25 Aug 2020

Integrating Repeatability and Reality for Best Results

As the automotive industry develops hardware and software for autonomous vehicles, the manufacturers and their suppliers must evaluate their products for safety and performance. One of the most challenging areas when assessing autonomous vehicles and their components is striking the balance between repeatability and reality.

Repeatability is essential to ensure accurate results and data, across subsequent test runs. However, the real-world is often not the same day-to-day as road conditions, weather and traffic flow can vary and the unexpected situations – accidents, construction, and other drivers – can occur. We may think we know what to expect when we get behind the wheel, but this isn't always true.

When developing a test plan for autonomous vehicles, it is important to create a program that incorporates these types of complex real-world, random events in a manner that can be repeated the so engineers can accurately measure the results and accumulate valuable data. In a safe and controlled setting, like a proving ground, testing simulations can account for things like pedestrians, weather, road conditions, and traffic to assess automated vehicle systems and their components. This shows how the autonomous vehicle will function in the real world and helps ensure a successful product.

The controlled nature of these tests allows them to be replicated as many times as necessary.  This is critical as hardware and software updates are made and products are otherwise changed or altered.  These products need to be re-assessed and this reliability allows engineers to perform the tests as often as needed and measure improvements made over the earlier test programs. They can also ensure the accuracy of their data and test reports.

One such example is the American Center for Mobility (ACM) powered by Intertek, which is designed specifically to accelerate the development of automated and connected vehicle technologies. This test track is designed and built for the development and validation of connected vehicle technologies, assessing products to various scenarios at a number of speeds in several setting types. Learn more about the ACM and our assessment capabilities.



Ralph Buckingham,
Director, Transportation Technologies


Ralph Buckingham is a director with Intertek's Transportation Technologies team where he manages lab operations and has led the expansion of Intertek's Aerospace and Automotive, EMC, VOC and connected and autonomous vehicles capabilities. He participates on various standard development committees, contributing to the evolution of telematics, connected vehicle, and autonomous vehicle testing procedures.

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