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Autonomous Things

The Analysis Agenda - What Next for Engineering Simulation?

Autonomous Things

Artificial Intelligence becomes Real

Before any autonomous technology hits the real world, we need to simulate its behavior accurately. The physical environment needs to be represented more truly than ever before. Technology that affects the physical world and makes its own data-driven decisions is here, and simulation has never been more critical.

NAFEMS is facilitating the conversation on how the simulation community can adapt and rise to the challenge of a world where technology is autonomous. The simulation and modelling around data-driven decisions just can’t be wrong.

While there are numerous areas we could explore in the "Autonomous Things" topic, the ones most familiar to all of us are the Autonomous Vehicle (AV) and, the building blocks that make “autonomous” possible, Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS).

At the moment everyone has their eyes set on the current and future use of ADAS. However, the concept of advanced driver-assistance systems has been around for decades. One example that comes to mind is that of the fully electric anti-lock braking system (ABS). Initially developed for the Concorde aircraft [1] it later became standard in every car thanks to Mario Palazzetti (a now-retired FIAT Research Centre engineer whose work to help stop the spread of COVID-19 transmission was recently highlighted [2]).

In case anyone just read that last part and reacted with "shock and horror," perhaps due to possibly erroneous reporting on my part, my understanding is that Palazzetti sold the patent to Bosch, who then worked with Daimler-Benz to introduce the first generation of anti-lock braking system for cars when it was rolled out with the W116 S-Class in the late 1970s. Of course, you have Dunlop that developed a system for the RAF two decades earlier, as well as Ferguson Research's contribution to Formula One a decade earlier. [3] At this point, go with the one you feel deserves the credit as long as we can agree that ABS has been around for decades!

When we think about AV and ADAS today, however, there are many complex systems involved and simulation is playing a critical role in each of these areas. One of the most compelling cases is the need to road test these vehicles for thousands to billions of miles, depending on the level of autonomy, to meet critical safety standards; a process that would, without simulation, take companies up to 300 years to achieve. More on this can be found in the two articles, “Effective and Efficient Simulation for AD and ADAS” and “Simulation Limited”, which are listed in the “Resources” tab (see above).

High-fidelity sensors, LIDARs, cameras, radars, and actuators to accurately predict installed on-vehicle performance involve physics-based sensor modeling, mechanical, thermal, and electromagnetic system-level simulation, and more. These are the systems that provide forward collision protection (e.g., automatic emergency braking and adaptive lighting), backing-up and parking (e.g., rear automatic braking, rearview video system, and rear-cross traffic alerts), lane and side-assistance (e.g., lane departure, lane centering and keeping, and blind-spot detection), and safe distance support (e.g., traffic jam assistance, highway pilot, and adaptive cruise control). Additional challenges are encountered when accounting for unexpected adverse weather conditions across all of these systems.

We also need to take account of Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) communication, enabled by 4G-LTE and 5G networks, which has the potential to make driving safer and more efficient. The vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), vehicle-to-network (V2N), vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P), vehicle-to-device (V2D), and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) communication systems have transformative potential, but would not be possible without electromagnetic simulation.

Of course, beyond the conventional simulation methodologies, in time we will see new design and development processes to meet “next-generation” requirements, not to mention significant changes required by energy grids to support the ‘electric vehicle wave’ promises made by OEMs to be all (or mostly) electric in the next decade.

Having recognized that it’s impossible to do this topic justice in a brief overview, we have collected some resources we feel may be of interest to you, and we have some upcoming activities devoted to exploring it at a deeper level. Take a look at these two tabs above for more information.

(Note: Thanks to a presentation delivered by Hubertus Tummescheit in 2015, I've never been able to forget his comparison of ABS controls on/off to two dogs approaching the water on a beach.)

- Matt Ladzinski, NAFEMS



Heritage Concorde, "Concorde Landing Gear Braking Systems," 2014. [Online]. Available [Accessed 15 February 2021].


Google Patents, "Anti-skid braking systems," 1971. [Online]. Available [Accessed 15 February 2021]


Road and Track, "Anti-Lock Brakes, The First Technology to Help You Avoid a Crash, Turn 40," Frontiers Media, 24 August 2018. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 15 February 2021].

Effective and Efficient Simulation for AD and ADAS

The simulation and overall testing of Autonomous Driving and Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems is probably one of the most complex tasks today. So, why do OEMs even bother with it?
Effective and Efficient Simulation for AD and ADAS
In an article written by David Felhos, NAFEMS Eastern Europe Representative, a compelling case is made for why it is impossible to effectively validate AD and ADAS without simulation.

Simulation Limited

Did you know that simulating the image of unique cameras used for self-driving was the driving force behind the development of a new engine for a simulator design for autonomous vehicle development?
Simulation Limited
In an article written by Zoltán Hortsin, AImotive, learn why the demands of simulation for self-driving cars are extremely high and not all simulators are created equal.

Automated Driving Refined in Virtual Environments

Ashley Micks, who received her PhD in Aerospace Engineering from Stanford University and is currently a Technical Specialist at Ford Motor Company, explained why simulation will be a necessary addition to real-world testing in order to thoroughly validate vehicle features at higher levels of autonomy.
Automated Driving Refined in Virtual Environments

Systems Thinking, MBSE, and Simulation of Autonomous Vehicle Systems

Christopher Davey, of Ford Motor Company, shared his thoughts on Systems Thinking, MBSE, and Simulation in the Design and Analysis of Highly Distributed Autonomous Vehicle Systems.

View Slides

Want to Learn More about Autonomous Things?

Want to Learn More about Autonomous Things?

Visit the NAFEMS Resource Center for numerous technical materials produced by NAFEMS and its members in 2020 and 2021 related to the topic of "Autonomous Things."