#NEXTgen 2020: Ideal simulation tools for every phase of vehicle development

2 min read
Nov. 12. 2020
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Munich - The BMW Group is creating every opportunity for its vehicle research and development engineers to simulate and test the product requirements of the future under realistic conditions with its new Driving Simulation Centre.

With 14 simulators and usability labs covering an area of 11,400 square metres, it is the most advanced and diversified simulation centre in the automotive industry.

As Michael Brachvogel, Head of BMW Group Research Interiors, User Interaction, User Experience and Driving Simulation, explains, “The aim of the new centre is to provide the ideal simulation tool for every area and every phase of the vehicle development process, all under one roof.” The focus on the customer in the development stage is also being raised to a whole new level. “We can perform test drives for studies with up to 100 test persons per day,”

From the early concept phase through to the final function validation stage, the centre provides the various specialist areas in vehicle development with an ideal simulation tool. Facilities range from static simulators without a motion system to the high-fidelity simulator, which transports the road into the lab to remarkably realistic effect with its nearly 400 square metres of motion area. Whether it’s innovative entertainment technologies and display and operating concepts, multimodal interaction between occupants and vehicle, fine-tuning of the chassis, or wide-ranging driver assistance functions all the way up to interior scenarios for fully automated driving – virtually every aspect of car development can be tested here in terms of suitability for the customer. The virtual test drives are regularly performed by external test persons and not just by BMW Group engineers.

For years now, driving simulation has played a key role in driving dynamics development at the BMW Group. The new Driving Simulation Centre will enable the virtual development process to be further expanded, reducing the number of prototypes that need to be built as well as the duration of the development cycle. Tyres or entire axles can be swapped in a matter of seconds and test routes all over the world selected at the push of a button in the driving simulator. It’s even possible to seamlessly transition from summer to winter. All the various influencing factors can be reproduced with a high degree of accuracy in the simulation.

The high-fidelity and high-dynamic simulators are the standout highlights of the new Driving Simulation Centre, both visually and technologically. They create the type of test conditions that in the past could only be experienced with actual test vehicles on the road. Besides targeted optimisation of innovative user functions, testing in the lab has the added benefit of making it possible to reproduce specific driving situations as often as required, significantly increasing the validity of the evaluated test results. The driving simulators can also be used for acting out test scenarios that seldom occur in real-life driving and only under unusual circumstances, or that involve an element of danger and therefore cannot be recreated for test purposes alone out on an actual road.

However, findings from on-road testing can be checked and validated by means of realistic simulations in the lab.