BMW employs Unity across its automotive lifecycle for a variety of use cases, from transforming production processes with AR and VR to marketing its vehicles in groundbreaking ways. Let’s explore one of BMW’s most innovative applications of real-time 3D technology – making it easier to navigate the complexity of autonomous driving (AD) and challenge its AD function across millions of simulated scenarios.
The BMW Group – home to the BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce, and BMW Motorrad brands – has been working on highly automated driving (AD) since 2006. In the upcoming years, the company hopes to offer drivers a groundbreaking opportunity – to buy a vehicle they will almost never need to drive themselves.
The BMW Group is targeting to sell cars with Level 3-enabled automation for driver assistance systems, highway driving, and parking in the upcoming years. (SAE Level 3 is defined as conditional driving automation with some human intervention required.)
Driving 95% of all test miles virtually
Just 5% of all BMW’s test miles will be driven by actual vehicles (video credit: BMW).
Around the world, a fleet of test vehicles from the BMW Group will pressure-test this technology. Because this fleet cannot gather all of the data needed for AD development, nearly 95% of all BMW’s test miles are driven by virtual vehicles in virtual worlds.
These simulations take place at BMW’s Autonomous Driving Campus in Unterschleissheim, Germany, just north of Munich. Nicholas Dunning, a graphical simulation developer at the BMW Group, is part of the core 12-person development team that has built custom tools made with Unity to help the 1,800 AD developers at BMW’s campus visualize and advance their work.
“At BMW, we believe simulation is key for developing autonomous driving,” says Dunning. “Unity plays a pivotal role in helping our team create, visualize, and evaluate the millions of virtual road trips needed to help us achieve our AD ambitions.”
How BMW uses Unity for AD development
With the overwhelming majority of its testing taking place in BMW’s bespoke datacenter for AD development, BMW needed to give its AD developers an easy way to:
Visualize the raw data from simulations in an immediately understandable, true-to-life way, beyond graphs and charts Evaluate the current state of their AD functions across countless simulated scenarios.
Taking advantage of Unity’s extensibility, Dunning’s team developed a custom Unity-based solution to address these needs. Let’s dive into the unique way they are using Unity to help the BMW Group bring a safe, reliable AD system to the street on schedule.
BMW used Unity to develop a graphical scenario editor that vastly simplifies the process to test and validate features in development. The interface makes it easy for AD developers to visualize and set up thousands of simulated scenarios that increase feature maturity and readiness.
Here’s a sampling of various elements they can parameterize in the scenario editor to battle-test features in simulation:
Quantity and type of traffic vehicles (car, bus, etc.) Pedestrians Traffic signs (ground or mounted) Lanes (straight, curved, etc.) Lane boundaries (none, single-solid, double-solid, dashed, etc.) Environmental conditions (time of day, fog density, precipitation level) Vehicle trajectory planning
In addition to scenarios generated manually by BMW’sContinue reading