RoboK works with Siemens to fuse data for low-cost autonomous cars
RoboK, a VC-backed University of Cambridge spin-out, is collaborating with Siemens Digital Industries Software to create a virtual environment for developing, testing and validating advanced driving systems.
The Chesterton Road-based company uses disruptive new techniques to ‘see’ and ‘understand’ the implications of changes to their environment – which, crucially, need to be achieved at very low cost: the cost and complexity of developing next-generation advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) means they are often unavailable on lower-cost vehicles.
Hao Zheng, RoboK’s co-founder and CEO, says: “Advanced driving features, which range from collision avoidance and automatic lane-keeping through to fully automated driving, require miles of road test driving to ensure their safety.
“Although simulation provides a resource-efficient alternative it can be time-consuming. To accurately and realistically simulate all elements in the entire system it can take many hours to run and process even a single driving scenario.
“With the proprietary software developed by our team, which can run on general-purpose and low-power computing platforms, we can shorten the processing time from hours to seconds, drastically improving the efficiency of system-level validation and testing.
“We have reduced the computation time by developing a significant new method for fusing raw data directly from a range of sensors, such as cameras, radars, GPS and IMU, as well as for performing depth estimation to gain 3D information, all running on low-power computing platforms. This significantly reduces the memory and computing requirement. When this is combined with our novel and highly optimised AI-based perception modules, intelligent insights can be gained rapidly and efficiently, which is vital for fast decision-making.”
RoboK is a spin-out from the Department of Computer Science and Technology and is funded by strategic investors including AI Seed, Amadeus Capital Partners, Martlet, u-blox AG and Cambridge Enterprise.
The company has been selected by Siemens Digital Industries Software to create a closed-loop simulation that is capable of testing an entire vehicle with an unlimited number of complex driving simulations.
To demonstrate the capabilities of the system – which is built upon PAVE360, a pre-silicon autonomous validation environment – RoboK’s 3D perception module has been used to develop a digital twin demonstration of an autonomous emergency braking system.
David Fritz, senior director for autonomous and ADAS at Siemens Digital Industries Software, said: “RoboK’s novel 3D perception algorithms perform sensor fusion, enabling the virtual vehicle to ‘see’ its environment. The algorithms can process data in real-time on the virtual platform. With this validation platform, AV and ADAS designers can make sure that every software or hardware design iteration can be tested and validated virtually, quickly, and, most importantly, before any hardware is produced.”
RoboK’s perception module aims to deliver speed and efficiency to the virtual platform for mass-market use. Its patent-applied-for solutions may have implications for further use including in robotics.