Dassault grows VR portfolio to meet autonomous-tech demands


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Written by Lindsay Brooke

If the game-show $1000 question is "CATIA," the easy winning answer is "Dassault Systemes." The iconic design software is fundamental across the mobility industry and the France-based company continues to innovate at a rapid pace. Customers are calling for greater simulation capability for ADAS development and pretty much all hardware and software supporting the automated/connected vehicle revolution. In Sept. 2017 Dassault acquired Exa Corp. to further enhance its 3DExperience platform; this followed a 2016 partnership with HTC that added 3D mock-up and PLM solutions to the toolsets. Automotive Engineering caught up with the busy Mike LaLande, Dassault"s Director of North American Transportation & Mobility Systems, to find out more. Simulation tools continue to get more sophisticated and capable, and Dassault seems to be building related capabilities, both internally and through partnerships. We"ve had a number of acquisitions to help us round out our platform. VR [virtual reality] use is really growing in the industry. We now have a full suite of simulation tools for airflow, NVH, durability, thermal management, batteries, anything needed to simulate and do analysis to eliminate physical testing. In 2014 we acquired a stake in a company [Realtime Technology] that does very high-fidelity renderings in VR; to see a great video Google Honda crash test in VR." A luxury vehicle today has a million lines of code in it we can simulate how that code will operate within the context of the hardware and software in that vehicle. Engineers continue to tell us that Systems Integration is becoming more critical in developing automated and connected vehicle technologies. What is Dassault doing in this trend? Yes, and ADAS has become a major focus of our tool called CATIA Systems Engineering. One customer we"re working with completely modeled, simulated, tested, and put into production a Ped-Pro system with our tools. Our test case was a cyclist darting out between a parked truck and car in traffic. What will the car"s radar, lidar and cameras see? How quickly will the system react in daylight? At night or in fog? Testing for autonomy requires realism to create a virtual but truly real" environment. We change environmental test conditions in real time change the road surface and the traction conditions. We don"t have to wait for it to snow or rain. This reduces testing time and money. OEMs are looking for ways to integrate software and hardware. Yes, historically they"ve been separate development systems, including simulation. With our platform concept, it"s like your cell phone running apps that are integrated on it. We"re doing that through an integrated platform. We"re not yet at the level of including vehicle calibration in an ADAS design. But we can get the inputs from the sensor developers and distribute that information through the vehicle electronics. We"re getting a lot of interest from the Tier 1s, as they"re designing these systems. The OEMs are serving as system integrators. Is vehicle electrification driving new Dassault solutions? We have customers in Europe using our tools to design their entire electrical architecture. One of them, in designing their battery-electric hybrid using our platform, can virtually plug in" the number of battery cells, experiment with and analyze different battery configurations, investigate different vehicle wheelbases for packaging, then run a systems test and put the vehicle on a virtual road to examine the effect on vehicle dynamics and ride quality. All done under different driver scenarios. They can also optimize battery life, all within one model. No need for physical prototypes. To build one of them may cost a quarter of a million dollars and typically you need more than one.

Date written: 25-Jan-2018 11:01 EST

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