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2014 Awards winners announced!

The winners of the Automotive Testing Technology International Awards 2014 have been revealed!


Engine Test Facility of the Year
Winner: Landi Renzo, Italy

The closest vote in any category in the 2014 Awards was for Engine Test Facility of the Year, where Italian alternative fuels specialist Landi Renzo’s ambitious new technical center edged out Škoda’s huge new engine center for the trophy.

Landi Renzo has invested E32m in the new center in Cavriago, Italy. Its engineers now benefit from brand-new engine test benches capable of running on all kinds of liquid and gaseous fuels (CNG, LPG, hydromethane, hydrogen). Elsewhere in the new R&D center are emissions chassis dynos and component testing facilities.

“We are very glad to receive this prize,” says Giovanni Costi, manager of the R&D labs at Landi Renzo. “It’s an important reward for all the years of intensive work we have put into this project. This new research center with its components testing facility, vehicle climatic chambers and state-of-the-art engine test benches will help Landi Renzo to fulfill its customer requests and testing needs, and at the same time increase the global efficiency of the whole R&D department.”

The Italian company’s focus on future fuels was key to winning the judging panel’s backing.

“Landi Renzo’s recent investments demonstrate a commitment to its continued pursuit of viable alternative fuels,” notes judge Phil Morse. “It now has a suite of new AVL test benches and an expanded capability to cover an even wider variety of engine sizes and fuel types. Even the facility, with its solar energy grid and heat recovery systems, is an expression of the company’s awareness of the end game – reduced consumption of
fossil fuels.”

“Alternative fuels are the Holy Grail of automotive power sources,” comments ATTI contributor Keith Read. “This facility will enable full exploitation of fuels – such as hydrogen – that our children and their children will need to know, understand
and employ.”

Also shortlisted:
Catagen – Belfast, UK
Mugen Euro – Milton Keynes, UK
Škoda Engine Center – Mladá Boleslav, Czech Rep.

Person of the Year
Winner: Pete Reyes, Ford

One of the year’s most eye-catching test and development projects was the all-new, all-aluminum Ford F-150. Fresh from delivering the 2010 Taurus in double-quick time, long-time truck engineer Pete Reyes oversaw an innovative development program with a strong emphasis on materials testing. This included placing aluminum pick-up ‘boxes’ with real-world customers, formalizing a pintle hitch drop-test to assess dent resistance, and managing long lead times for the rolls of aluminum that built the prototype vehicles.

“On behalf of the entire Ford team, I’m honored to receive this award,” says Reyes. “We have tested the all-new F-150 more than ever before, to ensure it is the toughest, smartest and most capable F-150 yet.”

“I think going with aluminum for a heavy-duty pick-up in the USA shows leadership,” assesses jury member Richard Morgan. “The automotive industry has many smart engineers/managers. The industry knows how to make lighter-weight vehicles. It is so important to have someone break from the pack to do the different thing.”

“Redesigning the F-150 in aluminum is an incredible technical achievement,” echoes Tristan Honeywill, automotive technology journalist and ATTI contributor. “It’s a landmark program for the industry. Pete Reyes deserves recognition for his accomplishment.”

Also shortlisted:
Louis H Knotts – Calspan
Peter Mertens – Volvo
Wolfgang Ziebart – Jaguar Land Rover

Crash Test Facility of the Year
Winner: CAERI, China

For the second straight year, the Crash Test Facility of the Year is in China. The 2014 winner is the vast new crash test complex at the China Automotive Engineering Research Institute (CAERI) in Chongqing, which was designed and built by Messring.

Sun Hao, CAERI’s director for vehicle safety, says, “We are very proud that our new facility has been voted Crash Test Facility of the Year. For us,as a third-party, state-owned institute, we see it as a major part of our responsibility to promote safer driving everywhere in China. This can only be achieved by the use of the best automotive testing equipment in the world. Together with our partner, Messring, we have been able to construct a brand-new facility for various types of crash tests with an unprecedented level of precision. It represents a milestone for CAERI as well as a higher standard for new car safety testing in China.”

“We have installed more than 10 full-scale crash test facilities in China in the past few years, but this project was unique because of the dimensions and the precision achieved at the test center in Chongqing,” adds Dierk Arp, CEO at Messring. “The building containing the crash test facility alone has a gross floor space of 25,000m2. The Messring acceleration track for automobile tests is 294m long (200m roofed over and the rest outdoors). Even crashes with 25-ton trucks and buses can be simulated with this system – a capability offered nowhere else in China. We are very proud that CAERI has chosen our company to plan and build this facility and we feel very encouraged by the fact that it has been recognized as Crash Test Facility of the Year.”

Explaining his selection of the CAERI facility, awards judge Dave Payne says, “China may be something of a latecomer to the auto industry but investments in state-of-the-art proving grounds and laboratories like this crash facility are making it a force to be reckoned with.”

Also shortlisted:
Calspan – New York, USA
Fiat – Italy
Johnson Controls – Michigan, USA

Proving Ground of the Year
Winner: AstaZero, Sweden

Our winner this year is a brand-new facility that combines industry and academia, and brings together several entities with a track record in improving vehicle safety. The 2014 Proving Ground of the Year is AstaZero, the Swedish facility dedicated to researching and testing active safety and autonomous technologies.

“From the team behind AstaZero, we are extremely honored to be awarded the Proving Ground of the Year,” says its CEO, Pether Wallin. “It is also with humility that we take on the responsibilities that this bestows upon us. We promise to continue doing our best to deliver on our commitments to our industrial partners, customer, financiers and research commitments. It is also with excitement that I am looking forward to the development of AstaZero and all the activities we have in front of us. I am sure that this award will give us attention that will help us on this journey.”

AstaZero was the highest scoring nomination in any category in this year’s awards and the judges lined up tosing its praises. “The next decade of research will focus greatly on driver assistance and autonomous driving technologies,” observes Tom Hollowell, a former NHTSA director of the Office of Applied Vehicle Safety Research. “This proving ground will be at the forefront of providing the testing capabilities that are needed.”

“It is very difficult to test active safety systems on conventionally designed proving grounds, so AstaZero is a welcome addition,” adds fellow judge John Heider.

Also shortlisted:
Hyundai-Kia – California, USA
Test World – Finland

Software Innovation of the Year
Winner: National Instruments – Electric Motor Simulation Toolkit

Having previously focused on CAE, this category was expanded in 2014. It now also takes into account the innovative use of software in vehicle testing, whatever the application. Incredibly close voting saw just nine points separating first place from last, so all four shortlisted nominees received the recognition their technology deserves.

The winner was NI’s new software, which provides the modeling elements to develop both desktop and hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulations of electric motor systems. Complete with a LabVIEW project template for electric simulation, control, and HIL as well as NI VeriStand add-ons for the various motor types, automotive engineers can execute the models on a host computer for software-only simulation, NI real-time targets for traditional HIL, or NI FPGA targets for high-speed HIL.

“We are honored to be selected as the winner in this year’s Software Innovation category,” says Ben Black, market development manager, real-time test at NI. “Our mission is to provide our customers with flexible solutions to innovate faster and put smarter, safer vehicles on the road. We’re pleased that our technologies significantly contributed in the development and testing of Subaru’s first hybrid vehicle – the XV Crosstrek. We really enjoyed working with Subaru and thank them for letting us share their story and be a part of the innovative work they are doing.”

The project Black mentions saw Subaru’s parent company Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) use NI hardware and a beta version of the Electric Motor Simulation Toolkit. Test patterns developed by the team were completed and run automatically in only 118 hours. Performing them manually would have taken an estimated 2,300 hours.

“By adopting FPGA-based simulation using the NI hardware and software platforms, we achieved the simulation speed and model fidelity required for verification of an electric motor ECU. We reduced the test time to 1/20 of the estimated time for equivalent testing on a dynamometer,” reports FHI’s Tomohiro Morita.

“It’s great to see technology making such an immediate and measurable impact to a test program,” says Graham Heeps, editor of ATTI and chairman of the judging panel. “As the industry turns increasingly to electrified powertrains, tools like this will only grow in importance.”

Also shortlisted:
Elektrobit – EB Assist Car Data Recorder
IXXAT Automation – Automotive Gateway
MSC Software – Adams FMI

Hardware Innovation of the Year
Winner: GM – Brake noise test laboratory

This has been a bumper year for innovation in testing hardware, so much so that we had to widen the shortlist to five nominations!

The winner is a great example of an OEM and specialist suppliers working together to create something truly innovative. As reported in our September issue (p32), at the Milford Proving Ground, GM has installed a US$10m new brake dynamometer laboratory. Full temperature and humidity control enables brake noise testing to be brought indoors and automated, meaning that the test programs are faster, more repeatable and can be conducted year-round. The 4WD dynamometer – supplied by Link Engineering, which integrated the entire project for GM – can test anything from a Chevy Spark to a Silverado pickup. New, more demanding test methods will lead to even better NVH performance on GM vehicles.

“It is an honor to receive the Hardware Innovation of the Year Award,” comments Brent Lowe, brake component development engineer at GM. “This facility and the four-wheel-drive chassis dynamometer are the results of much hard work by a collaborative team that brought it from conception to reality. It demonstrates our commitment to continually improving customer satisfaction and quality.”

Rüdiger Hiemenz was among the judges to praise the project. “Throughout the world, fleets of tests cars are in operation
in the search for brake noise,” he says. “Despite everyone’s best efforts, late – bad! – surprises are a frequent experience in brake development. The GM facility seems to be a leap forward in systematically finding and eliminating noise, thus reducing the test load on the road.”

Also shortlisted:
Ansible Motion – S2 Motion System
Aries – Crash test laboratory lighting system
mm-lab – CAVE

Company of the Year
Winner: AstaZero

All of the category winners, except Person of the Year, are submitted to the jury for a final vote for the overall Company of the Year. For 2014, this much coveted title has gone to AstaZero, in recognition of its pioneering test facility (see page 22) and its clear research and development ethos.

“As the world’s first full-scale test environment for future road safety, we have developed a unique facility where the different traffic environments make it possible to test advanced safety systems and their functions in all kinds of traffic and traffic situations,” says AstaZero’s CEO, Pether Wallin. “This enables the research, development and certification of future road safety systems, and functions as an international arena open for vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, legislators, universities and colleges from throughout the world. The name is a combination of Active Safety Test Area and Zero, which refers to the Swedish Parliament’s vision for road safety with zero dead and seriously injured in traffic. This is also the core value of AstaZero, and should be central in everything that we do.”


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