Image: BMW

BMW is investing around €100 million in a new driving simulation facility at its FIZ Research and Innovation Centre, Munich. It describes this as to be the world’s most advanced of its kind, and says it will enable virtual testing of advanced assistance systems and display and control concepts for autonomous driving.

The Driving Simulation Centre is being constructed in a central part of the FIZ site and will cover 11,400 square meters, with 14 simulators and usability labs. It will employ 157 people from its opening in 2020.

Simulators are to include one capable of simultaneously representing longitudinal, transverse and rotational movements of a vehicle, generating acceleration forces of up to 1.0g: this high-dynamic simulator will test new systems and functions for evasive manoeuvres, full braking and hard acceleration, for example. A second unit with a near-400 square meter motion area will offer high-fidelity simulations of scenarios such as braking and accelerating whilst cornering; driving around roundabouts; and a rapid series of multiple turn-off manoeuvres. Complex urban driving situations can now be realistically replicated.

BMW describes the driving simulator as comprising a vehicle mock-up on a platform within a dome; drivers will see images projected onto a screen in precise synchronization with the vehicle’s movements, complete with a sound simulation. This will enable the testing of certain conditions and situations in a lab for the first time, as well as increased repetition and validation of tests, and the testing of situations that could not be safely created in real life on-road. More configurations can be tested at an earlier stage before on-road tests, as well as multiple or combined scenarios, and issues such as driver distraction from display and control systems.

The virtual test drives will be conducted by development engineers and professional test-drivers, but BMW will also bring in customers to help assess and analyse factors such as usability and ‘real’ driver behaviour. The company notes in a statement: “Long before the first mile of actual road driving has been performed, the new Driving Simulation Centre is able to indicate clearly how well a new system will stand up to the everyday reality of a vehicle’s life on the road.”

-Farah Alkhalisi