Digital Twins Power Rapid Deployment in Software-Defined Vehicles
October 26, 2023
Jamey J. Cates P.E.
CTO North America
Clocking the required billion miles for autonomous vehicle testing is not just daunting; it's financially unsustainable. The automotive industry is looking to resolve the need for extensive testing without expensive real-unit lab testing using digital twins, a transformative technology that's redefining efficiency across sectors.
In manufacturing, digital twins streamline assembly lines. In aerospace, they simulate real-world flight conditions to refine aircraft design. In healthcare, they're revolutionizing personalized medicine by modeling intricate human physiology.
For Software-Defined Vehicles (SDVs), digital twins offer a powerful platform for quickturn deployment, slashing testing time, complexity and financial investments. While SDVs will still drive on the road for final validation, the lion's share of testing can now take place in the virtual world.
From Road Lab to Math Modeling: The Evolution of Vehicle Testing
Gone are the days when OEMs relied solely on fleets of test vehicles and Hardware in the Loop (HIL) systems like ETAS LABCAR. These traditional methods, while effective, are increasingly seen as cumbersome and resource-intensive.
Today, the focus has shifted towards mathematical modeling, allowing for the bulk of testing to be conducted virtually. This approach is not just a convenience; it's a necessity. The complexity of modern automotive systems, laden with heterogeneous embedded systems running on multiple operating systems, demands a more agile and iterative development process. Mathematical modeling enables this, reducing the need for physical prototypes and lab equipment, and allowing for quick evaluation of multiple design variations.
Digital Twinning: The Next Frontier in Rapid Lifecycle Management
The advent of Software-Defined Vehicles (SDVs) has opened up new avenues for testing, particularly with the cloud coming into play. But it's not just about offloading tasks to remote servers; it's about leveraging the extra processing capacity within the vehicle itself.
Digital twins enable real-time virtual testing, transforming beta tests from live to virtual. This shift allows for exhaustive testing scenarios without compromising the safety of the actual vehicle—whether it's still on the drawing board, on the production line, or already on the road. The ability to take real-world data and validate it against a digital twin means we can fine-tune complex systems while maintaining the highest levels of safety and efficiency.
Leveraging Digital Twins for Rapid Deployment
In the automotive landscape, the stakes are high and the margins for error are low. Digital twins serve as a powerful tool for pre-deployment validation, offering a virtual sandbox to rigorously test and validate software updates before they hit the road.
The continuous ability to test software updates in a digital twin environment not only expedites the deployment process but also enhances product quality. For example, a digital twin can validate a new over-the-air software update, ensuring it's both robust and efficient before deploying it to actual SDVs. This level of pre-validation minimizes risks and leads to a more streamlined and reliable deployment process.
Looking Ahead: The Future of Vehicle Testing with Digital Twins
As technology evolves, so too will the capabilities of digital twins. The integration of advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) will further refine the role of digital twins in the automotive industry.
For Software-Defined Vehicles (SDVs), the future impact of digital twins is significant. These virtual replicas will streamline development cycles, cutting both costs and time-to-market. The rich data digital twins provide will lead to enhanced safety and security as well as enabling a more personalized driver experience.