Standalone startup Aurora calls on Pixar veterans to create more realistic virtual world for testing – TechCrunch

Aurora, the autonomous vehicle startup due to debut on Nasdaq next week, turns to a team of Pixar veterans to help make the computer simulation tool used to test and train its autonomous driving system closer of the real world.

Three person computer graphic imaging startup Colrspace, who was operating stealthily, joined Aurora’s perception team. Aurora will also own the intellectual property of Colrspace, in particular the technology that combines CGI and machine learning. The trio, which includes Michael fu, Allen Hemberger and Alex Harvill, developed a technique that allows 3D objects and materials to be reconstructed from a photo or image. Essentially, it makes the simulation more “realistic,” which Aurora and other autonomous vehicle developers say helps make testing more efficient.

Fu, Hemberger and Harvill will join Aurora’s perception team, which already includes people from 7D, a simulation startup founded by former Pixar software engineer Magnus Wrenninge. TechCrunch learned in 2019 that it had acquired 7D.

While Aurora and competitors like Argo AI, Cruise and Waymo regularly perform real-world testing on closed circuits and public roads, computer simulations are seen as an essential tool for testing, training and validating their autonomous vehicle technology. . Simulation can be used to help the autonomous driving system test various scenarios or replay what happened in the real world. The end game is to train and evaluate the software stack so that it is secure in the real world.

It is not uncommon for the largest audiovisual companies to perform thousands, if not millions of simulations on a daily basis. Aurora, for example, estimates that its simulator is equivalent to running over 50,000 trucks continuously. Aurora’s computer simulator, called the Virtual Testing Suite, traverses a wide range of driving conditions as well as common and unusual (extreme cases) scenarios to detect errors early and before it is deployed in vehicles traveling on the road. public highway. Data captured while driving on public roads is also fed back into the simulator.

This year, Aurora has put more effort and resources into expanding its simulation program. Aurora said this month that it expects to have driven the equivalent of more than 9 billion simulated kilometers by the end of the year, including 6 billion kilometers driven so far in 2021.

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