Javier Gutiérrez introduces the Applus+ IDIADA Spain Virtual Proving Ground


    Javier is part of the team at the Vehicle Dynamics Simulation department. His first contact with IDIADA Spain’s Virtual Proving Ground (ISVPG) was as a user of the tracks, when these were modelled for the first time in 2012 and he was part of an internal research and development project. Since 2016, he has been leading the development activities related to the generation and commercialisation of the data.

    What is the IDIADA Spain Virtual Proving Ground?

    ISVPG is mainly the virtual representation (digital twin) of the physical proving grounds (PG) at L’Albornar’s facilities in Spain. The core idea is to have a source of information (data mainly captured from scanning activities but it can also be generated from design drawings) to help internal and external users to simulate or use the road and track information for their different virtual and digital activities.

    The first scanning campaign was initially generated in 2012 at the IDIADA Division, although VPG data needs to be updated synchronously with the modifications (due to rebuilds or ageing of the PG). As a result, we carry out periodic re-scanning and modelling of the tracks to ensure reliable and up-to-date information for the client’s activities.

    The impetus to start virtualising the proving ground was primarily because of a global requirement among vehicle-simulation experts to use the same tracks in real tests as in their simulations. Previously, from a computational perspective, it was not worth running comfort and durability simulations on realistic and accurate roads.

    In 2021, the management team at the IDIADA Division decided to include activities related to Virtual Proving Ground (VPG) within the newly created Digital Business department in an effort to increase its transversal efficiency for the whole company, as well as being more linked with all the other digital related activities.

    Which services does the Virtual Proving Ground provide?

    The IDIADA Division’s Virtual Proving Ground provides a wide new range of testing possibilities.

    • ISVPG reproduces the micro- and macroscopic unevenness and irregularities of real surfaces, supporting correlation activities by using an adequate representation of the road input data.
    • The VPG adds confidence in the simulation and enhances the potential of the virtual development of components, control systems and full vehicles.
    • These virtual roads can be used from very early stages of the vehicle-development process to identify and solve further problems. This saves financial costs and reduces the time associated with on-road and track-testing sessions and in design processes.

    What are the benefits offered with the virtual simulator?

    The integration of IDIADA Spain Virtual Proving Ground (ISVPG) with testing and simulation software has strengthened the activities for virtual development and validation, offering new virtual scenarios for various applications such as comfort/durability/tyre development simulations, driving simulator activities, and ADAS and Autonomous Driving system development.

    ISVPG also supports development and maintenance activities by having the most significant surfaces at the IDIADA Division’s proving ground in Spain scanned in high resolution.

    Which are the main applications of ISVPG?

    • Comfort and ride analysis using 3D-mesh representations of the roads.
    • Active system development and test planning.
    • Integration into driver-in-the-loop (DIL real-time systems) using proprietary driving simulator formats which represent the complete 3D environment, including the road surface.
    • ADAS, autonomous driving system development and validation using high-definition maps that introduce the logics of driving, main road geometries, road intersections, etc.
    • Tyre development by using very detailed representation of small road sections, such as micro-structural information - up to 60 micrometres as contact patch trajectories.

    What are the future plans for ISVPG?

    Firstly, we will continue to expand the user-base for the different applications that we have developed over the years, based on the benefits that ISVPG creates for the limited investment required to perfectly complement testing activities.

    Secondly, increase the amount and the quality of data available and their formats, so increasingly more applications can be performed in the virtual world. This also includes the different tracks the Division manages around the world.

    And finally, we are looking for scalability. We are currently researching which strategies to follow in order to change our users’ thinking from a Virtual Proving Ground mindset to a Digital Environments (DE) one; an approach where not only can we deploy the data from the IDIADA Division’s tracks and roads and the 3D-environment data, but also we can open the possibilities of any kind of data that can reproduce a simulation scenario for all kinds of engineering performances: temperatures, signalling, vibrations, inclinations, 2D profiles of long distances, etc. At the same time, this includes the search for new partners who can collaborate and support our work to measure and/or acquire this data from road surfaces around the world.

    Which other innovation projects related to the ISVPG is the Division working on?

    The following list includes some collaboration projects where our Virtual Proving Ground background is having an impact and supports the development of other wider services:

    • Seeking out new commercialisation partners and new business models (e.g. pay-per-use vs. standard time-based lease, use of existing road databases, etc.).
    • Developing simulation scenarios for ADAS and AV.
    • Developing Vehicle-in-the-Loop (ViL) services.
    • Developing our own 3D-Environment models from design drawings or standards.
    • Researching alternative methods to design durability cycles based on virtual roads.
    • Searching and organising the available DE data at the Division that could be useful for other users´ simulation portfolios.

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