• Constantin Gillies

Porsche Engineering is developing the intelligent vehicle of the future with Game Engines.

Game engines bring computer games to life – and they also help develop new driving functions, such as training driver assistance systems with synthetic sensor data. Porsche Engineering reports on the role they play in vehicle development.

When Tobias Watzl comes home from work, he occasionally sits down in front of the Playstation to relax. However, the 28-year-old sees the games differently from most players. "Sometimes I wonder, for example, how the developers managed to get a certain reflection or texture – instead of defeating my enemies," he says with a laugh. There's a reason he looks so closely: as part of the Porsche Engineering team, he creates virtual worlds every day, using a computer to recreate aspects of highways to train driver assistance systems, for example.

It is no coincidence that the digital road looks like a computer game. This is because Watzl uses Unreal software in his work – a game engine that generates the images in the hit computer game Fortnite, among others. What otherwise brings virtual battles to the screen is a simple tool at Porsche Engineering: game engines teach assistance systems or help designers visualise components. Thanks to gaming technology, customers will soon be able to take a virtual seat in the vehicle they have just ordered, long before it leaves the assembly line.

"Game engines provide the technology to create the necessary environment for simulating driver assistance systems as a standard feature," explains Frank Sayer, Senior Manager Virtual Vehicle Development at Porsche Engineering. The background: Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) algorithms need a lot of training and validation. For example, they have to learn how to detect a traffic situation at lightning speed using various sensors and react appropriately over several test kilometres. This would require many real test drives – and by no means every event necessary for training would occur.

Every eventuality can be played out

This is why Porsche Engineering is moving training into the virtual world: game engines simulate the drives with which the algorithm practices. Every scenario and every eventuality can be played out in this way – even