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Camera Simulator

Real-Time Camera and Lidar Simulation

The camera simulator developed by Astos Solutions is an integrated hardware/software solution that provides simulated sensor output of cameras and lidars in real-time. It is intended for closed-loop GNC simulations. HIL simulations with the real sensor in the loop require sensor stimulation that can be quite costly especially when the structural design of the involved vehicle(s) is not yet fixed and mock-ups cannot be build in time or is too expensive. In earlier design phases sensor characteristics can be modified to identify their impact on the navigation accuracy and to support the definition of sensor requirements.

The camera simulator comprises a toolbox for MATLAB/Simulink that can be used to link the Camera Simulator to a GNC simulation model that was built up in the Simulink environment. Ephemeris, attitude and articulations are modeled in Simulink and transmitted to the Camera Simulator via the Camera Simulator interface block. The generated image or Lidar data is provided either via TCP/IP or CameraLink interface or can be also stored as image files. The data output can be returned to the Simulink simulation and can be processed by implemented navigation algorithms (closed-loop). 3D models of all vehicle components have to be provided as Wavefront OBJ files.


  • Generation of photo-realistic images based on 3D graphics
  • Simulation of imaging sensors in early design phases when mechanical design is not yet fixed and satellite mockups would be too expensive or mockup manufacturing would be too slow (satellite exists only as CAD model)
  • Test and development of image processing algorithms and hardware with realistic input data
  • Integration of imaging sensors in closed loop GNC simulations (PIL)
  • Fast adaptation of scenario or camera parameters without cost over-runs
  • Cheap complement for rendezvous and docking simulators
  • Cost and risk mitigation due to early identification of design errors
  • Test of many (virtual) cameras in parallel without extra costs
  • Visual project presentations


  • Realistic scenario simulation:
    • Surface materials
    • Reflections
    • Shadowing
    • Atmospheric scattering
    • Celestial bodies and star catalogue
    • Light sources
  • CameraLink and TCP/IP output interface
  • Supports single base, medium and full mode with 1 to 8 taps (PCIe version; PCI version max. 4 taps)and dual base mode, with both channels at same frequency
  • Pixel clock rate 20-85 MHz
  • Monochrome and color camera emulation
  • Stereo camera support (2x single mode or side-by-side frames)
  • Resolutions up to 2048x2048 pixels
  • 1000Base-T Ethernet interface for real-time state vector transmission
  • Camera and model settings via GUI
  • Mathworks® Simulink® block for easy interfacing
  • Multiple vehicles and articulations (e.g. robotic arm) supported
  • Ethernet (SMB, SCP, FTP), Firewire, USB3, eSATA interfaces for model data upload
  • 19" rack mount chassis, 4U, 530mm depth