-quality data as possible. The quality of this data is directly linked to the accuracy of the targets used, which is why DRI’s product development focuses on optimising realism. Compromising on the realism of your ADAS target will result in inaccurate test data. Investing in premium targets ensures not just compliance but provides confidence in the data generated and improves the cost-effectiveness of testing.

Additionally, consider that initial pedestrian ADAS testing required only a static target. Later, dynamic testing was introduced into the regulatory and consumer testing but but currently only articulation of the legs is required. Clearly, this is not fully representative of a human’s gait and could impact the way the vehicle classifies the pedestrian, or indeed the pedestrian’s intent. As a result, I believe articulation of the arms and the head will be a requirement in the near future.

Our Soft Pedestrian 360 target features sophisticated articulation of the knee, hip, shoulder and neck. This provides more control over the gait and allows a greater range of movement than is currently required by regulatory and consumer testing requirements. By making our products as realistic as possible we significantly extend their usability and lifespan.

What role does AB Dynamics play in the development of DRI’s ADAS targets?

A realistic ADAS target is part of the complete test environment required for effective testing. We design targets with the AB Dynamics propulsion system in mind and vice-versa. For example, our Soft Pedestrian 360 and AB Dynamics’ LaunchPad Spin together enable matched motion and speed between the dummy’s legs and the platform’s speed. There are other design criteria to consider too, such as ensuring the targets can match the speed capabilities of the platforms and how the combination of products impacts the radar signature. Ultimately, our combined solution ensures that the dummy motion can be integrated into the heart of the scenario, simplifying setup, and guaranteeing realism.

What industry trends are shaping the future development of ADAS targets?

Intent will be key going forward. That is, systems will begin trying to determine the intent of a pedestrian, for example, by reading the person's body language. This is something we do as humans instinctively. If you see somebody stopped at the roadside looking both ways you know they intend to cross the road and you can adjust your driving as a result. AI-trained systems and real-time image and video processing are learning to look for these cues. As the industry evolves, the integration of vision software becomes crucial in classifying and tracking objects. Pedestrian targets will need to be able to mimic these behaviours to thoroughly test these systems.

We achieve this in the Soft Pedestrian 360 through sophisticated limb articulation and its modular architecture, which enables the standard arm to be switched with an arm holding a mobile phone, for example. The LaunchPad Spin, the platform that the target is moved by, provides turn-on-the-spot mobility to replicate sudden changes in direction or intent.

Key Takeaways:

  • Rapid evolution of ADAS market: The ADAS market has transformed rapidly, with a significant growth in vehicles equipped with increasingly advanced ADAS functionality. This is driving a surge in demand for more sophisticated and realistic ADAS targets.
  • Importance of realism in ADAS testing: DRI emphasises the pivotal role of realism in ADAS testing. Premium ADAS targets, such as the Soft Pedestrian 360, offer sophisticated articulation to ensure a realistic testing environment and future-proof testing.
  • Making testing more cost-effective: Prioritising usability and durability minimises downtime during testing, saving valuable time and resources.
  • Emerging trends in ADAS testing: DRI anticipates a shift towards a focus on interpreting human intent in ADAS testing. ADAS targets must emulate these behaviours to effectively test and validate image and video processing systems.

For more information on DRI’s market leading ADAS targets, visit their website here or watch AB Dynamics’ latest webinar “A complete solution for NCAP motorcycle scenario testing”, where Jordan Silberling provides insights into DRI’s Soft Motorcycle 360 target.

As the automotive industry continues to shift towards more advanced driver assistance and automated driving, our Business Director of Track Test Systems, Dr. Andrew Pick explores the future challenges, advancements, and direction of testing methodologies.

How has the landscape of automotive testing changed over the past decade?

Over the last decade, we've witnessed a significant transformation in automotive testing. Driver assistance systems have now filtered down from premium vehicles to becoming a standard feature in every new vehicle thanks to changes in legislation to improve safety. This shift has significantly increased the requirement for ADAS testing and places a higher burden on OEMs, test houses and test equipment. As a result, we have focussed our product development programmes to meet this changing demand and help improve testing efficiency.

What challenges do test engineers face with the rise of driver assistance systems?

While regulatory and consumer testing typically involves only the vehicle under test and a single ADAS target, real-world scenarios are often much more complex. For example, traffic can cause distractions and obscure the driver’s, and sensor’s, view of an impending collision. Even if legislation doesn’t necessitate more complex scenarios in the future, the demand from consumers for a better driving experience will. As such, the testing of driver assistance systems will require an increasingly accurate representation of real-world scenarios. We are actively addressing this by incorporating greater realism into our ADAS targets, introducing additional targets, and enabling more complex scenarios to take place.

How does AB Dynamics envision the future of testing for driver assistance systems?

We are already seeing a shift towards more realistic and complex testing scenarios. For example, Euro NCAP's cut-out scenario, focusing on adaptive cruise control in following traffic, highlights the need to consider the effects of multiple vehicles. On top of this, increasing levels of automated driving also necessitate more complex testing.

How will automated driving impact testing?

ADAS technologies are not infallible, but they don't need to be. As the name suggests, they are there to assist the driver and their purpose is to reduce the probability of collisions resulting from driver errors. However, as we move towards automated driving functions, which assume responsibility for driving tasks, the robustness of these systems becomes absolutely crucial, and testing is a critical part of validating this. Simulation will play an increasing role in subjecting these systems to the almost limitless possibilities that can occur on our roads but ultimately these simulated tests will need to be correlated in the real world. Testing will need to encompass every conceivable scenario, driving an increase in the volume of testing as automation becomes more prevalent.

How will testing requirements for automated driving differ from current practices?

Automated driving functions demand new testing methods and tracks. For example, we anticipate that the current single-run approach to testing will need to be replaced by a more efficient fluid solution. Imagine a swarm of vehicles continuously repositioning to perform a multitude of uninterrupted scenarios over hundreds of kilometres on a looped track. We are developing new communication technologies as well as scenario planning and execution tools to enable this type of testing. It will require proving grounds to develop new facilities to allow continuous running on multi-lane highways to meet this type of testing.

How is AB Dynamics preparing for the future of automated driving testing?

We are ready to embrace the future challenges in automated driving testing. As the industry works towards providing safe and affordable automated driving, we are committed to delivering cutting-edge test solutions. Our focus is on adapting to new testing methodologies, developing innovative products, and contributing to the evolution of the automotive testing landscape.

Key takeaways:

  • Over the last decade, the need for increased ADAS testing has placed a higher burden on OEMs, test houses, and test equipment.
  • Real-world scenarios are often more complex than regulatory and consumer testing, which typically involves only the vehicle under test and a single ADAS target.
  • AB Dynamics envisions a shift towards more realistic and complex testing scenarios. Increasing levels of automated driving will necessitate more complex testing.
  • Automated driving functions demand new testing methods and tracks. AB Dynamics anticipates that the current single-run approach to testing will need to be replaced by a more efficient fluid solution.

For more information on how AB Dynamics can support your ADAS testing programme visit click here or contact us at info@abdynamics.com.

In part one of this blog series, the benefits of using objective test data for the development of complex hybrid braking systems were introduced. In this second part, Allan Johnstone, Principal Project Engineer at AB Dynamics uses a working example to detail the methodology.

When the regenerative brake system on an electrified vehicle reaches its limit of deceleration the mechanical foundation brake needs to be blended in to make up the shortfall. Typically, this happens at a deceleration rate of >3m/s2 or when the vehicle’s speed approaches 0 km/h because the braking torque from the electric motor drops off. In these scenarios, where the systems are being blended, brake feel is critical because often the driver can experience varying levels of deceleration for a given demand. This can be disconcerting and result in the driver needing to modulate the brake pedal input, which can exasperate the issue.

Brake feel analysis using brake robots

For the first time, this type of situation can now be objectively tested using our brake feel analysis solution, which incorporates brake robots fitted to the subject vehicle together with control and analysis software. In the following example, the test vehicle is a popular European EV and the test simulated the vehicle coming to a stop approaching a set of traffic lights. This involved an AB Dynamics RBR 600 model brake robot applying the brake to a specific position and holding the pedal constant, until the vehicle came to rest.

From this type of stop, the contribution of the regenerative and the foundation brake can be separated out and visualised (Figure 1).

Figure 1 Visualisation of EV regenerative and foundation brake blending

In Figure 1, the deceleration begins to drop after four seconds. This is generally viewed as a negative characteristic because the driver is required to compensate for the system’s shortfalls by increasing pedal input.

The rating for this type of stop is a relatively low value, which is expected from this level of deceleration reduction during a stop.

This demonstrates that the vehicle has poor brake feel (5.5 on the brake rating index, see part 1) in this scenario as the deceleration reduces despite a constant brake demand. To compensate, the driver must respond by applying more brake stroke. This type of brake characteristic reduces the driver’s level of confidence in the braking system and might even increase the likelihood of low-speed collisions as the driver underestimates the pedal stroke required to stop in time. This is a common issue with EVs as the regenerative braking torque reduces at lower speeds so the foundation brake needs to compensate. If the system fails to do this adequately it will require input from the driver.

Regenerative braking systems are significantly more complex than traditional setups. The development of these systems is still evolving as the technology advances. To accelerate the development, engineers would benefit greatly from a tool that can test, analyse, and evaluate them accurately and repeatably providing valuable objective data.

The AB Dynamics brake robots that are used as part of the brake feel analysis solution provide a level of control to the brake pedal that is beyond that of any driver, with levels of precision that have not been possible before. The repeatable inputs from the brake robots enable the braking system’s performance to be accurately measured, taking into account a reduction in the battery state of charge or a modification in the blending algorithm.

Our solution bridges the gap between objective and subjective evaluation, allowing the user to quickly understand the subjective impact of the braking system providing a visualisation of each braking characteristic and a subjective score. Importantly, this information provides quantitative information that can be shared within and across teams, providing the basis for objective decision-making.

This information will be critical in ensuring that brake feel and performance are to a level expected by consumers, leading to better satisfaction and reduced warranty issues.

Key takeaways

  • Hybrid braking systems are complex and challenging to optimise, as they depend on multiple variables such as battery state, friction level, and driving conditions.
  • AB Dynamics has developed a solution to objectively test and analyse the brake feel of hybrid vehicles.
  • This solution enables engineers to optimise the brake controller, benchmark competitor systems, and validate brake system performance using objective data and subjective feedback.
  • A working example of the solution applied to a popular European EV, demonstrates how the contribution of the regenerative and the foundation brake can be separated out and visualised, and how the brake feel rating can be calculated and interpreted.

For more information on our brake development solutions click here or to discuss your programme requirements contact us at info@abdynamics.com

Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming more popular as they offer many benefits such as lower emissions and reduced fuel costs. However, one of the key challenges that EV manufacturers face is how to ensure that the brake system of their vehicles provides a consistent and comfortable feel for drivers. This is especially important for hybrid systems that combine mechanical and regenerative braking, which can vary depending on the battery state, the friction level, and the driving conditions. 

In this blog post, Allan Johnstone, Principal Project Engineer at AB Dynamics discusses a novel solution developed by AB Dynamics that enables objective data analysis of the brake feel of hybrid systems and explains how brake robots, control and analysis software, and a brake rating index can help engineers to optimise the brake controller, benchmark competitor systems, and validate brake system performance.

Winning the EV revolution

The winners of the EV revolution will be those manufacturers that remove, or reduce as much as possible, the barriers to adoption. A fundamental challenge for EV manufacturers has been the integration of complex hybrid braking systems, combining the traditional mechanical foundation brake and the electric regenerative system. Ensuring the brake system feels consistent to what consumers have already become accustomed to is a critical barrier to overcome.

The challenge for engineers is to seamlessly blend the two systems together while maximising regenerative braking to recharge the battery to maximise vehicle range. This is most commonly achieved by using a brake-by-wire system, where the pedal characteristic, stroke and load are provided by a pedal simulator element and the braking demand by a stroke sensor. The brake controller blends the two systems to produce the required deceleration requested by the driver.

Commonly in EVs the driver experiences varying levels of deceleration for the same braking demand, making the brake feeling unpredictable at best, or at worst unsafe, which can lead to costly recalls. This is often caused by the variables within the system, such as the state of charge of the battery and the friction level between disc and pad, which changes with temperature, moisture levels and wear.

Traditionally, brake feel has relied solely on the subjective assessment of brake engineers. In order to change this and to prevent poor brake feel it is key to inject thorough objective test data into the development process. This enables engineers to analyse the braking system at all variable points, optimise the brake controller, assess individual components, accurately benchmark competitor systems, and support subjective feedback that can often be misinterpreted.

AB Dynamics has developed what it believes to be the industry’s first objective brake feel assessment solution that uses brake robots fitted to the subject vehicle together with control and analysis software.  Our solution enables the objective testing of a vehicle’s braking system and provides an automated analysis upon completion of the testing. The software uses an algorithm to assess the vehicle’s brake feel based on the SAE brake rating index.

Brake rating index

The data used for the analysis is acquired through our brake robots, which are specifically designed to provide accurate and repeatable applications of the brake pedal. They are widely used by the automotive industry for applications such as testing of ADAS technologies, durability and misuse testing.

The control parameter can be pedal stroke, pedal load, a level of deceleration or a mixture of the three. The result is quantifiable measurements of the vehicle’s brake system across various conditions and vehicle speeds. Our solution automatically assesses a wide range of aspects including stroke effectiveness, load effectiveness, booster reaction and low and high-speed build-up to determine the three key areas that contribute to brake feel: system stiffness, system response and friction characteristics.

AB Dynamics has worked with expert brake system evaluators to convert this objective data into a usable subjective score to provide an instant judgement of overall brake feel. This gives engineers more confidence in assessing and signing off the brake system by knowing that their evaluation is supported by objective data.

Critically, the data produced by our brake feel analysis system also enables the development of an accurate digital model of the braking system for incorporation into vehicle models and virtual validation. The brake feel tool can also be integrated into a Hardware-In-the-Loop (HIL) test rig. This enables the control of the blended braking system to be matured well ahead of a physical prototype vehicle, saving significant time and money.

Key takeaways:

  • Brake feel is a critical factor for EV adoption, as consumers expect a consistent and comfortable braking experience.
  • Hybrid braking systems are complex and challenging to optimise, as they depend on multiple variables such as battery state, friction level, and driving conditions.
  • AB Dynamics has developed a unique solution that enables objective data analysis of the brake feel of hybrid systems, using brake robots, control and analysis software, and brake rating index.

In the next part of this blog series, a working example of AB Dynamics’ assessment tool will be presented. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about our solution and how it can help you improve your EV brake feel, contact us at info@abdynamics.com

In a recent announcement, the US federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed a ground-breaking regulation that could have a transformative impact on road safety. NHTSA is advocating for all new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the United States to be equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems. 

This directive carries immense significance for both the automotive industry and the safety of motorists and pedestrians. In our latest blog post, David Marquette, Business Development Director at AB Dynamics North America, delves into the details of the proposed mandate, its potential implications, and the role of companies in supporting its implementation.

The Power of Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) 

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is a safety technology designed to assist drivers in mitigating or avoiding collisions. By employing sensors, cameras, and sophisticated algorithms, AEB systems detect potential hazards and automatically apply the brakes to prevent or reduce the severity of accidents. This technology has proven to be highly effective in preventing injuries and saving lives by providing an additional layer of protection and response capabilities.

For example, research conducted by the European Commission indicated that vehicles equipped with AEB technology experienced approximately 38% fewer rear-end crashes. Additionally, the same study highlighted that AEB systems with pedestrian detection reduced pedestrian fatalities by approximately 27%.

NHTSA's Proposal

NHTSA's primary mission is to ensure road safety by establishing and enforcing vehicle performance standards and regulations. They work to improve vehicle and road safety, reduce accidents, and promote innovations in transportation technologies. NHTSA also plays a crucial role in shaping policies and initiatives aimed at protecting motorists and pedestrians across the US. Its latest proposal to make AEB systems mandatory in all new passenger cars and light trucks is a significant step towards enhancing road safety.

NHTSA estimates the technology could reduce injuries by at least 24,000 annually and save over 360 lives per year; however, it's important to note that this appears to be a conservative estimate based on over 70,000 car pedestrian accidents annually in the US where 9% result in death. The proposal will now go through the process of consultation and review. This allows for discussions among stakeholders to address concerns, fine-tune regulations and importantly allows the needed time for the automotive industry to ensure their vehicles and technology are ready for the forth coming rule making.

Lessons from the EU

The European Union (EU) has already taken strides in implementing AEB technology. Since 2022, AEB has been mandatory on all new model passenger vehicles introduced in the EU and by 2024, every new car sold in the EU will need to be fitted with this technology. This serves as a valuable precedent, demonstrating the successful integration of AEB systems and their positive impact on road safety. The EU's experience can provide insights and best practices for the US as it moves towards implementing similar regulations.

Supporting implementation

Companies like AB Dynamics currently play a vital role in supporting the implementation of AEB systems and ensuring their effectiveness. We have developed advanced testing, simulation, and validation solutions that enable automakers to develop and test the performance of AEB systems. For example, the Guided Soft Target (GST) system, consisting of the GST platform and Soft Car 360, is one of the core technologies used to evaluate and enhance the capabilities of AEB systems. By simulating real-world scenarios and providing a controlled testing environment, these technologies enable automakers to validate the functionality, reliability, and safety of AEB systems before they are deployed in vehicles.

Key takeaways 

NHTSA's proposed regulation mandating automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems in all new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the US is a significant stride towards a safer future on the roads.

  • By leveraging the power of safety technologies, such as AEB, there is opportunity to prevent accidents, mitigate the impact of collisions, and save lives.
  • Implementation may take time due to the consultation and review processes; however, lessons from the EU's successful AEB adoption can guide the US on its journey.
  • Companies like AB Dynamics, with our testing, simulation, and validation solutions, will continue to play a crucial role in supporting the automotive industry in integrating and optimising AEB systems.
  • NHTSA estimates AEB technology could reduce injuries by at least 24,000 annually and save over 360 lives per year, but data suggests this is a conservative number.

For more information on how AB Dynamics can support your AEB systems testing requirements, contact us at info@abdynamics.com  

This year AB Dynamics and its sister company Dynamic Research Inc. (DRI) celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first sale of the Guided Soft Target (GST) surrogate vehicle target system. In this blog, Joseph Kelly, Chief Engineer at DRI, explains how the GST has set the global standard for 3D vehicle targets and has helped to revolutionise the testing and development of lifesaving ADAS technologies.

The GST test system consists of the Soft Car 360, an impactable dummy vehicle target attached to a low-profile robotic platform designed to be run over by vehicles. In this article, we will be looking at the origins of the GST and the industry trends that have shaped its design.

The history of the GST

The GST’s story starts in 2007 when crash avoidance technologies, such as Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), were still in their infancy and so too were the systems to test them. A variety of targets, ranging from simple radar reflectors to partial vehicle representations (both static and dynamic), were developed to aid in the evaluation of rear end collision avoidance and mitigation systems, but these had limitations restricting approach speeds and angles, as well as lateral offsets. Additionally, some of the dynamic systems required the presence of other vehicles to tow the targets, or suspend them from above, which could sometimes adversely affect the performance of the vehicles under test.

It was at this time that DRI collaborated with NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) on the ACAT (Advanced Crash Avoidance Technologies) project, together with Honda. The project aimed to develop practical methods for evaluating the effectiveness of emerging ADAS technologies. A key phase of the project was to establish the test requirements in order to conduct full-scale testing of the technologies.

The project identified three key vehicle-to-vehicle scenarios that would need to be tested, which were head on, rear end and crossing paths. 

These tests necessitated a dynamic solution that was strikeable from multiple angles that:

  • Did not damage the vehicle during test,
  • Did not present a safety risk to test personnel,
  • Was easily reconfigurable and enabled close coordination of vehicles with regard to conflict conditions such as closing speed and angle, and
  • Could easily be reset after impact for further testing.

The solution: the GST system. Through this project, DRI became fundamental in finding ways to help the industry test and develop first-generation collision avoidance systems that have since been developed into today’s technologies.

The initial development of what would become recognisable as the GST system used a simple vehicle target constructed from foam, fitted to a first-generation version of the GST platform, which was affectionately known internally as the ‘Turtle’. It was the first self-propelled dummy vehicle target that could be safely run over, providing unrivalled testing flexibility. Designed initially for detection by lidar, the system’s visual representation of a vehicle and its radar reflectivity were less relevant. The entire system was designed and manufactured in-house at DRI, including the platform’s navigation and control system.

DRI recognised that the appearance and durability of the target needed to be improved to be useful to manufacturers using camera and radar systems and this formed the core development path for the following few years. A project with IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) in 2011 and feedback from other industry experts identified a demand for stable radar reflectivity, which resulted in the introduction of a new reflective material for the Soft Car 360. Other developments included enclosing the foam skins in vinyl fabric “pillowcases”, which allowed the application of photorealistic graphics and increased durability and realism. The result was a first-generation version of the Soft Car 360 that we know and recognise today.

DRI’s involvement in these industry projects led to the development of equipment that is now in use globally to thoroughly test ADAS technologies. Worldwide adoption of standardised tests that rely on this equipment is helping to provide safety ratings of new vehicles to educate consumers and improve road safety.

In 2012 DRI developed what became the first commercially available GST that incorporated all the various features to make it representative to a variety of sensor systems. Later that year, DRI began its partnership with AB Dynamics to further develop the product and the first unit was delivered to an Asian OEM in 2013.

This partnership allowed customers to experience AB Dynamics’ tried and tested control hardware and software from the steering and pedal robots in a driverless platform. It also allowed for seamless synchronisation between robots thanks to AB Dynamics’ patented Synchro software.

In 2014, DRI developed the second generation GST in collaboration with NHTSA. This project involved reducing the radar reflectivity of the platform and increasing the acceleration and top speed, to cater for the growing variety of tests being carried out. There was also a heavy-duty version developed for trucks. In 2018, AB Dynamics introduced the MK2 GST platform, bringing improvements to the market, such as a lower overall profile, 100 km/h top speed and improved path following.

The collaboration between AB Dynamics and DRI proved to be a great success resulting in the GST’s approval for use by Euro NCAP and NHTSA as its Global Vehicle Target in 2018. The relationship further strengthened when DRI joined the AB Dynamics group through an acquisition in 2019.

In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, AB Dynamics introduced the GST 120, the highest top speed GVT on the market. This was an incredible engineering achievement as although a 20 km/h increase in speed doesn’t seem much, an astounding 70% increase in power is required. Alongside its increased top speed, an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) was also introduced, which later became standard on all GST products.

Since its initial introduction the GST has been continually developed, particularly to improve its realism in line with the increasing sophistication of ADAS perception and classification technologies, and the Soft Car 360 is currently in its seventh revision.

Industry drivers and challenges

When the GST was first introduced ten years ago, advanced crash avoidance technologies were usually found on higher-end luxury vehicles. Thanks, in part, to the ACAT projects these technologies were becoming more mainstream and Volvo was the first OEM to fit AEB as standard on all new models in 2014. The continued development of these technologies and an increased focus on safety regulations has driven the mass adoption of collision avoidance and mitigation systems.

One of the most used sensor systems is radar. It scans the world very efficiently but often lacks definition and is limited in providing data on verticality, which would be useful in correctly classifying objects. Increasing the resolution of radar systems is a key area for development for OEMs. The GST system has been future-proofed in this respect as the GST platform has been designed to minimise radar reflectivity, whilst the Soft Car 360 has been optimised from top to bottom to reflect radar realistically.

Although very efficient in the way it transmits and receives data, radar does have its limitations. As a result, OEMs are now moving towards sensor fusion, combining a variety of sensors to more accurately perceive the world ahead. For example, a camera and radar system sense the world in disparate but complementary ways leading to a much better perception system than would be possible from a single type of sensor.

As these technologies have matured and adoption has increased, the challenge for the industry has shifted from simply avoiding and mitigating a potential crash to them being more usable on the road and not issuing false positives. This is critical in translating these technologies into real world road safety improvements.

To achieve this the vehicle must correctly discern what it can and can’t ‘drive into’. A good example of this problem are steel trench plates, used for covering up holes or trenches in the road during road works. They are large and reflective to a radar system, just like a car, so they could be mistakenly perceived as a parked car, as a result, vehicles could apply full braking as they approach. This is where a combination of sensor systems should be able to correctly identify the object and make the correct decision to not intervene.

The future of the GST

These industry trends have driven the development path of the GST system. The Soft Car 360 has been developed in collaboration with industry partners, including sensor manufacturers and OEMs, through workshops coordinated by Euro NCAP, NHTSA, and IIHS. This collaboration has been critical in improving the realism of the target and understanding how it is perceived by the many different sensor technologies used on a vehicle.

Additionally, the quantity and complexity of ADAS testing is expected to continue to grow exponentially and so too are the tools used to test these systems. The hatchback version of the GST has been approved for use in NCAP tests since 2018 but there is a range of vehicle targets available, including a micro, sedan and estate version. This range will continue to expand to provide customers with the variety required to thoroughly test a vehicle’s sensor system.

One of the next big steps in active collision avoidance technologies is likely to come from increased connectivity. The ability for a vehicle to communicate with infrastructure and other vehicles around it increases awareness of potential dangers and the time to react. The integration of connectivity, or V2X (Vehicle-to-Everything), will significantly impact the testing landscape. AB Dynamics is participating in the SECUR project (Safety Enhancement through Connected Users on the Road), which aims to create a coherent proposal for V2X testing and assessment protocols for Euro NCAP. AB Dynamics’ key input into the project is to help define a specification for connected targets to support V2X testing in the future.

The GST timeline:

  • 2007 – DRI starts collaboration with Honda and NHTSA on the Advanced Crash Avoidance Technologies (ACAT) project.
  • 2008 – DRI develops the Low-Profile Robotic Vehicle (LPRV) ‘Turtle’, an early version of what would become the GST platform, and a simple Soft Car 360.
  • 2010 – DRI continues development of the Soft Car 360, integrating a multi-panel construction design.
  • 2012 – DRI signs collaborative agreement with AB Dynamics.
  • 2013 – First GST delivered to customer.
  • 2014-2015 – The second generation GST is developed for NHTSA, including heavy duty truck compatibility. 
  • 2018 – The GST is approved as the official Global Vehicle Target (GVT) by NHTSA, IIHS and Euro NCAP. The GST MK2 platform introduced with various improvements, higher top speed (100 km/h) and lower overall height.
  • 2019 – DRI acquired by AB Dynamics.
  • 2020 – AB Dynamics becomes a partner in the SECUR project featuring the GST system. The GST 120 introduced, the fastest GVT in the market, with a top speed limited to 120 km/h. Also introducing improved path following at high speeds as well as ABS to the GST line up.
  • 2022 – GST 120 and Soft Car 360 were officially approved by Euro NCAP under Technical Bulletin 29.
  • 2023 – It is the ten-year anniversary of the delivery of the first GST. GST and V2X demonstration for the SECUR project. 

For more information on the GST test system or to arrange a demo, contact us at info@abdynamics.com

As the world becomes more and more reliant on commercial vehicles to move goods and materials, truck safety has become an increasingly important topic. In recent years, the development and implementation of ADAS have shown great promise in improving truck safety. In this blog post, Andrew Pick, Business Director of Track Test Systems at AB Dynamics, explores the impact of ADAS on truck safety and how Euro NCAP’s 2023 Safer Trucks initiative will impact the heavy vehicle sector. 

Why is Euro NCAP focussing on truck safety?

Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme) is an independent organisation established to evaluate the safety performance of new cars sold in Europe. The organisation assigns a rating, ranging from one to five stars to each car based on its active and passive safety performance. These ratings help consumers make informed decisions when purchasing a new car. The combination of consumer demand for five-star rated vehicles and progressively more challenging Euro NCAP test protocols has driven a steady advancement in underlying ADAS capability.

Euro NCAP has traditionally focused on testing and rating the safety of passenger cars, but in recent years, the organisation has recognised the need to address truck safety. This is due to a combination of factors, including an increase in the number of commercial vehicles on the road and also, when they occur, the severity of the accidents involving heavy trucks.

To address this issue, Euro NCAP published the Safer Trucks report in April 2023, its latest initiative aimed at improving the safety of heavy commercial vehicles. The report outlines Euro NCAP's plans to introduce a new safety rating scheme for trucks, with scenarios tailored to city and highway environments. Similar to Euro NCAP’s car protocols the proposed rating system will cover four phases, safe driving, crash avoidance, crash protection and post-crash safety.

The crash avoidance category will cover systems like autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and those systems that can protect vulnerable road users like blind spot detection. The crash protection category will include enhanced occupant protection but importantly also considers crash compatibility. As most casualties from accidents with trucks are outside the vehicle, ensuring crash compatibility with cars and pedestrians has the potential to offer real safety benefits.

By contrasting and rating the safety features that are currently available in commercial vehicles, as well as areas for improvement, Euro NCAP hopes to encourage the wider adoption of safety technologies and ultimately, improve road safety for all road users.

How do ADAS systems improve truck safety?

ADAS is a broad term used to describe a variety of systems that assist drivers in the operation of their vehicles. These systems use a variety of sensors and cameras to monitor the road and the vehicle's surroundings and can provide drivers with warnings and other assistance to help them avoid accidents. ADAS systems can improve truck safety in several ways:

  • Collision Mitigation: ADAS systems can use radar and camera technology to detect potential collisions and warn the driver, or even take control of the vehicle to avoid a collision.
  • Blind Spot Detection: Blind spot detection systems use sensors to detect when a vehicle or cyclist is in the truck's blind spot and warn the driver.
  • Lane Departure Warning: Lane departure warning systems use cameras to detect when the truck is drifting out of its lane and warn the driver.
  • Automatic Emergency Braking: Automatic emergency braking systems use radar and cameras to detect potential collisions and automatically apply the brakes if the driver does not respond in time.

What are the benefits of using ADAS systems in trucks?

A key benefit to using ADAS systems in trucks is improved safety; both for the drivers of the trucks, but just as importantly for other road users. ADAS systems can help prevent accidents by detecting potential collisions and warning drivers or taking control of the vehicle to avoid a collision.

One of the first examples of ADAS systems in trucks was the mandatory fitment of Advanced Emergency Braking Systems (AEBS) – which was introduced into all new types of N2 and N3 category vehicles through UN ECE Regulation 131 in 2013. These systems prevent (or lessen) accidents between trucks and other road users by drastically reducing the speed of the truck when a stationary or slow-moving vehicle is detected in its path.

What does this mean for future Truck ADAS testing programmes?

The Euro NCAP Safer Trucks report highlights the potential benefit of improved ADAS systems in trucks. ADAS systems have become more prevalent in cars thanks to consumer testing. By involving the right stakeholders Euro NCAP want to achieve the same in trucks.

As a result, truck ADAS testing programmes will likely become more challenging and extensive, with a greater focus on assessing the effectiveness of these systems in real-world scenarios that would otherwise result in the most serious accidents. Manufacturers will also be under pressure to develop and refine their ADAS systems to meet the higher standards set by Euro NCAP. 

Euro NCAP has had a significant impact on the car industry by promoting and improving vehicle safety standards. Consequently, ADAS testing technologies have become more sophisticated, realistic, and robust. Truck manufacturers and operators alike, can now benefit from these proven ADAS testing technologies, especially those that have been developed with system robustness in mind. At AB Dynamics, we have been at the forefront of developing ADAS testing technologies and have a range of driverless robots, VRU targets and platforms that are already heavy vehicle ready. As a result, truck manufacturers can now access tried and tested ADAS testing solutions, which can help improve the safety of their vehicles and ensure they comply with new test and regulatory standards.

Key takeaways

Truck safety is becoming a more prevalent issue and Euro NCAP’s new truck safety rating scheme is likely to drive innovation in the development of truck ADAS technologies and promote the fitment of these safety features across the industry. Euro NCAP has played a vital role in the passenger car industry by promoting and improving vehicle safety standards, and we suspect that with this shift of focus towards improving truck safety, there’s potential for real change to happen within the heavy vehicle sector. Euro NCAP’s ratings have become an important benchmark for car manufacturers looking to showcase their safety credentials. As a result, car manufacturers have been motivated to improve the safety performance of their vehicles, leading to significant advancements in safety technologies and features over the years.

Euro NCAP has highlighted collision avoidance technology as a key part of their vision zero goal. ADAS has the potential to greatly improve truck safety and reduce the number of accidents on our roads. These systems can provide drivers with warnings of impending dangers and other assistance to help them avoid collisions. As the world continues to rely on trucks to move goods and materials, it is important that the sector continues to develop and implement these systems to ensure roads are safer for all.

To discuss how AB Dynamics can support your ADAS testing requirements, contact us at info@abdynamics.com or click here to learn more about our solutions for heavy vehicle testing.

With the interest in connectivity and particularly Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technology increasing in the automotive industry, Andrew Pick, Business Director of Track Test Systems at AB Dynamics, explains what the technology is, how it would work in practice and how it could significantly improve road safety.  

What is V2X technology and how is it benefiting the automotive industry? 

In essence, V2X technology enables everything on our roads to communicate together. The aim is to create a collaborative and cooperative capability that enables safety messages to be shared amongst users. It is split up into three different levels; to give information, to increase awareness and to provide warnings. 

The key benefit is to improve road safety. By providing vehicles and drivers with more information about their surroundings, they should be more aware of potential hazards ahead and be able to act accordingly.  

This technology is seen as an enabler for autonomous vehicles in the future. A lot of what we do as humans when driving is collaborate with other drivers, such as a subtle wave of the hand to allow another car through. Autonomous vehicles need to be able to do this too and V2X is the language they will speak. Except there will be much more information exchanged than could ever be possible with hand signals. For example, you may communicate a hazard ahead to an oncoming driver by flashing your lights. With V2X, the type of hazard and its exact location will be communicated to all nearby vehicles. 

How will V2X work in practice? 

V2X technology is split up into different elements. For example, Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) and Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V), but also connectivity to other road users. 

We are seeing V2V being adopted first as the technology can be integrated relatively easily and rolled out in new vehicle models. For vulnerable road users (VRU) implementation might be based on mobile phone technology and could also be easily integrated into micro-mobility solutions, such as bicycles and electric scooters. Infrastructure, such as traffic lights and variable speed limits, is likely to take more time as these lifecycles are longer and so will need to be upgraded or replaced specifically. In time though, as the network increases, the bigger and more powerful it becomes. 

These elements will be continually broadcasting a cooperative awareness message (CAM) or a decentralised environmental notification message (DENM). The CAM provides information such as speed, position and heading of other vehicles. The DENM communicates information on accidents or other hazards on the road. 

What are the current limitations of the technology? 

As with any new technology, consumer acceptance is key to success. A vehicle equipped with V2X will be receiving a huge amount of data. A driver doesn’t want to be made aware of every single vehicle nearby, only the safety critical information. Deciding what information to share with the driver and how will be critical. 

The biggest question for the industry is what “language” should be used. For it to work effectively it must be universal across the elements. Currently, there are two competing standards. ITS-G5 is an ad hoc Wi-Fi, which has already been adopted by Volkswagen and can be found on the latest Golf and all its ID models. The alternative is cellular V2X, or C-V2X, which essentially piggybacks off the existing mobile phone networks, such as 4G and 5G. This choice is a critical crossroad for the industry as manufacturers won’t want to back the wrong horse. 

The greatest limitation of the technology though is adoption. For it to have a powerful effect it needs to be on as many vehicles as possible, as well as being built into the surrounding infrastructure. Although legislation is effective by mandating the technology the time scales are long. Consumer tests provide a powerful alternative and Euro NCAP has identified V2X technology as a key safety enabler in its recent roadmap for 2030. This provides great motivation for vehicle manufacturers to adopt the technology more widely. 

How quickly are we likely to see V2X technology integrated into Euro NCAP testing? 

We don’t know the answer yet. But it is anticipated that Euro NCAP will include a level of V2X in the next protocol update, which is due in 2026. Euro NCAP has stated that it intends to accommodate all forms of connectivity by evaluating safety functions in a technology-neutral way. This essentially means these communications systems will form part of the Euro NCAP test scenarios, regardless of which “language” is used. 

They have highlighted a staged rollout of the technology testing. The first is improving driver awareness using V2X by giving warnings to drivers of potential hazards. This is relatively quite easy to test as it is essentially an advanced level of the safety assist features that Euro NCAP currently use, such as speed assist. 

The second phase is the use of V2X to proactively avoid collisions, perhaps where there are obstructions out of sight of conventional ADAS sensors. V2X could be used to track that object throughout the test scenario. Again, this wouldn’t be a big challenge as it would complement scenarios that Euro NCAP is already testing.  

For example, imagine a scenario where a vehicle operating under assisted driving on a highway is suddenly presented with a stationary vehicle in the lane ahead that was obscured by a lead vehicle, which suddenly cuts out into the adjacent lane. Currently, the assisted vehicle would rely on an AEB (Automatic Emergency Braking) system to prevent a collision. By the very nature of how the system works this would involve a last-minute emergency manoeuvre, which is uncomfortable and unsettling for the vehicle’s passengers and other traffic. With V2X, the assisted vehicle would be forewarned of the hazard and would slow down in a controlled and timely manner.  

By providing the vehicle with information earlier it moves the necessary action further down the road to give the vehicle much more time to react. This technology has the potential to improve road safety by significantly reducing the number of collisions. 

How will AB Dynamics be helping the industry test the technology and these new test scenarios? 

If you want to thoroughly test the technology, it needs to be done in a controlled and repeatable way on a proving ground. As a result, we are adding connectivity to our range of ADAS test platforms. This allows us to augment connectivity during tests so that connected targets and test objects broadcast the same digital signature as a real vehicle would on the public road. 

To effectively test connectivity, it needs to be built into the test scenarios. In the same way that we currently define the path and speed of the vehicle, we will also need to define the messages the vehicle broadcasts. To enable this, we have integrated connected hardware to our products which communicate the CAM and DENM information of our targets and the navigation system directly. This is linked to the test scenario, via our software, so we can define the message and the trigger point on demand. We can also log the V2X messages that are being broadcast by other vehicles and the test objects. 

We have also developed the connectivity solution to be retrofittable to existing products and to support both the ITS-G5 and C-V2X communication technologies. In fact, the ITS-G5 technology is very similar to what we use on the proving ground already to communicate between the test vehicles and ADAS targets. So, we already have a lot of experience with this technology. 

This is a new capability for us. We have already started demonstrating it as part of one of the work packages in the SECUR (Safety Enhancement through Connected Users on the Road) project

Can you tell me more about the SECUR project? What is the objective? 

The SECUR project, coordinated by UTAC, aims to create a coherent proposal for V2X testing and assessment protocols for Euro NCAP. It brings together a consortium of 20 international stakeholders from the entire automotive and V2X ecosystem, who will share knowledge and collaborate through workshops and working groups. Together with AB Dynamics, the partners include Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota, Denso, Bosch and Continental. Our key input into the project is to help define a specification for connected targets to support this testing in the future. 

To learn more about the SECUR project, visit https://www.utac.com/documents

Automotive test systems supplier AB Dynamics claims the recent growth in wireless data transfer from the increasing use of driverless traffic in automotive testing is causing significant issues for the industry.

Increasingly complex test scenarios require the use of driverless vehicles and other moving elements, such as ADAS targets, which must all be in constant communication with each other. This increase in data transfer can result in interference and signal dropout, triggering fail-safe architectures to stop the test, meaning that test scenarios have to be reset and repeated.

Because ‘swarm testing’ – where five or more vehicles are being tested at any one time – is now commonplace, the chances of interference increase. And, with more devices using wi-fi, the number of costly stoppages during testing is likely to continue on an upward curve without using more robust telemetry solutions.

The company feels that these challenges are set to become more acute with the proliferation of autonomous vehicles and the expansion of ADAS testing. For example, since 2014, the number of ADAS test scenarios included in the Euro NCAP assessment has increased by 650%.

Jeremy Ash, sales director at AB Dynamics, explained, “In 2007 we supplied our first driverless test system to Groupe Renault, which enabled them to conduct durability or dangerous tests with a single vehicle without the need for a driver.

“Today, the majority of our customers have a significant number of driving robots, GSTs (guided soft targets) and LaunchPads, to carry out the required testing for modern vehicles. All of these are continuously transmitting data during a test. This level of activity creates interference and disrupted communication between vehicles and base. When this occurs, even for just one second, we stop the test for safety reasons.”

To combat this problem, the company has developed TrackFi PowerMesh, a communications system specifically designed for automotive testing. It claims the dual-band IP radio offers dependable data transfer from vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-base through secure mesh networks, which is more reliable than standard WLAN technology.

Renault is already using the system for its testing programs, as Grégory Lesueur, ADAS equipment coordinator at Groupe Renault, highlighted, “TrackFi PowerMesh has delivered us considerable benefits. We have found it very efficient to use and have experienced enhanced communication between vehicles and ADAS targets. It enables us to achieve so much more in our track testing program because downtime is significantly reduced.”

The system operates across two frequency bands, dynamically switching between 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz RF transceivers, ensuring optimum connectivity between multiple vehicles in a test scenario and secure transfer of high throughput data. It is suitable for use on vehicles in conjunction with AB Dynamics’ ADAS platforms or as static nodes to mount trackside.

“We have designed the latest generation radio to provide a high level of modularity, ensuring that it is suitable for as wide a range of test scenarios as possible,” added Ash. “For example, the four omni-directional antennas are foldable, making it ideal for ADAS testing where collision with a guided soft target could otherwise cause damage. Static nodes can also be hardwired to a power supply for permanent use or used with portable battery packs for up to 24 hours between charges for flexibility of testing. The entire system can be easily set up or transferred between vehicles, targets or locations." 

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