Autonomous technology specialist Oxbotica has turned to the gaming world to accelerate development of its automated driving software.
Game developers known for their work with flight simulators, racing games and sports titles on both consoles and smartphones have been drafted in to help create a virtual world for testing driverless car software. The techniques behind animation technology used in the development of blockbuster movies are also being harnessed by Oxbotica, while a video game engine, not dissimilar to those behind Fortnite and Call of Duty, is helping run the company’s virtual test program.
Simulation augments the company’s extensive real-world testing of driverless vehicles both in its home town of Oxford and on the busy streets of the UK’s capital city, London. Yet using the virtual world is seen as a key enabler for the company’s autonomous software stack and its goal of Universal Autonomy, allowing engineers to run virtual testing in an infinite number of scenarios. It allows easy and quick variations in environmental conditions, traffic congestion and modeling unpredictable pedestrian behavior or scenarios.
Software changes can then be played back through these simulations in a fraction of the time required for live testing, allowing development to happen quickly, safely and at scale. Simulated scenarios can be run all day, every day, to ensure our software is thoroughly tested before being deployed to the fleet, whether that’s on-road, off-road, down a mine or around an airport.
Todd Gibbs was the first game developer to move to Oxbotica having previously headed up game development of the smash hit CSR Racing on iOS and Android. He said: “At Oxbotica, we have attracted some of the brightest talent from the video game industry because they bring a speed of development and deployment unique to that industry. There is a lot of commonality between developing a chart-topping game and autonomous software, the most valuable being robust coding principles and a focus on CPU efficiency. We are able to write new code, debug and test in real-time without sacrificing robustness or safety.”
— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_