Building Your Virtual Vehicle with Simulink

Virtual vehicle refers to the virtualization of the vehicle product development lifecycle, typically using a system-level simulation of the vehicle behavior. Virtual vehicle simulations enable automotive engineers to gain insight into real-world behavior quickly, perform virtual testing in different scenarios, and verify the functionality of embedded software. Frontloading development in this way helps speed up variant assessment, study edge cases safely, and improve product quality.

In order to develop a virtual vehicle, you must:

  • Create vehicle models
  • Integrate embedded software
  • Define test scenarios
  • Simulate and analyze
  • Deploy simulation

“Virtual vehicle simulation is essential for continuous evaluation of requirements, models and software throughout the development cycle.”

Robert ter Waarbeek, Ford Technical Expert

See How Others Build Virtual Vehicle Simulations Using Simulink

Create Vehicle Models

You can tune pre-built reference applications to match your vehicle design. These parameterized models include powertrain and vehicle dynamics and you can apply them to vehicle energy optimization, fuel economy analysis, thermal analysis, and component sizing. You can further customize these models using components from electrical, mechanical, fluid, thermal, and multibody libraries.

For automated driving applications, you can incorporate a variety of detailed sensor models such as cameras, lidar, radar, and ultrasonic sensors.

Simulink® is an open integration platform with more than 100 connection partners with dedicated integration interfaces for Simulink. You can integrate custom FMUs with built-in support for a Functional Mock-Up Interface (FMI) from Simulink.


Integrate Embedded Software

Bring in your own controls algorithm, or use pre-built components and supervisory controllers, to quickly evaluate the closed-loop performance of your full vehicle.

To test controllers that are modeled in Simulink and Stateflow®, you can start with model-in-the-loop (MIL) simulation. Connecting these components with the virtual vehicle models is straightforward and provides an effective means to evaluate your algorithms during the early design stages.

At a later development phase, bring production C/C++ code for software-in-the-loop (SIL) simulation. You can call or compile C code through the C/C++ interfaces built into Simulink and analyze code coverage within the imported code.


Define Test Scenarios

Simulation using realistic parametrized scenes and driving scenarios is a crucial part of the virtual development process, especially for automated driving because it is the only practical way to achieve the required billions of miles of test driving to ensure its safety. With MATLAB®, Simulink, and add-on products, you can interactively create complex 3D road networks and markings or generate an area of road networks by importing high-definition map data, then add actors and trajectories. For simulating camera, radar, and lidar sensors, you can take advantage of the sensor models that run in the Unreal® environment co-simulating with Simulink.

For electrified powertrain development or other traditional vehicle applications, a suite of predefined driving maneuvers or standard drive cycle data is available to help you quickly evaluate your vehicle’s performance. You can easily modify them or synthesize custom drive cycles based on recorded fleet test data in MATLAB.


Simulate and Analyze

Model-Based Design lets you detect and correct system-design defects at modeling time. You can step your simulation forward and backward to gain insights into the vehicle design and understand unexpected behavior.

When the complete vehicle model simulates as expected, optimize performance and run massive simulation studies to explore the design space or validate the whole system behavior. You can conveniently scale up your simulation by distributing jobs to local multi-core, GPU, clusters, or the cloud for parallel execution.

Once the simulation results are available, review the results with built-in visualization tools and flexible MATLAB data visualization capabilities. Also, you can automate report generation for your simulations based on your organization’s standards.


Deploy Simulation

You can extend the benefits of simulation to broader teams who are not necessarily modeling experts. With App Designer, you can create customized apps and package them for distribution as a MATLAB app, standalone desktop app, or web app.

To integrate your virtual vehicle simulation with real-world vehicle fleet test data, you also have the option of deploying it to the cloud where large-scale data is often stored.

To validate hardware/software integration, you can deploy your full vehicle model for hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) testing using code generating products from MathWorks®.