WinterSIM and Snowbox – Designing first-class winter testing and simulations for autonomous vehicles in Lapland

The Finnish Lapland provides ideal Arctic winter conditions and digital infrastructure in Muonio for autonomous vehicle testing. WinterSIM is the new project funded by Business Finland that aims at turning Lapland and Snowbox testing facilities into the European ‘hub’ of winter testing and simulations for autonomous vehicles.

Simulation by using game technologies

The project aspires to produce information and knowledge on how the autonomous vehicle sensors and systems can be simulated in winter conditions by using game technologies such as Unreal and the open-source CARLA simulator.

WinterSIM will be executed in collaboration with organizations and companies such as Aurora Snowbox, Lapland Proving Ground, Ramboll Finland, Roadscanners, and Sensible 4.

Remote testing through winter layer simulations

Besides enabling on-site winter testing, WinterSIM will create virtual simulations for autonomous vehicles, which will replicate the realistic Arctic winter conditions. The virtual winter simulations will be produced at FrostBit Software Lab, which is the R&D unit of the Lapland University of Applied Sciences. This will be done using sensors, lidars and cameras, which will gather real-world data, for example, snowfall and ice, to create the virtual simulation environment. The data will then be exported into the CARLA simulator and combined with urban and rural road winter conditions. The initial plan is to use the urban layer from Rovaniemi and the rural layer from Muonio.

The virtual simulation of the winter conditions will allow the autonomous vehicle producers to perform two-stage testing and validation: the virtual data-based simulations and the real simulations on-site in Lapland.

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