Longitudinal Vehicle Dynamics: A Comparison of Physical and Data-Driven Models Under Large-Scale Real-World Driving Conditions
Submitted to Vehicle System Dynamics
Mathematical models of vehicle dynamics will form essential components of future autonomous vehicles. They may be used within inverse or forward control loops, or within predictive learning systems. Often, nonlinear physical models are used in this context, which, though conceptually simple (especially for decoupled, longitudinal dynamics), may be computationally costly to parameterise and also inaccurate if they omit vehicle-specific dynamics. In this study we sought to determine the relative
merits of a commonly used nonlinear physical model of vehicle dynamics versus data-driven models in large-scale real-world driving conditions. To this end, we compared the performance of a standard nonlinear physical model with a linear state-space model and a neural network model. The large-scale experimental
data was obtained from two vehicles; a Lancia Delta car and a Jeep Renegade SUV. The vehicles were driven on regular, public roads, during normal human driving, across a range of road gradients. Both data-driven models outperformed the physical model. The neural network model performed best for both vehicles; the state-space model performed almost as well as the neural network for the Lancia Delta, but fell short for the Jeep Renegade whose dynamics were more strongly nonlinear. Our results suggest that the linear data-driven model gives a good trade-off in accuracy and simplicity, whilst the neural network model is most accurate and is extensible to more nonlinear operating conditions, and finally that the widely used physical model may not be the best choice for control design.