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Improved headlight simulation enables latest automotive lighting technologies to be developed in a virtual environment

Improved headlight simulation enables latest automotive lighting technologies to be developed in a virtual environment

UK simulation software specialist rfpro now offers state-of-the-art light intensity modelling within its driving simulation environment. The new feature brings unprecedented simulation accuracy to headlight modelling, with accurate definition of individual light intensities to within one degree of resolution in every direction. It will help Tier 1 suppliers accelerate headlamp development and oems improve the simulation of their vehicles under low light conditions, such as night driving.

Whereas previous lighting models comprised a simple inner and outer cone of light, the new system uses IES profiles to define the light in all directions. IES, the Illuminating Engineering Society, is the accredited body for lighting standards.

“The latest vehicle headlight technology incorporates LED arrays that generate a very large number of different beam shapes to provide better visibility without dazzling oncoming traffic,” explains Josh Wreford, automotive sales manager, rfpro. “Perfecting this for a new vehicle application through real world testing is expensive, not reproduceable, time-consuming and often conducted in unsociable hours. Simulation with rfpro software enables both the hardware design and the control strategy to be optimized in a safe and controlled environment without the risks and uncertainties of prolonged night testing. The only physical testing required is for final validation of the product.”

Vehicles with more conventional headlights can also benefit from the improved fidelity of the new software, especially avs or vehicles with ADAS, according to Wreford. “Some of the most high profile safety concerns regarding autonomous systems have centred on errors in sensor or camera perception under artificial lighting,” he says. “Improving the fidelity of the light levels at every point in the modelling scenario means the sensor systems can be exercised more thoroughly and the virtual environment can be used more effectively to replace physical testing.”

The combination of rfpro’s existing high fidelity road surface modelling, Terrain Server, and lighting defined by IES profiles, creates a uniquely accurate virtual environment for the modelling of lighting systems and evaluating the perception of sensors. The dynamic motions of the vehicle in pitch, roll and heave can be combined with representative light and shade from the interaction of different light sources to create a faithful representation of the physical world.

Tests such as the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) Headlight Test can also be effectively simulated using rfpro. This enables manufacturers to refine and develop their vehicles and lighting systems to ensure good results in a virtual environment, at low cost, before committing to the expense of physical hardware and testing.

AB Dynamics, a leading provider of automotive test equipment welcomes this technology and values the many practical benefits it brings to testing. Professor Pim van der Jagt, technical director AB Dynamics Europe gmbh and formerly of Ford Research and Advanced Engineering commented “The subjective testing of advanced lighting systems can cause many logistical issues, especially in the summer period. This new rfpro functionality almost completely eliminates the need for subjective night driving. This also makes demonstrating new advanced lighting features to senior management and OEM customers much easier.”

Rfpro has run up to 50 vehicles modelled with IES lighting in virtual test scenarios from a single PC. The new software is now being marketed and has just gone on trial with a major Tier 1 automotive lighting supplier.

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