Speaking to Engadget in a recent call, Tim McDonough, Unity’s head of Automotive explained the advantage of using Unity to test self-driving cars. “Nobody gets hurt in a video game. You can also test things that you can’t test in the real world. What happens if a kid runs up in front of the car, or a moose, those are things you just you just can’t test in the real world. But you can test infinite levels of detail in a simulation engine.”
The use of the engine and the virtual testing environment also means that Baidu could run multiple tests at once, meaning that more data can be collected compared to real-world testing. As Engadget points out, the engine already contains the assets needed to simulate roads, including street signs, pedestrians, and even meteorological events.
Jaewon Jung, Chief Architect of Baidu’s Intelligent Driving Group adds, “By using a platform like Unity, our developers can focus on testing and research without the worry of non-functional environments or building something from scratch. Unity gives the ability to expedite autonomous vehicle validation and training with precise ground truth data in a more effective and safer way.”