Call – Extensions and Use-Cases for Autonomous Robot (SPIDER)


Background & addressed challenge

In the field of autonomous driving or robotics, verification and validation of solutions in the real world are essential. Varying traffic and weather conditions, sensor noise, or noisy hardware feedback from motor controllers can only be simulated with a huge effort. Integration of new functions into a demonstration vehicle is often the faster and more reliable testing method.

However, the process of integrating hardware and software into a test vehicle is a complex task and the gained results are often not reproduceable if the tests are executed manually. Therefore, Virtual Vehicle developed an autonomous robot prototype, the Smart Physical Demonstration and Evaluation Robot (SPIDER). This mobile hardware-in-the-loop (HiL) platform does not only provide solutions for a simple and fast integration of hardware and software, it further implements a broad set of base functions which can be used for the automated execution of tests.

We face two different types of challenges. On the one hand we continuously work on improving SPIDERs base hardware and software functionality. On the other hand, we are open to innovative ideas and technologies which are using the SPIDER as platform.


Offered technology


The main features of the SPIDER are highly dynamic omni-directional movement, robust and splash-water proof design, extensibility, and provision of power and data interfaces allowing to control its movements within a built-in safety framework. The flexible driving capabilities allow to execute a wide range of driving scenarios, which are not possible with cars.

The SPIDER can autonomously track predefined paths and uses different localization methods to increase precision and, by using indoor and outdoor systems, ensuring an interruption free test execution also in harsh test environments or within buildings.

The SPIDER is designed for extensibility and can carry all kinds of hardware starting from lightweight sensors, electronic control units up to heavy weight vehicle fronts at arbitrary mounting positions.

You can use your own computing platform and connect it via network or use an integrated industrial computer with CUDA support. For a fast development, the Robot Operating System (ROS) can be used for software integration. Further, SPIDER provides hardware and software for standardized vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication.

The default sensor set of SPIDER contains four lidar sensors, high precision dual antenna GPS, cameras, odometry and IMU information. We can offer support for the mechanical, electrical, and software integration of your components and provide a set of base functions like localization, path tracking, or collision avoidance.


Experiment scope


We expect ideas or solutions which either extend the base functions of SPIDER or take advantage of SPIDER in a use case. Below you find a list of extensions (F1-F3) and use-cases (UC1-UC5) for Inspiration.


Extension of SPIDER functions:

[F1] Implementation/adoption of a global planner to SPIDER within the ROS framework. The planner should be able to calculate a drivable trajectory within a given grid-map in real-time.

[F2] V2X via 5G. Extension of the existing V2X functions for communication via 5G.

[F3] Extend perception systems of SPIDER. E.g. camera vision or laser-based object detection and tracking.


SPIDER as test platform:

[UC1] Build up a multifunctional robot arm on top of SPIDER. Use the existing functions of SPIDER to safely move the arm to its targets and mount sensors or grasp objects.

[UC2] Use SPIDER as take-off and landing platform for drones.

[UC3] Provide algorithms or functions to use SPIDER as a drawing vehicle for a trailer.

[UC4] Provide ideas or solutions for SPIDER in use cases like first responder, transportation/logistics, road maintenance.

[UC5] Use SPIDER for evaluation of your sensor fusion, localization (indoor or outdoor) or trajectory planning algorithms.

Funding Opportunities

Aligned with the defined long-term COMET K2 research program fast-track experiments (up to 6 months) and lighthouse experiments (7-12 months) executed at VIRTUAL VEHICLE are public (co-)funded up to 50% based on a bilateral agreement.

Seed Actions for SMEs and start-ups will be free of charge.

Your application will be reviewed by our Scientific Assessment Board. The board will evaluate the applicants proposals and select proper candidates. The final number of applications being selected in each call might be different.

Only selected applications will be funded.

Call Information

Call Opening01/09/2020
Call Deadline30/11/2020
Project DurationSeed Action: first try-outs
Fast-track experiments: 1-6 months
Lighthouse experiments: 7-12 months
Proposal LanguageEnglish, German
Targeting GroupStart-ups, SME, mid-caps or LEs from EU member states
Indicative Total BudgetSeed Action: VIRTUAL VEHICLE support is free of charge
Fast-track experiments: < 50.000 €
Light-house Experiments: < 200.000 €

If you have a promising smart idea, we are happy to receive your application.