The Effect of Spray Water on an Automotive LIDAR Sensor: A Real-Time Simulation Study

Jose Vargas Rivero, Thiemo Gerbich, Boris Buschardt, Jia Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This paper presents the first of its kind real-Time simulation of the effect of spray water on an automotive LIDAR sensor. The simulation is based on physically measurable quantities in order to facilitate its validation and extension. Both the sensor and the environment are simulated using open source software tools: Blender and Cycles, with the objective of facilitating standardization and broader adoption. The parameters required to construct and calibrate the simulation are extracted from real measurements done on a test area and highway covering different water film thicknesses and vehicle speeds. The simulation is validated in different stages, first by comparing the trajectories of the particles with a regular solver and secondly, by the spatial distribution of the virtual and real point clouds with the measurement results. The resulting framework can be easily expanded to cover scenarios that are more complex and other phenomena counterproductive to the performance of a LIDAR sensor like dirt, exhaust gases, snow, rain and fog. The virtually generated point clouds can be used to validate the performance of the software required for the segmentation, classification and tracking of objects generated by the LIDAR sensor, thereby reducing development costs and increasing software quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-72
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Intelligent Vehicles
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2022


  • LIDAR sensor
  • Particle system
  • Ray tracing
  • Real time simulation
  • Self-driving car
  • Spray water
  • Virtual point cloud


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