Perception sensor data plays a critical role in the development and validation of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and Autonomous Vehicles (AVs). High volumes of digital data need to be simultaneously collected from a multiple of sensors including radars, cameras, lidars, and vehicle buses
The Simcenter SCAPTOR product family provides a comprehensive tool chain that accelerates data-driven development cycles. SCAPTOR stands for Sensor Capture. The Simcenter SCAPTOR hardware and software tools are tailored to capture and analyze raw and high-bandwidth data streams. It collects, processes, and synchronizes all data streams inside your vehicle.
Figure 1: The Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder hardware is a configurable and high-speed data acquisition system that can record cameras, radars, lidars, and vehicle buses.
In this article, you will learn about the Simcenter SCAPTOR product family. It will provide insights into different hardware and software packages that facilitate efficient data collection for ADAS and AVs. It is divided into the following sections: 1. Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder Hardware: High-speed recorder with Flexible inputs 2. Simcenter SCAPTOR MDILink Hardware: Record Raw Cameras 3. Simcenter SCAPTOR NetLion Hardware: Record Automotive Ethernet 4. Simcenter SCAPTOR UPS Hardware: Uninterruptable Power 5. Simcenter SCAPTOR CopyLynx Hardware: For Efficient data Ingestion 6. Simcenter SCAPTOR XTSS Software: Time Synchronization 7. Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder Software: Configure and Record Data 8. Simcenter SCAPTOR Analyzer Software: Analyze Data 9. Typical Recording Setups and Use Cases
Read on to learn all about the Simcenter SCAPTOR family!
1. Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder Hardware: High-speed recorder with Flexible inputs
The Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder hardware is a measurement platform designed for the acquisition of high-bandwidth data. It interfaces to sensors and Electronic Control Units (ECUs) to centralize, timestamp, and log all their data streams. Its modular design directly addresses ADAS/AV recording challenges.
The Simcenter SCAPTOR consists of three different layers as shown in Figure 2:
Figure 2: Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder hardware is split into three modules: the storage cartridge, the core module, and the expansion slots.
Each layer has different capabilities:
Core: Reliable and trustworthy ADAS and AVs must handle large quantities of scenarios safely. This requires a combination of different and complementary sensor technologies. Such sensor fusion setups should be recorded bit accurately and considering the time delays between individual sensors. This is the role of the core module located in the middle of the Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder hardware. It contains its computational unit, as well as its standard input channels.
Storage cartridge: Over the last years, increases in the resolution and quantity of perception sensors have led to an explosion of data. The Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder uses high-speed and capacity storage cartridges. The latest Solid-State Drive (SDD) technology is capable of handling large data throughput. Therefore, several SSDs are combined into a single cartridge to offer an appropriate trade-off between speed and reliability. The total storage capacity scales up to 32 terabytes (TB) per cartridge, and they sustain up to 16 gigabits per second (Gb/s) of data. Their swappable design greatly simplifies data ingestion at the end of a test drive.
Expansion slots: Finally, the third and last module offers several expansion slots for customization. For instance, it can be connected to in-vehicle busses to monitor the state of its ECUs. Today, the Controller Area Network (CAN) bus is still widely used for this application. However, the improved version handling Flexible Data-rates (CAN-FD) is becoming increasingly popular to meet the need for higher transfer rates. An extension card handling eight independent channels for both types of CAN is available for the Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder hardware. Additionally, an Ethernet extension card provides six additional channels that directly integrate Power-over-Ethernet to supply the connected sensors.
These layers can be configured with several different types of input channels to record perception sensor data (Figure 3):
Figure 3: The Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder hardware offers multiple high-bandwidth and time synchronized inputs for the logging of in-vehicle data streams.
Input channel options include:
1GbE TS: The 1 gigabit per second ports support the recording of standard ethernet streams. They are used by many sensor types such as lidars, radars, ECUs, Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs), etc. They are fully time synchronized for accurate timestamping of the received data. On the core unit, five 1GbE TS ports are available (one in the back, not pictured). Additionally, six extra ports can be added through an expansion card.
10GbE TS: These are very high-speed data interfaces based on 10 gigabit per second ethernet. They are required to collect the data from high-resolution sensors, including cameras used in surround perception systems. Two ports are available in the core module of the Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder hardware.
USB3.0: The four Universal Serial Bus 3.0 ports can be used to record standard webcams for measurement annotation. The webcams should support the DirectShow framework.
CAN/CAN-FD: These communication buses are used in most vehicles to interface different ECUs and actuators. Some lower bandwidth sensors such as radars and smart cameras also use it to transmit their detection lists. An extension card with eight channels can be added to the recorder to collect CAN and CAN-FD data streams.
GNSS [Not pictured, in the back]: The Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder hardware contains a GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) receiver connected to an antenna in the back of the unit. It provides both position and timing information. Global Positioning System (GPS) is one type of GNSS. supported.
Different utility ports are available on the Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder hardware:
DisplayPort: An external screen can be directly connected to the Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder hardware to access the Microsoft Windows operating system running on the unit. In combination with an external keyboard and mouse, in-depth configuration options are accessible.
SATA: Serial ATA (SATA) for mass storage extensions.
WLAN 802.11 a/b/g/n [Not pictured, in the back]: Provides wireless access to the Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder software. It provides all the tools required to configure and monitor the system. Data recording sessions can be started and stopped directly from a web browser.
1GbE MGMT [Not pictured]: Provides direct access to the Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder software over a wired ethernet connection.
The Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder hardware weighs around 5kg and measures 320mm x 250mm x 110mm. A version without Wi-Fi is available for extended certifications.
2. Simcenter SCAPTOR MDILink Hardware: Record Raw Cameras
Production-grade automotive cameras require high-bandwidth data interfaces that are both reliable and cost-effective. Flat Panel Display Link (FPD-Link III) and Gigabit Serial Multimedia Link (GMSL2) are two technologies used in today’s vehicles to address those requirements. They transmit data and power over a single coaxial cable to simplify their connection and provide a high level of electromagnetic compatibility. Configuration messages between the sensor and its control unit are also sent over the same link using an Inter-Integrated Circuit (I²C) channel.
The Simcenter SCAPTOR MDILink (Modular Data Interface) hardware has been developed to interface with high-resolution in-vehicle cameras and to capture their raw output data streams (Figure 4).
Figure 4: Interface with or tap production-grade raw cameras using the Simcenter SCAPTOR MDILink hardware.
The data collected from high-speed serial interfaces such as FPD-Link III and GMSL2 is forwarded over 10Gb Ethernet. It can then be easily analyzed and recorded by the Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder hardware. The Simcenter SCAPTOR MDILink hardware enables flexible access to the raw sensor data for the development of ADAS/AV perception algorithms, as well as for the validation of new sensor technologies.
3. Simcenter SCAPTOR NETLion Hardware: Record Automotive Ethernet
Automotive Ethernet is increasingly used inside vehicles for ADAS and infotainment applications. It offers the high-bandwidth of regular Ethernet while reducing the cable harness weight compared to traditional CAN-based approaches. Its improved robustness against electromagnetic noise also makes it suitable for harsh in-vehicle conditions. However, this requires the usage of a different physical layer compared to regular Ethernet.
The Simcenter SCAPTOR NETLion supports the development and test engineers in logging and analyzing in-vehicle data traffic (Figure 5). It can translate two 1000 or 100BASE-T1 channels into regular Ethernet and the other way around. Hence, it enables to connect and translate Automotive Ethernet data sent by sensors and ECUs with the SCAPTOR Recorder.
Figure 5: Analyze Automotive Ethernet data streams using the Simcenter SCAPTOR NETLion
Alternatively, it can also act as a network tap, where it directly forwards data between its two channels. Therefore, the NETLion can be seamlessly integrated into an existing Automotive Ethernet network. The tap is transparent to the existing network, and the data traffic is forwarded over regular Ethernet. A typical use case is the troubleshooting and validation of in-vehicle systems.
4. Simcenter SCAPTOR UPS Hardware: Uninterruptable Power
It is important to consider power requirements when integrating advanced ADAS/AV recording setups inside a test vehicle. Therefore, the Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder hardware offers an automotive-grade power supply that supports input voltages from 10 up to 32V. It is designed to be directly connected to the in-vehicle power network (Figure 6 - Left) and is also protected against crank-down events down to 6.5V. A centralized power switch or an external on/off signal can start and stop the whole data logging solution. For instance, the ignition signal allows starting the recorder together with the vehicle. For increased resiliency against power fluctuations, an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is available (Figure 6 - Right).
Figure 6: In-vehicle power supply for the Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder hardware with (right side) and without (left side) the optional UPS unit for increased resiliency against power fluctuations.
This industrial UPS integrates Li-ion batteries with a total capacity of 160Wh. It connects on one side to the vehicle network, which charges the batteries. On the other side, the unit supplies the recorder and other sensors. The UPS hardware switches seamlessly from vehicle to battery power to offer continuous data recordings.
5. Simcenter SCAPTOR CopyLynx Hardware: Efficient data Ingestion
Once collected, the data needs to be shared with development and validation engineers. This enables the generation and training of new perception algorithms, as well as the validation of their performance through data replay (Figure 7).
Figure 7: Get recorded data efficiently and quickly from test vehicles to the hands of development and validation engineers.
Data ingestion is a critical process that gets the data from the test vehicle into the hands of the engineers that use it. Efficient ingestion requires high-bandwidth data transfers, minimizes human actions, and maximizes the availability of test vehicles.
The Simcenter SCAPTOR CopyLynx hardware is a data ingestion system that is directly compatible with the storage cartridges (Figure 8).
Figure 8: The Simcenter SCAPTOR CopyLynx hardware is purpose-built for efficient data ingestion thanks to its easy to use user interface and wide array of data outputs.
It provides several high-speed interfaces such as 10GbE, USB3.1, or eSATA. This makes it easy to transfer recorded data to an on-premise data center or a remote cloud provider. No external PC or peripherals are required. Instead, a simple purpose-built user interface is used, which reduces the risk of costly user manipulation errors.
6. Simcenter SCAPTOR XTSS Software: Time Synchronization
Accurate timestamping is critical when designing complex sensor fusion systems. Small delays between different sensor readings may directly affect control decisions. Therefore, it is important to capture those time fluctuations when gathering data during system development and validation.
High levels of confidence in the acquired timestamps require system-wide time synchronization. The Simcenter SCAPTOR family utilizes the IEEE 1588 standard in its Simcenter SCAPTOR XTSS software (X-Time Synchronization Service). It transmits timing information from a reference clock to all units to align their internal clocks. Hardware-based timestamping then associates timing information to each received data packet.
Out-of-the-box, the Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder hardware, or a built-in GNSS receiver can provide a reference time (Figure 9).
Figure 9: The Simcenter SCAPTOR XTSS software provides time synchronization across a complete recording setup.
The latter is used to obtain an absolute time base. Simcenter SCAPTOR MDILink units are subsequently synchronized over their 10GbE link. Similarly, ECUs supporting the IEEE standard can also be synchronized.
Importantly, the Simcenter SCAPTOR XTSS software can synchronize multiple recorders with each other. A cluster of recorder has an increased total bandwidth and storage capacity.
7. Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder Software: Configure and Record Data
Test engineers directly control the system through an easy-to-use web application (Figure 10).
Figure 10: The Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder software is a web application used for monitoring the state and configuring the Recorder hardware.
The Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder software offers a centralized overview of the whole recording setup and all the connected data sources. All data channels can be configured to match your sensor’s requirements.
The web application is accessible either through a direct connection with the Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder hardware or using a Wi-Fi hotspot. The latter is especially useful during test drives. Indeed, the driver can easily start and stop recordings from a tablet or a mobile phone.
Finally, data integrity is always monitored to detect frame losses or corrupt information. Guaranteeing data integrity is critical for the safety certification of ADAS/AV systems, following the ISO26262-8:2011 standard.
8. Simcenter SCAPTOR Analyzer Software: Analyze Data
The Simcenter SCAPTOR Analyzer software is a flexible tool for the visualization of raw sensor data. It integrates seamlessly with the Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder hardware inside the vehicle, where test engineers can visualize live data. It can also further analyze pre-recorded data in the post-processing phase (Figure 11).
Figure 11: Use the Simcenter SCAPTOR Analyzer software to monitor live data or analyze recordings during post-processing for different time-synchronized data streams.
The Simcenter SCAPTOR Analyzer software helps test engineers visualize synchronized data from different perception sensors. These include cameras, lidars, vehicle buses, GNSS, and IMUs. Therefore, it is suitable to create visualization dashboards to monitor the integrity of the collected data. Thanks to its multi-core architecture, the analyzer software can handle the highest data rates. This enables increased insights into the performance of modern ADAS and AV applications.
Several visualization and processing functions are available out-of-the-box. Additionally, it is possible to add customized plugins using the provided Software Development Kit (SDK).
9. Typical Recording Setups and Use Cases
Major use cases for in-vehicle data collection are the benchmarking of sensors, perception algorithms training, and scenario generation. Typically, they involve the direct recording of the sensor data without the presence of an ADAS or AV control unit. This requires the recorder to replace some of the ECU functionalities. For instance, it may have to provide configuration messages to one or several sensors.
As an example, four cameras are simultaneously recorded using two Simcenter SCAPTOR MDI Link units (Figure 12).
Figure 12: Collect perception data for the generation of test scenarios and the training of perception algorithms using a standalone in-vehicle recording setup.
A sequence of I²C messages can be sent out during the sensor startup to configure the cameras. Furthermore, the MDILinks timestamp and log the I²C traffic sent together with the images by the cameras. This always enables test engineers to monitor the status of the sensor.
A reference lidar and a high-accuracy GNSS can be captured simultaneously over 1GbE. Finally, the Simcenter SCAPTOR Recorder collects radar data by logging all traffic on a CAN bus. The CAN extension card is used for this purpose and emits acknowledge bits on the bus to answer sensor traffic.
Another common use case is the validation of ADAS and AV control units inside a vehicle. This requires the logging of both its input signals and the corresponding outputs (Figure 13).
Figure 13: Validate existing ADAS/AV controllers in-vehicle by tapping their input sensor data streams and output control actions.
It is critical to collect this data transparently or, in other words, without affecting the behavior of the connected sensor and ECU.
In such a tapping use case, one should differentiate between data busses, such as CAN bus, and point-to-point connections like GMSL2. The former can be acquired directly by connecting the recorder to the bus. Moreover, the CAN and CAN-FD extension card can deactivate its acknowledge function. In this configuration, it becomes entirely passive and only collects data without affecting the bus.
Point-to-point connections such as GMSL2 or FPD-Link III require the usage of active tapping. The Simcenter SCAPTOR MDILink hardware can actively mirror the data from one of its input to an output with a minimal delay. Likewise, the I²C traffic is copied in both directions to make the MDILink hardware fully transparent to both the ECU and sensor. The recorder is logging all the transmitted data over the 10GbE link. Active data tapping tools are also available for Automotive Ethernet using the Simcenter SCAPTOR NETLion hardware.
For more information on sensors used in Autonomous and Advanced Driving Assistance in vehicles, see the knowledge article: AV and ADAS Sensors.